Fianna Fáil Deputy, Robert Troy, says the Government must recognise the need to strengthen the Defence Forces personnel.
In a week that saw the wives and partners of Defence Forces personnel protesting against pay and conditions, the Longford-Westmeath Deputy is calling on the Taoiseach to ensure that numbers are increased as a matter of urgency.
Deputy Troy says we must also move towards the restoration of a three brigade structure with re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade in Athlone. A Fianna Fáil motion on these issues was passed in the Dáil last week.
“The time has come to address the serious personnel shortages in our Defence Forces," Deputy Troy explained. "Rather than token gestures, we need a concerted effort on the part of Government to restore these services and ensure that the 10,500 personnel target is met.
"Over the past number of years, we have seen a huge decline in numbers, leaving the force at just 9,070 – well below the current agreed strength. We need to recommit to our Defence Forces to ensure they have the personnel strength to fulfil their national and international assigned roles and required overseas rotations."
Deputy Troy says successive Fine Gael-led Governments have targeted the Defence Forces, starving them of resources and investment. This has resulted in a seriously depleted force, where morale is low and retention levels are falling, he said.
“The 2012 restructuring of the Defence Forces continues to generate controversy to say the least," he continued. "The move to a two-brigade structure was ill advised and ignored long-standing organisational links and history. Rather than improving effective and efficient Command and Control for these three garrisons, it has done the exact opposite, and in so doing has reversed a core element of the long-established military command principles.
“I am, therefore, calling for the restoration of the three-brigade structure with the re-establishment of the 4th Western Brigade in Custume Barracks in Athlone playing a key part in this restoration."