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Dáil Éireann - Private Members Business (Fianna Fáil)
 Tuesday 4 April  2017

“That Dáil Éireann:
acknowledges the pride that Irish people take in our Defence Forces and the contribution madeby the Permanent Defence Force, the Reserve Defence Force and by Civil Defence;

remembers those members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the State, including those on overseas peacekeeping missions;

agrees that the single greatest asset the Defence Forces has is its personnel;

recognises that the dedication and professionalism manifested by the Defence Forces isinspiring;

compliments the Defence Forces on its central role in marking the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising;

believes that a career in the Defence Forces is a form of patriotism that provides an outstanding example to all of Irish society;

welcomes the publication of a new White Paper on Defence in 2015;

notes that:
— the current allowed strength of the Defence Forces at 9,500 has stretched its ability to fulfil its assigned roles and maintain a credible contingent capability;

— the current effective strength of the Defence Forces is below 9,000;

— the geographical deployment of the Defence Forces is uneven;

— concentrating the majority of the Defence Forces in the east and south of the country removes the traditional place of the military with and from Irish society, ignores
organisational linkages and histories, and erodes geographical and family militaryservice traditions;

— the expressed view of one representative organisation in the Defence Forces that problems exist in a range of areas including commuting, work life balance and stress,
and that morale is at the lowest it has been for some time, with comradeship and brotherhood fading;

— the significant difficulties that the Defence Forces has in the retention of personnel;and

— the widespread belief that the 2012 re-organisation has not been a success; further notes that:

— the effective membership of the Reserve Defence Force fell from 2,280 to 2,049 during 2016 and has fallen further to 1,970 this year;

— if the net loss of 200 members, that the Reserve Defence Force experienced last year, continues into the future it will cease to exist by 2026 and it is likely that it will be
seen as impractical to sustain long before that; and

— the single force concept has not benefited the Reserve Defence Force;

agrees that:

— Ireland needs a defence policy that is measured, fit for purpose and appropriately resourced;

— Irish defence spending is very low, even by the standards of neutral countries;

— at €639 million in 2015, defence expenditure (excluding pensions) amounted to just 0.25 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and

— a low level of resources is not ultimately consistent with a credible defence policy; and
calls for:
— military professionals to be allowed play a meaningful and worthwhile role in the formulation of policy advice to Government;

— reservists to be allowed play a meaningful and worthwhile role in support of the Permanent Defence Force;

— annual updates on the implementation of the 2015 White Paper to be provided to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence;

— consultation with the representative organisations in the Defence Forces on the practicalities of implementing the 2015 White Paper;
— a review of legislation and Defence Forces’ regulations governing the Reserve Defence Force;

— regular recruitment campaigns for both Permanent and Reserve Defence Forces and new retention initiatives;

— the re-instatement of Defence as a lead portfolio in Cabinet;

— the restoration of the Army to a three brigade structure by re-establishing the 4th Western Brigade based in Custume Barracks, Athlone;

— the establishment and strength of the Permanent Defence Forces to be increased to 10,500 personnel across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service by 2021; and

— renewed efforts to ensure that the Reserve Defence Force reaches its establishment strength of 4,069.” — Lisa M. Chambers, Bobby Aylward, John Brassil, Declan Breathnach, James Browne, Mary Butler, Thomas Byrne, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Jack Chambers, Niall Collins, Barry Cowen, John Curran, Stephen S. Donnelly, Timmy Dooley, Sean Fleming, Pat the CopeGallagher, Seán Haughey, Billy Kelleher, John Lahart, James Lawless, Marc MacSharry, Micheál Martin, Charlie McConalogue, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Eugene Murphy, MargaretMurphy O'Mahony, Darragh O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Willie O'Dea, Kevin O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Loughlin, Frank O'Rourke, Anne Rabbitte, EamonScanlon, Brendan Smith, Niamh Smyth, Robert Troy.