Irish Defence Forces 'Undefunded'

There has been an admission that the Irish defence forces are not being funded as fully as they could be.

The Minister for Defence Tony Killeen was addressed the Annual Delegate Conference of the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association when he admitted that "the current financial situation precludes the Government from providing the level of resourcing as was available to the defence forces in previous years".

He also noted "this is in line with the broader public service".

Speaking at the conference in the Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, Co Meath, Minister Killeen noted the difficult times faced in Ireland today.

He was commenting on the major contraction of the Irish economy and also said that despite the harsh economic circumstances the "defence forces are in good shape to meet their obligations".

He said that comprehensive reform and an extensive investment programme over the last decade ensured the organisation is in a "healthy state to maintain outputs within a reduced budgetary provision".

Minister Killeen commended the Permanent Defence Forces "for continuing to deliver high quality public service", despite the financial problems.

The Minister said that he is aware of the impact that the moratorium on recruitment, promotion and acting appointments has had on the Permanent Defence Force particularly, in light of the very high turnover rate that is part of any military organisation.

"Its impact has been monitored on an ongoing basis in conjunction with the Chief of Staff and the Department officials," he insisted, noting that specific requirements were identified and limited exceptions to the moratorium were obtained from the Minister for Finance.

"Within the context of consolidating the public finances, the Government is focused firmly on maintaining the operational efficiency of the Permanent Defence Force," said Minister Killeen.

On a more upbeat theme, he also advised that targeted recruitment is being carried out in 2010 and that he has approved the recruitment of 40 Naval Service Recruits, limited recruitment to the Army and the intake of 30 Cadets from the Cadetship Competition 2010.

He said that agreement has been reached with the Department of Finance on the Employment Control Framework (ECF) for the Defence Forces.

This agreement will result in recruitment and promotion being delegated back to the Department of Defence subject to ongoing control monitoring by the Department of Finance.

Minister Killeen also acknowledged the demands placed on personnel who serve overseas and on their families and stated that while deployment to the Congo was at a huge human cost in terms of those who lost their lives.

The Minister confirmed that options for future deployment are being developed by Civil and Military management and subject to their advice he would expect to be in a position to consider the proposals and bring forward recommendations to Government as appropriate towards the end of the year.

Minister Killeen concluded by outlining that the challenge of managing the exceptionally harsh economic climate requires exceptional courage and public service in its purest form: "I know that if we work together in the true spirit of public service that a brighter future lies ahead. I am confident that this future will see the continued modernisation of the Defence Force."


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