Fianna Fáil Defence Spokesperson Jack Chambers TD has slammed the government after the latest figures relating to Defence Forces staffing reveal that the numbers serving have hit a new low.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that the numbers serving in the permanent Defence Forces have fallen yet again – with only 8,751 members recorded as of 31st May 2019 – that’s a drop of almost 300 since May 2017.

Deputy Chambers has expressed concern that the numbers may be slightly inflated.

“Bear in mind that it is likely that some 500 or more personnel are in training so the effective strength is probably closer to 8,000”, said Deputy Chambers

“We now have a Defence Forces which is 749 members below its approved establishment strength of 9,500. This has happened despite ongoing recruitment campaigns over the past three years. It shows the extent of the retention crisis that the military is experiencing.

“While these figures obviously pre-date the recent publication of the Public Pay Commission Report on the Defence Forces, I am not convinced that the recommendations contained in that report are likely to stem the exodus.

“A very chilling finding was that 60% of enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers have indicated that they intend to leave in the coming two years.

“The Defence Forces have been treated with contempt by Fine Gael, who have been reckless in stretching the military to breaking point. The exodus we see is the response of people who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect their country but whole are clearly not valued by the Taoiseach or his Minister of State.”