Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence Lisa Chambers says the allocation of additional funding for the Department of Defence must be used to increase the number of personnel within the Force and improve conditions for the thousands of men and women who serve this country.

“I have been highlighting falling Defence Forces numbers for some time and concerns are being raised about the impact of these reduced numbers on the ability of the Force to carry out its work.  These are men and women who are engaged in important missions in countries across the globe, including the vital humanitarian search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea.  We are extremely proud of the work that our Forces do, and I welcome the increase in funding for the Department next year – however it is imperative that it is spent on measures which improve the conditions of our Defence Forces personnel”, said Deputy Chambers.

“The Taoiseach must ensure that the agreed target of 9,500 members is at least matched, if not exceeded.  The current Force is well below strength and a sustained recruitment drive will ease the attrition rate and relieve the burden on existing personnel.

“As well as increasing numbers, we must address morale issues.  The recent Defence Forces Climate report pointed to increased dissatisfaction rates among members.  The decline in numbers in recent years has no doubt been a contributory factor as personnel are expected to pick up the slack.

Today’s announcement of €12m in additional funding includes a capital investment allocation of €8m.  The Taoiseach and Minister Kehoe must invest in creating a better environment for Defence Forces members and their families”.