It was confirmed this week that in 2017, just short of 30% of recruits paid at least €300 to purchase their discharge from the Defence Forces. That’s over double the number of recruits that forked out to discharge early in 2015.

This comes as it was also revealed that a report compiled on foot of Budget 2019 indicates that the funding allocated to the Defence Forces has been reduced.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence, Jack Chambers TD commented, “Earlier this year, the families and loved ones of personnel were forced to mobilise in a desperate bid to raise attention to poor pay and conditions in the Defence Forces.

“These latest numbers are unsurprising. It’s entirely understandable why anyone subjected to such abysmal pay and conditions would bow out. Wages are so low within the force that personnel have no real choice but to leave in search of new work to live.

“This was well predicted to happen and could have been better managed or prevented if Minister Keogh had been willing, but instead he stood idly by as Government funding for our military was even further reduced. This was even during a time when we were aware that the absence of appropriate pay and conditions within the force is causing mass exodus.

He added, “Is the Minister preparing to replace the several members who will reach their 31 years’ service and who will be therefore retiring next year? Before we know it and before the Minister might even realise, the force will be barely functioning.

“The Government trumpet this idea of a “partnership between the Defence Forces and the State” but the fact is that there is no link. A leaked internal report, a reduction in funding and double the number of personnel paying to leave – what else needs to happen for things to improve?

“The Defence Forces have been left out in the cold and continually neglected for supporting the public. The shocking attitude towards them must dramatically change,” he concluded.