Irish troops start training Ukrainian forces in Cyprus

Chief-of-staff tells PDForra conference that training is ongoing in demining and bomb disposal

Lieut Gen Sean Clancy: he called the report into abuses against women in the Defence Forces a 'watershed' moment that must be faced with 'resilience and determination'

Irish troops have started training Ukrainian armed forces in bomb disposal and demining, the Defence Forces’ chief-of-staff said on Tuesday. The training is part of EU Military Assistance Mission Ukraine under which Ukrainian forces receive military training from member states to aid in repelling the Russian invasion.

Ireland has committed to sending up to 30 Defence Forces personnel to take part in training in areas such as ordnance disposal and combat medicine.

Speaking to the annual conference of Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDForra), Lieut General Seán Clancy said Irish troops were already in Cyprus delivering basic explosive ordnance disposal and demining training to Ukrainian forces. Other Defence Forces personnel were co-ordinating the mission from Germany and Brussels, he said.

Lieut Gen Clancy also outlined additional measures to improve the military in light of the Commission on the Defence Forces 2022 report. These include the opening a Joint Induction Training Centre in Gormanston Camp, Co Meath, for new personnel. He said the centre has welcomed its first class of recruits.


The general said legal advice was also being taken from the attorney general on legislation aimed at creating a new post of chief-of-defence (Chod) to replace the chief-of-staff post. This will “align high level command and control structures with International best practice”, he said

In his address to the conference, Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin told delegates that agreement has been reached “in principle” to allow enlisted members of the Defence Forces to access the same level of private healthcare as officers.

He said the move, which was recommended by the Commission on the Defence Forces, “will be of immense benefit to the ranks represented by PDForra, who will be able to avail of referrals to private hospitals and consultants, as deemed clinically necessary by an examining medical officer, in line with the treatment for officers”.

Issues of retention, pay and the working time directive are set to dominate the conference, as is the fallout from the report from the Independent Monitoring Group detailing abuse and bullying of Defence Forces members, particularly women.

In his address to the Minister PDForra president Mark Keane said the Defence Forces would not be a safe place for women until it was a safe place for everybody. There was an urgent need for an external, independent body to investigate claims of abuse, he said.

He said that the issues raised in the recent report should be viewed as an opportunity to bring internal change.

Lieut Gen Clancy called the report a “watershed” moment which must be faced with “resilience and determination”. He said the upcoming statutory inquiry into the report’s findings “will support our shared determination to eliminate unacceptable or criminal behaviours within the Defence Forces”.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times