Claim Defence Forces get ships and planes but lack personnel

Fisheries patrol vessels do not have sufficient staff to board suspect ships, Dáil hears

People Before Profit TD  Richard Boyd Barrett: the department “is buying new Casa airplanes, but I understand there are only three Casa pilots, some of whom may even leave”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett: the department “is buying new Casa airplanes, but I understand there are only three Casa pilots, some of whom may even leave”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Department of Defence is purchasing new naval vessels and airplanes but does not have the personnel to operate them, it has been claimed.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett alleged in the Dáil that the Defence Forces bought new naval vessels but “cannot do fisheries patrols because they don’t have enough personnel to board ships”.

He also claimed the department “is buying new Casa airplanes, but I understand there are only three Casa pilots, some of whom may even leave, yet it takes years to train these pilots”.

Best equipment

Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe said members of the Defence Forces “deserved the best equipment to carry out their day-to-day duties”.

But when Mr Boyd Barrett said “we must have people to sail the ships”, the Minister said he met the chief executive of the Sea Fisheries Protection last week “and she did not highlight any of the issues the deputy raised”.

Mr Kehoe acknowledged there were issues with pilot retention, air traffic controllers and engineers but said he was preparing measures to allow former members of the Defence Forces with specialist skills, including pilots and engineers, to re-enter the service.