Defence Forces to recruit up to 600


UP TO 600 vacancies in the Defence Forces are to be filled this year, the Dáil has been told.

Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said the recruitment was necessary because the Defence Forces were currently more than 500 below the agreed serving cadre of 9,500.

“I am advised by the military authorities that a new recruit competition will be advertised shortly,” he added.

Mr O’Dowd, who was filling in for Minister for Defence Alan Shatter at Question Time, said those recruited must fit the vacancies deemed essential. He said the State had realised close to €85 million from the disposal of six Army barracks and part of another.

The money was ringfenced and returned to the Department of Defence as appropriations-in-aid.

“Under some of the major programmes, light tactical armoured vehicles, APCs, two EC 135 helicopters, six AW139 helicopters and two new offshore patrol vessels have been purchased,” he added.

Mr O’Dowd said the department’s property portfolio was kept under review to ensure the most effective use of military resources.

The consolidation of the Defence Forces into a smaller number of locations was central to the ongoing defence modernisation programme, he said.

“This was a key consideration of Government in addressing this issue, because releasing personnel from security and support functions enables the operational capacity of the Defence Forces to be maintained notwithstanding the fall in strength.”

Sinn Féin defence spokesman Jonathan O’Brien said it was disheartening for the families of personnel in areas where barracks were closing to see advertisements in their local newspapers seeking to rent premises for the force.