In defence of Defence Forces


Sir, – Col Michael Gannon (retired) has called for the Defence Forces to be disbanded (October 29th). This is a real wake-up call for Leinster House.

Yes, we are a neutral country, but that does not mean we should not be in a position to resist a potential aggressor or deal with any local problems.

For example the fall-out from the Brexit negotiations will require careful policing of our fisheries. So, it is essential all our naval vessels are fully crewed and available for service. Also, let’s not forget in recent years the life-saving patrols carried out by the Naval Service in the Mediterranean.

A further example is the high prestige enjoyed by the Armed Service in its peacekeeping roles in various overseas locations.

Finally, moving forward in this technology age we have to be alert to the subversive activities of unfriendly nations which require us to maintain a strong counter-espionage function.

Therefore, I submit far from disbanding the Defence Forces we need to maintain a well-resourced capability to ensure the security of this wonderful country. – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Conor Gallagher’s report on Naval Service staffing threat to sea missions (Home News, October 28th) makes for grim reading.

The neglect of the Defence Forces over the past number of years is becoming quite apparent. All branches of the Defence Forces are feeling the effects. The solution is simple: pay, resource, and value the members of the Defence Forces and retention will not be an issue.

At a time when the uncertainty of Brexit means that we will probably need to patrol our territorial waters to a greater extent, we unfortunately don’t have that option. It’s time to fix Defence. – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – It appears that the Defence Forces may not be decommissioned after all (, October 29th)! The long-awaited plan for a Commission on the Defence Forces to establish the medium- and long-term defence requirements of the State, is reportedly ready for launching. ARCO, (the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers), whose 850-plus membership has the necessary expertise to comment authoritatively, has recommended to the Minister that the scope of the commission’s endeavours should encompass, “the wider parameters of Ireland’s future defence policy, including, but not limited to: deterrence and defence, and international and regional obligations supporting Ireland’s foreign policy objectives”.

It should also include “cyber-defence, civil-military interface, reserves, funding, emergency planning, defence diplomacy, civil defence, research and development defence innovation, enterprise and industry.”

An independent permanent pay review body should be established without delay and should work in parallel with the commission. The anachronistic titles “Air Corps” and “Naval Service” should be dropped, and, following best international practice, renamed “Navy” and “air force” respectively. – Yours, etc,

Col DORCHA LEE (Retd),

Navan, Co Meath.