The future of the Defence Forces

Sir, – Now that the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be waning, any chance we could get our hands on those cardboard assault rifles that seem so popular on Ukrainian training manoeuvres?

These weapons could be the ideal value for money solution for the Defence Forces when the Russian navy next appears off our coast.

Obviously, this deterrent would need to be kept well out of the water at all times, although, on the other hand, the solution would enhance our environmental credentials in Europe. – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.

A chara, – Alan Wood suggests that the Defence Forces are not fit for purpose on the grounds that they are unable to single-handedly repel a full-scale invasion from an aggressive military superpower (in his example, Russia), and proposes they be abolished (Letters, February 16th).

This argument would mean that the armed forces of every country besides the United States and perhaps China are not fit for purpose, and that small neutral European countries like Finland should immediately disband their militaries. I wonder what the Finns would say to that.

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning is often heard in Ireland. Maintaining the Defence Forces is opposed on the grounds that, after decades of neglect, they are unable to defend Ireland from outside attack. However, the two obvious solutions to these problems – increased resourcing to give the Defence Forces a similar military capability to other small European countries (while remaining a fraction of overall government spending), and joining Nato to put the military superpowers of the US, UK, and France at our back – are furiously opposed as well.

What are we hoping for? Security, but for free? Or utter vulnerability, but without hostile actors taking advantage of us? I imagine it would be cheaper for Mr Wood to disconnect his alarm, cancel his home insurance, and leave the front door open at night so he doesn’t have to replace the window a burglar broke to get in, but I imagine he (and most other Irish people) would be able to identify these as false economies.

Why then do we have such a blind spot when it comes to spending on our national security? – Is mise,