Fire warning: Defence Forces undermined

The weekend gorse fires in Donegal, which were dangerously out of control for a period, raise several issues. One is the frequency of these outbreaks right across the country.

Though the cause of the Donegal fire has not yet been established, the rarity of a prosection for environmentally destructive arson is another.

This fire raised a third issue — the capacity of our Defence Forces to respond to these emergencies and support civillian firefighting efforts.

The Air Corps, though not a primary fire fighting agency, had to assemble crews “from the four corners of the country” before it could help contain the outbreak. Luckily, lives were not in jeopardy so this delay was not critical.

Despite that, this seems another example of how our Defence Forces have been undermined by a lack of resources and, as weekend events showed all to graphically, they may be asked to confront threats far more potent than gorse fires. We need to rebuild the Army, the Naval Service, and the Air Corps quickly.

Not to do so would be reckless.

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