Michéal Martin warns of 'number of deaths' unless issues within defence forces addressed

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has warned people will needlessly die unless Government accepts there is a "deep crisis" within Ireland's defence forces and addresses the problem immediately.

Michéal Martin warns of 'number of deaths' unless issues within defence forces addressed

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has warned people will needlessly die unless Government accepts there is a "deep crisis" within Ireland's defence forces and addresses the problem immediately, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Mr Martin made the claim after a detailed University of Limerick report based on the views of 600 members of the air corps, army and navy raised serious concerns about the funding, personnel and support structures in the groups.

Speaking after the publication of the report, which was first revealed by the Irish Examiner earlier this year, Mr Martin said the Government's "collective head is in the sand" on the need to address the "deep crisis" that has been revealed.

He said there is near unanimous agreement within the defence forces that the services "are now at risk" and that there will be "a serious incident with a number of people, a number of deaths" due to the gaps unless action is taken now.

Mr Martin urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to accept "there is a deep crisis in our defence forces that demands an exceptional response".

However, despite the concerns being raised in the independent University of Limerick report, Mr Varadkar steps are already being taken to address problems he said are a hangover from Fianna Fáil's time in power.

Mr Varadkar said Government has established "a very successful" recruitment process to bring in 800 more defence forces personnel, and is also addressing recession-era pay cuts.

Noting the €406m the Government has also set aside to further fund the services over the coming years, he said while there is no deep crisis there are "real, substantive issues that have to be dealt with".

Your reply doesn't tally with the views of 600 people in unprecedented research by the University of Limerick," Mr Martin said. "They want some kind of acknowledgment of their plight, of their crisis."

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