Closing barracks not the answer

I WRITE to you to highlight a great injustice imposed on a group of loyal and diligent servants of this state.

I refer to the hundreds of soldiers whose stations are under imminent threat of closure.The barracks involved are Clonmel, Cavan and Mullingar. The Government stated that no announcements would be made until after the Presidential elections (still no announcement) but the dogs on the street know which locations are for the chop. The nauseating part of the whole debacle is that these are the recommendations of the military authorities to the Government, under the Department of Defence’s cost cutting plan.

They estimate between €2m-€3m will be saved but that does not take into consideration the cost of private security firms and maintenance when these locations are vacated. Spotlessly clean places of employment will be left to deteriorate unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, the men and women who serve there are stressfully relocated, costing them and their families unnecessary strife. Some will leave the army. Doing the maths, they might be better off on the dole. Mortgages will be put under threat and young soldiers, especially the lower paid, will consider emigration. There is an alternative to all this unnecessary hardship, and that is to disband the RDF (Reserve Defence Force). It has no role or function necessary to the state, it costs €15m-plus per annum, the vast majority of which is taken up keeping regular army officers in appointments with substantial allowances. Of course senior officers would be loathe to consider disbanding this cash cow that boosts their already substantial pay. Consider the events of last winter. They were handled by the army, Civil Defence and emergency services. How many RDF turned in? Absolutely none.

The ratio of officers to enlisted people (NCOs and privates) is close to 1:4 which is shockingly inappropriate. There are 116 Lt colonels in an army of less than 8,500, (and steadily decreasing) and enlisted people are leaving by the hundreds. Our army is overwhelmingly and alarmingly top heavy with officers — 15 generals (1 commodore) to administer to 8,500 in comparison to 7:450,000 in the British Army.

The army is at an all time low, morale is almost non-existent. Respect for officers is gone. The gulf between them now a chasm of Mariana trench proportions. Should it be €15m saved or €2m-€3m saved? It’s a no-brainer.

Aisling Murphy

Ashbourne Village

Waterford

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