A number of former officers of the Irish Defence Forces (including Dorcha Lee and Ray Cawley) have very justifiably criticised the present depleted condition of our Defence Forces and the manner that recent governments have treated our serving soldiers, and I agree with their concerns.
However, I urge caution on the suggestion in the report — ‘Ex-senior officer seeks commission to examine Defence Forces’ (Irish Examiner, May 27) that a former army officer should be appointed as Irish defence minister.
I have no doubt that former officer Cathal Berry was a very capable officer and will make a very capable politician.
We need people with this level of intelligence and capability in our government and this is demonstrated by the incompetence of so many of our senior politicians over recent decades.
Since the 1930s especially, there has been very clear civilian democratic control over our defence forces and this is essential in a democracy.
In many other countries, the Eoin O’Duffys of this world have done serious damage to democracy, although I have no doubt that Cathal Berry TD is not in this category.
Doctors don’t necessarily make the best ministers of health, former police don’t necessarily make the best
ministers of justice (remember Sean Doherty?), and teachers don’t necessarily make best ministers of education, due to being too close to the vested interests of their professions.
I think that Cathal Berry should set his sights a little bit higher than minister for defence.