THE fall in strength of our Defence Forces can no longer be ignored and must be addressed by the Government as a matter of urgency.
Overall numbers now stand at just 9,085 personnel, some 415 below the current agreed strength, despite a recruitment campaign announced earlier this year.
Most worrying of all is the drop in the number of officers.
According to figures provided to Fianna Fáil defence spokeswoman Lisa Chambers, there are now just 841 Army officers, down from 966 officers in 2012.
Leadership ranks are being decimated, with dozens of officers joining private companies like Lidl and Aldi, anxious to recruit them for their skills and discipline.
A number of Air Corps pilots have also left to join private airlines both here and abroad.
The Irish Army has a long and proud record of engagement with the UN on peacekeeping duties while our naval service has shown its worth by rescuing more than 10,000 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
We cannot afford to lose their skills and expertise.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved