Despite a recruitment drive over the course of last year, there are more than 100 fewer Defence Forces personnel now than there were at the end of 2015.
Following a Freedom of Information request, the Defence Forces released information which shows that 551 people were recruited into the army in 2016. This leaves the Defence Forces with a total permanent membership of just over 9,000, well below the approved establishment strength of 9,500 members.
The problem, according to Fianna Fáil’s defence spokesperson Lisa Chambers, is down to the slow process of replacing members leaving the Defence Forces. She said: “The recruitment process is fine, it’s constant, we are taking in people but we’re losing people at an even faster rate and we’re not replacing them.”
These numbers come despite the Defence Forces’ significant recruitment drive over the past two years, as the number of recruits actually brought into the Defence Forces is nearly fifty less than planned for 2016.
It remains to be seen if the Defences Forces’ original plan of recruiting 1,450 new members from April 2016 will actually come to pass, with Minister Simon Coveney saying that the army will recruit 850 new members in 2017.
By Sean Meehan