Wednesday 20 November 2019

Public meeting to discuss future of Defence Forces

Security analyst and author of the Siege of Jadotville, Declan Power.
Security analyst and author of the Siege of Jadotville, Declan Power.

Simon Bourke

The future of the nation's Defence Forces will be the topic of discussion at a special meeting in the Ashdown Park Hotel on Tuesday, September 10 at 8 p.m.

Organised and chaired by Wexford County Councillor, Malcolm Byrne, the meeting will feature a panel of high-profile speakers who will be discussing the challenges currently facing the Irish Defence Forces.

Among those speaking on the night will be Dr. Cathal Berry, Former Head of the Irish Army Ranger Wing and Head of the Military Medical School, Jack Chambers, TD, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence, and Declan Power, Security and Defence Analyst and Author of 'The Siege of Jadotville' which was subsequently adapted for the screen and became a Netflix hit.

Dr. Berry recently appeared on the Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One to discuss his reasons for leaving the Defence Forces and made headline news when he described the organisation as being 'dismantled and demoralised' from within.

Having spent 23 years in the Army, Dr Berry (41) took the decision to leave, pointing out that 84% of Defence Forces employees earned less than the average annual earnings of full-time employees in Ireland of €45,000.

He also heavily criticised the Department of Defence claiming they were the 'real source of the current problems' in the Defence Forces.

Of tonight's meeting, Cllr Byrne said, 'The meeting will look at current issues including low morale in the Defence Forces and the significant numbers leaving. But it will also explore how well prepared are we for other defence and security matters - Brexit, cybercrime and cyberterrorism, migration? We need to be worried that Government is not sufficiently supporting our Defence Forces.'

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