Wednesday 20 September 2017

Big surge in recruits here as British army targets Ireland

The military college at Sandhurst. Photo: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
The military college at Sandhurst. Photo: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Rapid promotion and the opportunity for global deployments have led to an ongoing recruitment boom for the British army in Ireland.

Britain is now signing up a new recruit in the Republic on average every four-and-a-half days with evidence indicating a significant hike in recruitment over the past two years.

Recruitment has also been boosted by the fact that several Irish soldiers have been honoured for their bravery while serving with British forces - one received the prestigious Military Cross from Queen Elizabeth.

Other Irish recruits were accepted for training or deployment at the prestigious military academy, Sandhurst.

The latest recruitment figures for the British army, royal air force and royal navy showed dissident Republican threats have failed to stem the numbers seeking a military career across the Irish Sea.

UK ministry of defence (MOD) figures showed more than 230 Irish citizens joined British defence units between 2013 and 2015.

That represents a stabilisation of recruitment, which had suffered a blip in 2012 after almost a decade of continued increase.

Anecdotal evidence has indicated a further increase in 2016 - with a noticeable increase in recruits over the first six months of the year.

In 2012, 70 Irish citizens joined the British army, which contrasted with 123 opting to join in 2011.

The 44pc decline between 2011/2012 had been blamed on the publicity following a bungled attempt by dissident republicans to lure a Limerick-born soldier serving with the British army into a trap while he was home on Christmas leave.

However, recruitment levels have rebounded from 2013.

MOD sources stressed that there were many factors involved in the fluctuation of recruitment numbers ranging from the scaling down of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to the economic situation in the Republic and perceived threats from dissident republicans.

British army recruitment in the Republic has increased, year on year, since 2007 with the exception of a single year.

Irish-born soldiers boast one of the highest rates of NCO promotions within British forces.

In 2011, Irish and Commonwealth nationals formed 5pc of Britain's entire overall recruitment drive in their forces.

Irish Independent

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