Irish recruits in British Army double
THE number of people from the Republic of Ireland joining the British Army has doubled in three years.
Military sources in Britain say the number of Irish recruits has increased dramatically since a recruitment freeze was imposed on the Irish Defence Forces.
Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request from the British Ministry of Defence show that in total 123 citizens of the Republic of Ireland have become British Forces personnel in 2011 to date.
As well as the larger numbers of Irish citizens joining the main army ranks, another 30 signed up for the part-time British Territorial Army over the same period.
A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces said: "For the last couple of years we've been operating a policy of limited recruitment, so while we're not taking in any new recruits in general service roles there are still some opportunities available."
In 2010 the Irish Army, Navy and Air Corps reportedly received 79 applications for every officer cadetship available.
Recruitment offices in Enniskillen, Coleraine and Belfast are seeing more and more applicants from the Republic coming through their doors. From April 2010 to the same month in 2011 a total of 84 Irish citizens joined the ranks of the British Army, compared to just 42 two years earlier.
Over the last decade a number of British Army service personnel from the Republic have been killed or injured in operations abroad.
In April 2003, Lance Corporal Ian Malone from Ballyfermot in Dublin became the first person from the Republic to be killed in the line of duty in Iraq. He was shot in the head by a sniper during a British Army advance on Basra.