Monday 16 October 2017

Soldiers urge cuts rethink

Tom Brady and Eoghan McConnell

Soldiers have called on Defence Minister Alan Shatter to reconsider his decision to reduce the Defence Forces from three to two brigades and downgrade the status of the military in the West.

Simon Devereux, deputy general secretary of the association representing soldiers, sailors and airmen, Pdforra, said the career structure and expectations of members were seriously damaged by the "short- sighted" decision.

He argued there was ample scope to facilitate a three brigade-structure with the 9,500-troop strength being retained.

He warned that Pdforra members and their families had noted the muted response of many politicians on the barrack closures and the loss of the Western Brigade.

But Mr Shatter accused Fianna Fail of misleading the public on his plans and denied reports that staffing at Custume barracks in Athlone would be cut by up to 600 army personnel. The downgrading of the barracks would result in a reduction of 50 from 1,050 to 1,000, he said.

However, local Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy said Mr Shatter owed an apology to the people of Westmeath for his arrogant dismissal of their concerns.

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