Weapons of mass distraction as barracks to open to public
THE Defence Forces are to open up barracks to local communities in a bid to raise their public profile.
The move was announced by the Chief of Staff, Lieut General Conor O'Boyle, who said a series of open days was planned for barracks around the country and would be used to introduce their personnel and display their military equipment.
The aim is to make the public more aware of the role played by the Defence Forces, not only in security operations but also their part in boosting Ireland's standing overseas through participation in peace missions around the globe and their involvement in projects locally.
Gen O'Boyle disclosed the plan as he launched the annual fundraising Fuchsia appeal for ONE, which was set up to help former troops, who have fallen on hard times.
ONE needs over €600,000 annually to run its current facilities, including residential centres in Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone and drop-in centres in Dundalk and Limerick.
Chief executive Ollie O'Connor said the organisation was currently providing accommodation for up to 40 former Defence Force members and looking at expanding its drop-in centre project.
He said the overall objective was to boost the welfare of ex-servicemen and women, some of whom were homeless, while others had disabilities and many were elderly.
They also promoted a spirit of comradeship between serving and retired members, as well as providing information on pensions, social welfare and other entitlements.
Gen O'Boyle said he intended the military should play their part in the expansion by making drop-in facilities available at every barracks for retired members.
Retired members often missed that comradeship and esprit de corps when they left the organisation and for that reason drop-in centres were necessary to allow them keep in touch with their old friends as well as feeling they were part of the wider family provided by the Defence Forces.
A veterans' day for serving and former members will be held in the Curragh in August while an open day for the public is on July 27 and another event is at Cathal Brugha barracks in Dublin in September.
Mick Tynan (57), a current resident at Bru na bhFianna, ONE's residential centre in Dublin's north inner city, said: "You couldn't come to a nicer place and I am very happy here in the company of former comrades. I hope eventually to be independent again and move on but in the meantime this could not be better."
The fuchsia appeal will run throughout July and further details can be found on www.oneconnect.ie.