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Record numbers of Irish recruits join British army

RECORD numbers of Irish people are joining the British armed forces, with the levels increasing by upwards of 10pc each year for the past six years.

It is now estimated that 4,000 Irish citizens are in the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or the British army.

Separately, figures obtained by the Irish Independent show the Irish Defence Forces received 79 applications for every officer cadetship position on offer this year.

A total of 2,365 people applied for just 30 officer cadetship places, a similar scenario to last year when 2,553 people applied for 32 places.

The 30 new cadets will get 15 months training before becoming officers, or "decision- makers", within the army. The numbers applying for positions in the Defence Forces has soared in the past two years, with 1,000 applications received in one week alone last year.

With a starting salary of €30,000, the positions within the air corps, army and navy are coveted as job availability falls off elsewhere.


But with just 30 places on offer this year, many are turning to the British army.

Last year, Irish and Commonwealth nationals formed 5pc of Britain's entire overall recruitment.

Precise numbers are not available for the total number of people joining from the Republic each year -- but it is estimated that upwards of 4,000 Irish citizens are now in the British armed forces.

One British army source said that recruits from the Republic were especially prized because most boast a decent education and all want to make the military their career.

"It is no surprise that a significant number of non-commissioned officers are from Ireland," he said.

In 2006 -- 12 months after British troops largely withdrew from patrolling the streets of Northern Ireland -- people from the Republic already made up 4pc of recruitment in the province.

In 2008, recruitment figures for Northern Ireland showed that 16pc of those joining the British defence forces had addresses in the Republic.

Each year from 2005 to today, the numbers joining the British army from the Republic have increased.

Initial indications are that the recruitment number will increase again this year.

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