By Industrial Relations Officer

PDFORRA, the organisation representing soldiers, sailors and airmen and women of the Defence Forces, is seriously concerned about the impact of reducing to a two brigade structure is having on its members and their families, especially in the Athlone area.

In the past weeks serious concerns have arisen in the Athlone area, as it was believed that several hundred soldiers and their families would have to change station, as a direct result of the downsizing and subsequent shutting down of a Brigade Headquarters in Costume Barracks.  Simon Devereux, Deputy General Secretary of PDFORRA said today, “we are particularly concerned for our members and families in the Athlone area, who are bearing the brunt of the downsizing.  We do welcome a statement from Minister Shatter read in the Dáil yesterday (14th June) assuring us that ‘in the order of 1000 personnel’ will continue to have posts in Athlone – after the downsizing and restructuring is complete.  Our members in the Western Area have experienced the decimation of their facilities in recent years, with six barrack closures; in Mullingar, Castlebar, Cavan, Lifford, Letterkenny and Longford.  They have shown great resilience in dealing with this level of significant disruption and it is most surprising that Custume Barracks and the entire Western Region is now experiencing further downgrading”

PDFORRA again wishes to question the thinking behind reducing the Defence Forces from a three to a two Brigade structure and we again call on the Minister to re-consider this decision.  It is not clear where the savings will emerge from such a short-sighted decision.  Our members will have their career structure and expectations seriously damaged by this decision.  There is ample scope to facilitate a three Brigade structure with the 9,500 troop strength now being retained.

PDFORRA members and especially their families have noted the muted response of many elected representatives on the barrack closures and the loss of the Western Brigade, – all impacting greatly on communities in the western area.  Similar responses have not applied when workers and families in other sectors have been so affected.

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