Call for return of army’s western command highlights long journeys for Donegal personnel

 

TD highlights increased travelling for training for Finner Camp soldiers

Battalion to parade through Donegal Town today ahead of deployment to Lebanon

Personnel at Finner Camp are having to make more journeys to Dublin since the abolition of the army's western command in 2012

The abolition of the army’s western command has led to army personnel based in Finner Camp in Donegal having to travel to Dublin rather than Athlone for training, the Dáil has heard.

The issue was raised by Independent TD Marian Harkin who said the abolition of the western command was a mistake and has been revealed in problems associated with the training programmes to qualify for promotions in the army.

Addressing the Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe,  she pointed out that prior to the 2012 re-organisation of the Defence Forces, training was done in Athlone. A corporal, for instance, could train to be a captain at the more accessible Athlone rather than the much more difficult journey to Dublin, she said.

For operational matters, she told the minister, soldiers from Donegal and Athlone had to travel to Dublin on rotation. 

“This is a complete waste of time and has a serious impact on people’s daily lives and work-life balance,” she said.

The TD for the Sligo - Leitrim constituency, which includes part of south Donegal, called for the minister of state to consider the re-establishment of the Western Command in Athlone following an assessment of the effects of its change of status.

She pointed out that due to the availability of pilots who had lost their jobs in the private sector that there was the opportunity to create airlift capacity and employ some of the newly available pilots.

In his reply, Deputy Kehoe indicated that a number of pilots had shown interest in returning to the Air Corps with five re-enlisting up to now.  He also indicated that the incoming government would have to address the issue of public sector pay with all that implied for organisation and conditions in the defence forces.

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