Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty,has today (Friday) called on the President of the Garda RepresentativeAssociation to withdraw what she described as the insulting remarks hemade in relation to the Defence Forces earlier this week.
“I was shocked when I heard the commentsfrom the GRA President, Damien McCarthy, earlier this week in relationto the Defence Forces. I find it perplexing that Mr McCarthy would chooseto ostracise a group that not only provides a vital service to the Irishpublic, but which also works hand in hand with the Gardaí on a regularbasis.
“During his address to the GRA conference,Mr McCarthy launched a broadside at both the Minister for Justice, AlanShatter, and at the Defence Forces when he questioned why additional membersof the Defence Forces are being recruited. I understand that Gardaí areunder pressure due to the moratorium in the public service, but that isno reason to lash out at the hard working members of our Defence Forces.
“We do not need different sectionsof the civil and public service to be pitting themselves against each other.I note that PDforra, which represents the 8,000 soldiers, sailors and aircrewof the Defence Forces, has expressed its surprise at the comments madeby Mr McCarthy. I am sure that many of its members were offended, as wellas surprised, by the remarks.
“The Defence Forces provide an essentialservice to this country. Last year alone, the Defence Forces were calledout to deal with more than 230 suspicious devices, 46 of which were improvisedexplosive devices. These are essentially homemade bombs that are oftenplanted in residential communities around the country.
“The decision to recruit an additional500 members of the Defence Forces was taken in light of the fact that numbersare 700 below the agreed strength for the army, naval service and Air Corpscombined. I view this as a welcome initiative that will not only strengthenour Defence Forces, but will also take 500 people off the live register.I call on Mr McCarthy to take all of these issues into account, and withdrawhis comments before they cause even more offence.”