Mental health of Defence Forces personnel must be prioritised

12 June 2019

Labour Spokesperson for Defence Brendan Ryan TD has called on Government to establish a permanent body for the provision of physical and mental healthcare of members of the Defence Forces. 

In an amendment to a Fianna Fáil motion on Defence, Deputy Ryan has also sought a dedicated recruitment drive for psychiatrists to the safeguard mental health of Defence Force personnel, a review of conditions for female personnel and a right of affiliation with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. 

Deputy Ryan said:

“It is thirteen months since the in-house physician in the Defence Forces retired and no replacement has been made. Our amendment calls for the establishment of a dedicated body within the Permanent Defence Forces to monitor and mediate the long-term care needs, physical, mental and material, of current and former members, in particular, those who have returned from service abroad.

“We are also seeking a commitment by the Government to fast-track the recruitment of psychiatrists to safeguard the mental health of current and former members of the Defence Forces. We are seeking an urgent review of conditions for female personnel within the Defence Forces to explain past recruitment failures and a recommitment to increasing gender balance in the force.

“This Government is three years old now and it is an absolute shocking indictment of this do-nothing Government that no progress has been made to improving and investing in our Defence Forces. Time and again their request for small improvements in conditions have been ignored by the Minister for Defence. 

“The very practical measures we have been calling for during this time concerning the correct implementation of the working time directive, affiliation with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, increases in pay, in vital allowances and proper investment in Barracks, equipment, facilities and amenities, have all fallen on deaf ears.” 

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