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U Turn on white paper an option

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  • U Turn on white paper an option

    U Turn on white paper an option
    Catherine Cleary
    Security Correspondent
    The Sunday Tribune

    The elimination of 1,000 people from the Defence Forces in order to save millions in payroll costs was considered by the government and remains an option for negotiation with the military this year if further spending cuts are required.

    The Estimates Review Committee told the government that it could save €15 million by eliminating 500 people from the Army, Navy and Air corps this year with a further 500 job cuts bringing total savings to €25 million. The move would be seen by the military as a breaking of promises made in the White Paper on Defence published in February 2000 as a blueprint for the development of the Defence Forces.

    After a highly public clash between Defence Minister Smith and military chiefs an assurance was given in the White Paper that the number of people serving in the Permanent Defence Forces would not drop below 10,500.

    In a letter to Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy in October Smith warned his cabinet colleague that the move to reduce numbers would represent a u-turn on the White Paper commitments.

    “The ongoing programmes of investment in much needed infrastructure and equipment for the Defence Forces are being mainly financed by pay savings and barracks sales which involved painful decisions for the Defence Forces. The proposed reduction will make it very difficult for me to counter the argument that the government is reneging on the White Paper commitments,” Smith wrote. “The strength of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) has reduced from 13,000 in 1996 to about 10,600 at present. As a result of proposed expenditure reductions, it is likely that the 2003 strength till have to be kept at or below the 10,500 leaving little scope for recruitment. Any further reduction in PDF numbers would create enormous difficulties for the Defence Forces” Smith said.

    “In the current situation, I will accept the proposed allocation for Defence in 2003. However I need to consider further, in consultation with the Defence Forces, where the reductions should be applied to that I can try to ensure that priority programmes of investment in equipment and infrastructure are maintained as far as possible”

    According to the Department of Defence the elimination of 1,000 jobs in the forces “is not on the cards at the moment”. However like other cost saving measures recommended by the committee it is one of a range of moves that can be looked at in the future if necessary. Agreement would have to be reached on such a move between the Minister for Defence and the Defence Forces and the move would require a Cabinet decision.

    As part of their submission the committee justified the recommendation with the following comment: “While the Committee recognises that the February 2000 White Paper on Defence provided for an authorised strength of 10,500 plus 250 training, the Committee considers that there may be a case for reviewing this in light of current defence, security and economic circumstances”

  • #2
    Whats the deal with all this saving anyway? The exchequer reported a surplus the other day,not as large as they had hoped ,but still a surplus,not a deficit!
    The Best way to save money is to create it. Use it! It does no good sitting in a bank somewhere! They would be proud at the end of their term to hand over the accounts to the next government saying
    "well we saved all this money,but as a result the population has halved,so you are not going to get as much in tax....and the half that are left are not working..sooo....But we have a new government jet so you can leave the country too like the rest of the population..."

    Survival in any example,real or financial means investment in the future. Cutbacks,as recent history has shown are not the answer in the long term. Those who remember the days of cutbacks will remember it as a miserable time for all. It was only when the cash was flowing that Ireland started doing well in the world.

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


    • #3
      the only reason for a surplus was because charlie did'nt allow any money for the new road projects to go trough. guaranteed that €95m is long gone by now