Two of the Irish Naval Services’ nine ship fleet will be docked indefinitely as the inability of the state’s Defence Forces to retain personnel continues.
Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Fianna Fail councillor for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Cormac Devlin said: “of all three of the services provided by the Defence Forces here in Ireland and overseas, the Naval Service has proven to be absolutely necessary in meeting the challenges facing Europe.
“Irish vessels have been a core part of the European Naval Mission in response to the migrant crisis on the Mediterranean Sea.
“Just two years ago the LÉ Eithne rescued more than 700 very vulnerable people from the water and in desperate need of safety.
“Dún Laoghaire has a close association with the LÉ Eithne and the harbour is twinned with the vessel.
“As Cathaoirleach, I was delighted we could recognise the efforts of the officers and crew of the LÉ Eithne in the Mediterranean with a special award of “Freedom of Entry” to Dún Laoghaire in 2017.
“Now we learn, that the LÉ Éithne, our Navy’s flagship patrol vessel, which happens to be our only ship with a flight deck, and LÉ Orla will both be taken off duty with no definitive prospect of ever returning to operation,” added Devlin.
Cllr Devin says that this is a “direct consequence” of the government’s failure to provide pay and better working conditions to Defence Forces staff.
“The longer the inaction on the Pay Commission Report continues, the more our Defence Forces will have to cease its services,” he says.
“It shows contagion within our defence forces and basic service level commitments are being compromised due to inaction from government.
“The Air Corps are also experiencing such serious staffing shortages; it took hours to even establish a basic crew to fight gorse fires in Donegal recently.
“This news marks a new low. It’s quite shocking that it has come to this.”
The Irish Naval Service and Minster of Defence Paul Kehoe TD had not responded for comment on the docking of the two ships by the time of publication.