Defence Forces accepting recruits without necessary security checks

Recruiters are under pressure to accept new applicants before they can be vetted by the gardaí

Defence Forces accepting recruits without necessary security checks

File photo, members of the Defence Forces at the 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Commemoration Ceremony 24-04-2016. Image: RollingNews

Recruiters for the Defence Forces are resorting to Google to establish applicant’s background - because the Garda vetting process is too slow.

It means new troops are trained in explosives, advanced weaponry and tactics before it is known whether or not they have a criminal record or connections to criminal gangs.

Basic training time has also been reduced in a bid to reverse the exodus of personnel from the Defence Forces.

"Brain drain"

A 30% turnover in personnel over the past five years has led to a significant loss of knowledge and experience within the Defence Forces ranks.

The government has committed to recruiting 1,600 new personnel over the next two years in an effort to build the force back up to its “establishment strength” of approximately 9,500 members.

According to The Sunday Independent, the rush to replace members as they leave has led recruiters to forgo security protocols including garda clearance – which can take between three and six months.

The paper reports that recruiters have been forced to rely on letters of reference from people “of good standing" in the local community as well as Google searches.

Security protocols

On Newstalk Breakfast, Brendan Smith, the Chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee said stringent security protocols exist for a reason:

“We know that there are undesirables out there,” he said. “There was an effort at one stage in the 1970s for some undesirables to get into the FCA as it was at the time.”

“We don’t want any weakness in the recruitment of the permanent defence forces that could be exploited by paramilitary groups or other thugs and criminals.”

Meanwhile, cuts to basic training mean it now takes 16 weeks – rather than 18 - to qualify as a two-star private.

A further training course for promotion to three-star private has also been cut from eight weeks to six.