IRELAND’S ‘DEFENSELESS FORCES’
Ireland’s defense forces were deemed “critically inadequate” in 1971 and required a multi-million-pound equipment boost and a crash recruitment program to double numbers, according to a military assessment marked “Top Secret”.
The document considers various doomsday situations arising from the Northern Ireland Troubles and assesses the combat readiness of the Republic’s forces. The scenarios considered include an interference with the democratic institutions by subversives in the Republic, incursions from the North by the British army units or loyalist “partisans,” or incursions into the North by Irish troops.
The document concludes that combat efficiency was “extremely low.” The assessment was regarded as so sensitive only 11 numbered copies were made. A senior Defense Department official commented in a 1968 memo that the overall impression he got was of a “Defenseless Force” rather than a Defense Force.
Though there were 8,500 members of the permanent Defense Forces in 1971, only 2,300 were capable of combat duty. The others were apprentices, band boys, administrators, paper pushers, garrison minders or were just too old to fight.
It said that if a situation developed in the North that might justify action, that even with the full mobilization of the country’s resources, stockpiling of all warlike stores and use of all reserves, a successful outcome could not be ensured.
ARMS AND ‘CHILDREN’
A controversial German arms dealer who sold the guns at the center of the 1970 arms crisis said his Irish clients were completely “inexperienced.” Otto Schluter referred to them as “children” and said he was genuinely shocked at their improvidence — “spending money with complete unconcern for the value received.”
The secretary general of the Department of Finance, Charles Murray, wrote to Schluter to “hereby claim” the money on behalf of the Irish people. About