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Internal Documents Reveal Frustatrion Over Naval Service Ships Controversy

12th August 2019
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Papers detail efforts by officials to prepare Minister Paul Keogh for media questions. In an announcement last June LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla (above) were being taken out of active service due to personnel shortages which caused considerable anger among Defence Forces personnel. Papers detail efforts by officials to prepare Minister Paul Keogh for media questions. In an announcement last June LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla (above) were being taken out of active service due to personnel shortages which caused considerable anger among Defence Forces personnel. Photo: INS facebook

At the Department of Defence, reports The Irish Times, they were unhappy with how the military responded to media queries about two Naval Service ships being taken out of service, internal documents show.

An announcement last June that the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Orla were being taken out of active service due to personnel shortages caused considerable anger among Defence Forces personnel and led to calls for the resignation of Minister of State with responsibility for defence Paul Kehoe.

In a Naval Service newsletter, Flag Officer Cmdr Mick Malone stated the service needed to “cut its cloth to measure” and that the ships were being placed in an “operational reserve capacity until adequate numbers of sufficiently qualified and experienced personnel are available”.

The Defence Forces press office then appeared to confirm this statement.

A week later, Mr Kehoe contradicted Cmdr Malone’s statement and said the ships were being withdrawn for “routine maintenance”. He said media reporting to the contrary was inaccurate.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar then appeared to contradict Mr Kehoe when he repeated Cmdr Malone’s assertion that the Naval Service was “cutting its cloth to measure”.

Throughout this period officials in the department expressed frustration and confusion with events as they struggled to get the Minister’s messaging right and discern the exact reasons for the withdrawal of the ships, according to internal communications released to The Irish Times following a Freedom of Information request.

Much more on the state of the Naval Service can be read here. 

Published in Navy
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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