Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea has told army officers that cut backs made in the Defence Forces in the past decade will be taken into consideration when the McCarthy reforms are being decided upon by the Government.

The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers had earlier complained that if previous streamlining was ignored by the Government, the Defence Forces would be subject to ‘organisational performance punishment’.

Over the past few years, ten army barracks have closed down, numbers in the Defence Forces have been cut, while equipment, training and facilities were modernised.

However, at the two-day conference of RACO in Cavan, general secretary Colonel Brian O'Keeffe warned against further cuts to the forces and insisted that efficiencies of the past decade would have to be considered when the proposed reforms in the McCarthy report are being decided.

Mr O'Dea said the sacrifices made by the Defence Forces will be recognised by the Government when making its decisions.

He also said recruiting would start shortly to bring numbers in the forces back to above 10,000.

The acting Chief-of-Staff, Major General Dave Ashe, welcomed the minister’s commitment.