A new nationwide association to represent former members of the Defence Forces has been launched.

The founders say there is a need for a group to stand up for nearly quarter of a million former soldiers in the new financially strapped Ireland.

They say the plight of ex-members of the Forces has been swept under the carpet for too long.

The group, the Irish Defence Forces Veterans Association, is to work alongside other associations for serving and former soldiers.

The IDFVA say issues such as training, education, re-employment after service and protection of pension rights will form the backbone of their work.

The new association will make contact with community based agencies to form partnerships to help ex members of the Defence Forces to become an even greater asset to the local community.

More information about the association can be found at www.idfva.org.

New military judge sworn in

The new military judge for the Defence Forces has been sworn in.

Michael Campion, a solicitor, had been a civilian until he was commissioned last week. He had previously been an officer in the Reserve Defence Forces.

He now has the rank of Colonel and his main function is to preside at courts martial.

Col Campion is the second full time military judge and the first to be appointed by open competition from outside the Permanent Defence Force.

The post of military judge was introduced 2007 and up to last year it was only open to qualified officers within the Permanent Defence Force.

Colonel Campion is son of the former international showjumper, Col Ned Campion.

He is married to Angela Becker and they have four children aged between 17 and four.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said Col Campion will now bring particular skills and expertise gained in private practice to the role of military judge.

Mr Shatter said Col Campion's knowledge of the cut and thrust of civilian practice, together with his military experience, will benefit him in his new role.