Ireland's Defence Forces see "very clearly" that it cannot meet the policy and level of ambition set out by the Government in 2016, Chief of Staff General Sean Clancy has said.

He said he agrees with an assessment that the country’s defence capability is not credible, and while the report from the Commission on the Defence Forces is hard hitting, he said he wholeheartedly welcomes it.

The commission's report into the capabilities, structures and staffing of the Defence Forces was published yesterday and stated that the scale of change recommended would be "challenging and far-reaching".

It said the Defence Forces would need time and space to transform and modernise, but that "change is essential and implementation cannot be long-fingered".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Gen Clancy said the commission was stark in its assessment, "that business as usual is not good enough and no longer credible. We are not comparable with military forces similar in size to countries similar in size to Ireland."

He said the people of Ireland deserve better, but it is "down to Government to decide what it wants of its Defence Forces."


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Gen Clancy also said he "absolutely acknowledges" that the Defence Forces has a problem with women and said he has laid out clear ambitions to change the inequality that exists with regards to women.

He said he would encourage his own daughter to pursue a career in the Defence Forces and the vast majority of people in the forces have a good, positive experience.

"We have gaps. We have serious failings, but we know what they are. And the first thing in bringing a solution to any problem is being able to identify the problem and know what it is.

"And the commission clearly calls out that in very stark terms to us, but I'm determined to make changes necessary to bring about a more positive, inclusive and equal organisation," he said.

Gen Clancy said that while the commission's report did not focus specifically on the topic of pay it did look at the "total value package" including allowances.

"It has some very positive initiatives in the report around allowances, in particular concerning those hardest hit and those on the lowest levels of pay."

He said the Government has said it would look at a pay review body after the commission's report was completed.

Russia rejects 'baseless' insinuations that it poses a threat

The report by the Commission on the Defence Forces warned that maintaining the status quo would leave the Defence Forces unable to conduct a meaningful defence of the State against acts of aggression from conventional military forces.

Today, the Russian Embassy in Dublin issued a statement following the report.

Ambassador Yuriy Filatov noted: "While the subject of the report is clearly an internal matter for Ireland, one cannot but note an attempt by the Commission to substantiate its conclusions with a notion of a threat, allegedly posed by Russia to the security of Ireland.

"Any unbiased observer would be hard put to find any evidence of such a 'threat'."

He said attempts to portray Russia negatively were "misplaced and regrettable".

Ambassador Filatov added: "We also reject as totally unfounded the conclusions by the EU Council and the Council on Foreign Affairs of the EU quoted in the report, referring to 'aggressive actions' by Russia.

"These insinuations are not only baseless, they are also especially unhelpful at the time of great tension in Europe, created by the US and its NATO allies.

"We believe now is the moment for mature and responsible decisions, which would be based not on political fiction, but on reality, as all as an imperative need for the all-European system of security."