RACO is the mockya trade union representing the officer class of Oglaigh na hEireann (no, not the Northern Oglaigh na hEireann, but the lads with the brass buttons down South). And, in recent years RACO gets itself into a state of agitated excitement whenever it deliberates upon the onerous task of ensuring we sleep safely in our beds, and that Militant Muzzies do not harm us.
This year’s knees-up mostly consisted of a shot across the bow of Defence Minister, Simon Coveney who, the ‘ossifers’ claim, isn’t doing enough to provide them with the means to defend us from attack, invasion, or drastic dismemberment, such as severing the head from the body with a kitchen knife. Excessive budget trimming, they said, compromises their talent for dealing with the barbaric Isis.
But the chaps have a plan. Oh yes! Coveney, they say, should purchase jet fighter aircraft: something in the style of the F-35 Lightning ii-fighter bomber which is a snip at €89 million US dollars. Or a few of those F-4 Fighter Phantom bombers that Israel wangles from the Yanks at scrap value and sells-on to any idiotic country interested!
Medium to long-range radar and state-of-the-art eavesdropping equipment are also needed to enable our glorious Armed Forces (oops, sorry, Defence Forces) uphold ‘international order, European values, our way of life’ – and other NATO stuff.
They also demand that the Defence Forces should be more family-friendly. Barrack closures, disbandment of units, and increased time away from the missus was getting up their wick – or to put the matter more delicately: continual relocation with as little as one week’s notice to move and no return date was placing enormous stresses on family relationships.
Childcare, travel, accommodation and ‘dining at a new post’ were causes of significant financial concern, i.e. it was costing them a packet. Indeed, Haulbowline matelot, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett (yep, we now have admirals!), who is Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, was told in no uncertain terms that ‘individual officers’ were facing an enormous strain to uphold their oath to the State and at the same time ‘their oath to marriage.’
Cripes! What a dilemma!
But it’s no fun for our soldier boys to live like itinerant swagmen, carrying their belongings in a bundle as they move from place to place. Indeed we’re reminded of Kipling’s doggerel about the long-suffering British Tommy. It goes like this (suitably amended):
‘We aren’t no thin red ’eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But married men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, married men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints.’
Bombing the bombers
In the case of the Tommy Atkins-style member of RACO, the emotional tumult that he suffers as a result of nomadic military life happily does not impinge on the Associaton’s rationale for dealing with Isis. RACO’s solution is simple: Coveney must buy top-of-the-range jet aircraft as ‘a priority in mitigating a terrorist threat’ and then bomb the fundamentalist bastards into eternity, assuming he can locate them as they swarm across the Knockmealdowns, black flags undulating in the breeze, raping and pillaging as they go.
With the proviso, of course, that no missile hits 6 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, site of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia – world leaders in beheading, stoning, flogging and amputations, and who gave us Wahhabism – the ideology underpinning Isis and much of current global mayhem.
Interesting too that the Saudi Embassy has 33 accredited diplomats in Dublin, an extraordinary number! What in the name of Allah are those guys getting up to, we wonder, considering that Ireland has just two diplomats in Riyadh? The British Embassy has six accredited diplomats in Dublin.
RACO was not the first to raise the prospect of the State purchasing multi-million dollar combat interceptors (fighter jets). Last August, in his White Paper on Defence, Coveney tickled the fancy of our Colonel Blimps with a mouth-watering paragraph suggesting the need for having something like jet aircraft as a priority in the event of a terrorist attack. When later questioned in the Dáil, the Corkonian referred curious TDs to page 116 of the White Paper, which stated that investment in defence would be given ‘the appropriate consideration, notwithstanding other pressing demands for resourcing.’
The reply was interpreted as a Fine Gael affirmative for bomber planes to be included in a vastly increased future military budget. But, to the man in the street, the purchase of fighter jets makes no sense.
How can they deter Ali Baba and his Forty Throat Slitters who operate deep within Europe’s capitals, they ask? Rather the plan is seen as a devious PR stunt to turn Ireland into a fully committed participant in the Western alliance, with NATO as the prime organisation.
The Gardaí certainly have no plans to bomb Isis, should the savages be found operating in this country. In fact the Boys in Blue have no plans at all for dealing with the biggest terrorist threat in history – which is remarkable.
As reported in this newspaper, a leading imam, Dr Ali al-Saleh, warned that Ireland was not doing enough to combat Isis and he pointed to extremists congregating at two of the 26 mosques in Ireland. As well, between 30 and 40 Irish citizens (no one knows the exact number) went to join Isis, some of whom have now returned from Syria.
As for the Garda response, well, it is not unlike that of the Army officers: namely, sort the cash out first, Mr Kenny, and we’ll see what can be done. In carefully placed reports in the printed media, ‘security sources’ declared that the failure to fill vacancies and the slashing of overtime budgets ‘limited Ireland’s ability to maintain a handle on the activities of potential Islamic extremists.’
The specially-created Counter Terrorism International (CTI) has about 30 members and loads of jobs that can’t be filled because of cutbacks. Even the infamous auld Special Detective Unit has fallen victim to overtime cuts, with Branchmen complaining they can’t keep tabs on suspects without proper back-up. In short, the garda response to Isis is a shambles.
But most astonishing of all is the fact that there is not one Garda within the surveillance units who can speak or read Arabic; and there is nobody with Arabic skills to monitor social media for security issues. When in a fix, the Gardaí rely on outside bodies such as Interpol, the PSNI, private citizens and one or two Muslims who are members of the Garda Reserve.
And yet, in response to jingoistic NATO demands, Coveney and the Blueshirts appear ready to invest millions in the purchase of fighter planes! What sort of madness is that?