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British army sees more Irish recruits

By Heather McGarrigle

There has been a seven-fold increase in Irish recruits to the British armed forces since the recession began.

Figures obtained by Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes revealed 10 people with addresses in the Republic of Ireland joined the British military between 2007 and 2008.

From 2009 to 2010 this number rose to 85.

Mr Hayes requested that Lord Dubs, a colleague on the British-Irish Parliamentary body, obtain the figures by tabling a question in the House of Lords.

It is thought that the recruitment embargo in the Irish public service, which includes the defence forces, is the main reason for the significant rise.

The Sunday Tribune yesterday reported that Mr Hayes said there is always a rise in Irish recruits to the British army in times of economic downturn. He acknowledged that the recruitment embargo did have a part to play.

He said: “The embargo on recruitment to the defence forces here will make it more of an option for those who want to join an army.

“And as there is an historical connection between Ireland and serving in the British military, people look to the British army at a time like this.”

Other factors are believed to have contributed to these figures, such as the general lack of jobs in Ireland, plus the appeal of working overseas.

A spokesman for the British army told the Sunday Tribune: “The British armed forces does not have a recruitment presence in the Republic of Ireland.

“All of the candidates and eventual recruits apply through recruitment offices in the UK.

“With regard to employment statistics, we are not prepared to release definitive statistics.”

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