As the Irish economy plunges towards the precipice, and any few bob will be eagerly grabbed, I offer a solution that will save over €1 billion annually. Get rid of the army. Close it down.Take away their toys and send them home. And then sell of all the prime land currently occupied by square-bashing soldiers.
Maybe. But tell me this - why does Ireland need an army? What's that you say? we'll be immediately invaded by Russia or France in its absence? Get this. Our army is too small by a factor of fifty to deter any potential invader. So what purpose does it serve?
Peacekeeping abroad, you say.
Well, for a start we don't keep the peace anywhere. In fact the very idea of the Irish keeping the peace takes some digesting. We do indeed go to various trouble spots, but always under draconian UN-defined restrictions. This means that if the army is attacked by well armed enemies they're not allowed to fire back. They must first ring the UN General Assembly, which will tell them to fire one warning shot. If this doesn't work they may fire a second, again after consulting with New York. Then, and only then, (assuming any of them are still alive) they may fire one round at the enemy's feet.
Anyway, it seems to me that our army operates under the assumption that once any nastiness starts they get the hell out. This isn't a reflection on their courage, it's just that this seems to be the arrangement. In any event I've gone right off all of these initiatives, like the current one in Darfur, where today's enemy is tomorrow's ally, and vice versa.
We have no internal enemies and even when the IRA was active the army played essentially a back-up role.
What about our EU partners, you ask? Well, I'm sure they make all the right noises about needing our forces, but in fact they're just a drop in the ocean and nobody would even miss them.
Costa Rica, a wealthy, peaceful country in the middle of violent fucked-up Central America, doesn't have an army. Which probably explains why it's been democratically run by civilian governments since they decommissioned it - the first country to formally do so.. And they've never been invaded since then.
Now of you go, Brian Lenehan and Brian Cowan. Look at the money I've saved you.