The defense (2007) comprises about 10,500 men enlisted.
The reserves amount to about 15,000 people. The army, 8,500
men, is organized into three brigades. The fleet disposes of
eight combat ships and the Air Force 15 armed helicopters.
Ireland contributes to UN peacekeeping operations in 14
countries with observers and in Serbia with a company
(KFOR). Ireland is alliance-free. Defense costs decreased in
1985-2007 from 1.8% to 0.4% of GDP. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that IRL stands for Ireland.
Ireland's defense overview
Ireland has no military service; all military personnel
are permanently employed or recruited for at least three
years at a time. Ireland has been a member of the NATO
Partnership for Peace since 1999. The combined force figures
for Ireland's armed forces are 9350 active personnel, with a
reserve of 4050 personnel (2018, IISS).
The forces are easily equipped, and Ireland does not have
fighter jets. NATO provides combat aircraft and personnel.
The army has a workforce of 7500 active personnel. Heavy
equipment includes six light trucks and 101 armored
personnel vehicles. The air component has a personnel force
of 880, two maritime patrol aircraft, five light transport
aircraft, eight training aircraft and eight helicopters. The
sea component has a personnel force of 1100, eight patrol
vessels and two auxiliary vessels.
Ireland participated in 2018 with UN peacekeeping forces
in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) with four
personnel, in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 353 personnel, in the
Middle East (UNTSO) with 13 observers, in Syria/Israel (UNDOF)
with 126 personnel and in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with
In addition, Ireland participated, among others, in the
NATO operation in Serbia (KFOR) with 12 personnel.
In 1988, the two governments clashed after London refused to
investigate members of the Northern Irish Police, the RUC,
accused of shooting at suspected terrorists, without making
any attempts to arrest them. In return, investigations
against the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR) initiated the
deaths of 6 IRA members in 1982.
In the first months of 1989, violence broke out again. In
April, three members of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA)
were detained in Paris along with a South African diplomat.
It was suspected that South Africa provided them with
weapons to receive secret missile technology that the UDA
had stolen from a British factory in Belfast.
In September 1989, the Irish government demanded a full
investigation of the UDR - the main Protestant volunteer
force among the security forces in the north. Its purpose
was to uncover its contacts with paramilitary Protestants
and, in particular, its transfer of secret intelligence
documents. Britain agreed to the request, and the following
month 94 UDR soldiers were arrested.
In April 1991, in Belfast, multi-party negotiations began
in a new attempt to solve Northern Ireland's political
problems. These were the first lengthy negotiations since
1974. The participants were the political parties of the
area - the Protestant Unionists, the Catholic Nationalists
and the Alliance Party - and the government in London. Sinn
Fein who is the provisional IRA's political branch was
specifically excluded from the negotiations. The reason for
this was that the party refused to condemn the violent
actions of the IRA, and in return demanded immediate
withdrawal of all British troops, disarmament of the RUC and
full reunification between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Opinion polls published in London at the start of
negotiations revealed that a majority of the British were
prepared for British forces to be withdrawn from Ulster. At
the same time, the IRA launched one of its largest military
offensives - both in Northern Ireland and the United
Kingdom. In early 1992, Republican supporters of
independence conducted a series of fire attacks on
industrial and commercial companies.
From the end of 1991, an escalation of the attacks on
Catholics by the Protestant paramilitary groups was also
recorded. These groups declared that they would implement an
"eye for eye, tooth for tooth" policy against the IRA's
In response to requests from Protestant politicians and
the rising violence, London sent hundreds of fresh troops as
reinforcements to Northern Ireland. They joined the 11,000
British troops already stationed in the area, the 6,000 RUC
volunteers and the 12,000 police officers.