More and more Irish people are joining the British Army – as a direct result of the recession.
New figures obtained by the Irish Independent newspaper show Irish recruits have doubled in the last three years.
The freeze on recruitment in the Irish Army, brought about by economic cutbacks, is fuelling the increase according to the paper.
The paper states that a total of 123 Irish citizens signed up for the British forces in 2011 alone.
One Irish recruit told the Irish Independent of his experiences. And Tipperary native Felix O’Mahony, who asked not to be photographed, admitted he keeps his occupation secret when on a night out back home.
“Even from when I was very young I’d play at being a soldier, it was all I ever wanted to be really,” the 26-year-old told the paper.
“My dream came true two and a half years ago when a friend of a friend was involved in recruitment for the British Army in Enniskillen and I signed up through him.
“It felt like the right thing to do and my best mate was a soldier with the Irish Guards for five years so I knew that was the regiment I wanted to serve in if possible.
“Because of the freeze in Ireland many people are looking to the British Army as a viable alternative.
“It’s not such a taboo anymore. If some have a problem with Irish people fighting in the British Army they’re entitled to their opinions but I certainly have received no grief for my decision and my family and friends at home are fully supportive.”
A number of Irish soldiers in the British Army have lost their lives in recent years but O’Mahony has just returned from a 12 week tour of duty in Afghanistan and believes more people from the Republic will be attracted to the job.
“I really notice an awful lot more Irish people serving nowadays, you hear the accents everywhere and they come from all four corners of the country,” he said.
“I see the whole thing as much more than a career, it’s a lifestyle. It gives guaranteed employment for 12 years and if you want to carry on and fit the criteria that could be 22 years.
“I’m delighted I chose to join the British Army and can see more and more Irish people doing the same in the years to come.”