I am extremely concerned by reports that serving members of the defence forces did not get an opportunity to vote. I raised the situation in the Dáil and called on Minister Kehoe to investigate why so many members did not get their voting cards.
As I understand it, many members of the Defence Forces missed out on their opportunity to vote. The reasons range from not getting their postal votes on time to being taken off the postal vote register. Other members only received their postal vote cards the day before the election and while some officers accepted these at the polling booths, others did not.
While I was at the count centre in Kildare I was informed by the wives and partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF), that the ballot boxes for some of those serving overseas were not sent. I saw photographs of boxes of ballot papers, which were taken on Monday, after the election, and they had not been sent.
I found this particularly disturbing given that a major campaign was launched on social media against the Government in recent weeks by a number of groups associated with military personnel. They were seeking to highlight the appalling conditions being endured by military families.
Defence Force members are unable to participate in any kind of protests or work stoppages. It is usually left to their families and to veterans to stand up and have their voices heard. One way they can and do have their voices heard is at the ballot box but unfortunately for many this time that was even denied to them.