'hell on earth' | 

Concern as Irish teens sign up to Ukraine Foreign Legion with no military experience

In some cases, the gardaí have been forced to intervene in the recruitment process after concerns were raised

Ukrainian forces in a tank in Bakhmut, Ukraine. Photo: Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images© Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Some young Irish men are reportedly signing up for and making travel plans to go fight in Ukraine, despite having no military or combat experience.

In some cases, the gardaí have been forced to intervene in the recruitment process after concerns were raised, The Irish Times reports.

The Ukrainian Foreign Legion recruits individuals from around the world who may wish to join the war effort, though combat experience is required.

Interested applicants must also be at least 25-years-old before attempting to enlist.

There is no law restricting people from volunteering to fight in Ukraine, though The Irish Times reports that concerns about specific applicants were raised with Ukrainian authorities who promptly cancelled their enlistment when it was revealed they were too young, inexperienced or had undisclosed health issues.

A garda spokesperson has confirmed to sundayworld.com that at least one report is currently under investigation.

"An Garda Síochána in Wicklow are aware of concerns expressed in relation to a particular individual and continue to engage with the persons making the report,” they said.

“An Garda Síochána cannot provide any further information.”

The International Legion of Defense of Ukraine tells potential applicants that they can volunteer “if you have any combat experience, know first-hand how to handle weapons, are confident in military and high-stress situation, have a strong will to defend world peace, are ready to join right now.”

They are invited to enlist and provide their proof of military or law enforcement service before making plans to travel.

According to the Irish Times however, claims of combat experience do not necessarily need to be proven with documentation and applications can be approved without it.

The recruitment site tells hopefuls that fighting “is hell on earth.”

“This is not a place for a military tourism or an opportunity to gain extra skills – we don’t have time to train people that are not ready. If you’re not ready – each day could be your last day out there.

“There are many sad stories about foreign legionnaires being totally unprepared for Ukrainian warfare reality coming to Ukraine just to find out that they are not ready before they quit.

"In order to avoid their mistake, when filling the application please be as honest as possible, above all to yourself.”

A number of Irishmen have been deployed as members of the Foreign Legion since the war in Ukraine began.

Last August, Brian Meaghar (35) revealed what life was like on the ground to RTÉ’s Primetime programme.

The man has fifteen years of experience in the Irish Defence Forces and was seriously injured while fighting in Kharkiv during his first week of deployment.

"I regret that I got hit so quickly in the offensive,” he said, revealing he had multiple pieces of shrapnel stuck in his heart and spinal cord.

"I just wanted to do more. I couldn't so that's probably my only regret. I'm very glad I came here.

“I know if Ireland was invaded, I would want Europeans and foreign men to come and help us fight. So that's all, that's all I did."


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