In the late 1980s, the 'army crisis' was dominating headlines in Ireland. Complaints of poor pay, low morale and unsatisfactory conditions for those serving in the Defence Forces were growing louder against the background of a government accused of being indifferent and an army hierarchy accused of being incapable. From amidst the turmoil, a group of women stepped up to pursue the rights of their men. Political crisis and a general election followed, but a commission established to examine the Defence Forces ignored the call for soldiers to acquire their own representative body. This book reveals for the first time, the deep-seated philosophies, tensions and reservations between Ireland's military and its government from the foundation of the State to the present day. It explores in detail the events that led to the successful pursuit of the democratic right of association for members of the armed forces in Ireland. It articulates the concept of the citizen in uniform and the special relationship between members of the armed forces and society. This is the story of the breaking of ranks.