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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney Tom Honan/

Defence Forces have been 'under-resourced for a long time', Coveney says

It comes after Coveney confirmed that Russia is to relocate its military drills outside Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE and Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that there have been capacity issues in Ireland’s armed forces for some time, and he will be advocating for a significant increase in resources for them.

Coveney told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme that he has accepted “for a long time” that the Defence Forces have capacity issues that need to be “addressed honestly”.

It comes after Coveney confirmed Russia is to relocate its military drills outside Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Journal first broke news of the development last weekend.

Coveney was responding to a question about a draft document obtained by the Sunday Independent from the Commission on the Defence Forces which indicates that the forces are not adequately equipped to meaningfully defend Ireland from an outside attack.

Coveney said: “I think this report is going to, I hope, trigger a very fundamental debate in Ireland, politically, about how we financially resource, military and defence issues in Ireland.”

Over 200 people left the Defence Forces in the last two years, leaving the number of personnel below the recommended minimum.

Coveney said: “What we have had for some time is a series of questions around the capacity that Ireland has, as a militarily neutral state, in terms of core defence issues, and of course, the kind of interventions that we want to make abroad through peacekeeping as well.”

But this was “absolutely not” a reason to scale back peacekeeping, he said.

“The role that Ireland plays as an international peacekeeper is hugely important, and we should keep doing that. And in fact, it’s by preventing conflicts emerging and developing in other parts of the world, managing post-conflict situations that actually we make the world a safer place for everybody, because this is all interconnected now.

“We know that from Ukraine being the best and most recent example of that, so Ireland needs to play its part abroad, but we also need to have clear capacity to face the risks that this commission will outline very clearly in their reports, when we publish it over the next couple of weeks.”

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