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Pay increases and funding boost for radar sought as part of €8 billion defence proposals

A decision on the Commission on the Defence Forces will be brought to Cabinet today.

The recommendations will require an additional 2,000 personnel – both civil and military.
The recommendations will require an additional 2,000 personnel – both civil and military.
Image: PA

DEFENCE MINISTER SIMON Coveney has recommended increases in pay and a raft of proposed Defence Forces initiatives, including radar, as he brings a funding boost to Cabinet.

Coveney is bringing his decision on the Commission on the Defence Forces to Cabinet today.

The Fine Gael minister will recommend that the Government should increase defence spending from its present allocation of €1.1 billion a year to €1.5 billion a year by 2028.

The increase will be inflation-adjusted to 2022 prices, a move that was welcomed by security sources.

This would mean that approximately €8 billion would be spent on defence between now and the end of 2028. Coveney’s recommendation is a level two ambition, according to the commission’s report, and is an acceleration on a 2030 timeline set out in the document.

The move will require an additional 2,000 personnel – both civil and military – over and above the current establishment of 9,500. Work has already commenced on achieving this level of recruitment.

It’s understood that Coveney will ask his Cabinet colleagues to prioritise monies for military radar capabilities, including primary radar.

It’s also believed he will ask the Government to approve the payment of military service allowances to the rank of all ‘private, 3 star’ in the army and ‘able seaman’ in the Navy.

This would remove the requirement for those in the ‘private, 3 star’ and ‘able seaman’ ranks to mark time for the first three years as they would get increments each year.

Currently these ranks don’t get increases until their fourth year of service.

The Defence Forces will also be allowed to enhance the Sea Going Service Commitment Scheme, which aims to provide some certainty about adequate numbers of personnel being available for offshore patrols.

The Commission was appointed to come up with a review of the state of the Defence Forces. It was one of the commitments in the programme for government and was set up in December 2020.

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It returned with an evidence based assessment of Ireland’s military in February which essentially said it was not fit for purpose.

Speaking on the way into Cabinet this morning, Coveney said that the recommendations were about more than increasing funding for the Defence Forces.

“It’s also about a very fundamental reform to the Defence Forces, it’s about a change of culture, it’s about getting an awful lot more women into the Defence Forces, [and] it’s about increasing the size of the Defence Forces very significantly,” he said.

The Journal reported earlier this month that the delay in bringing a memo to Cabinet for the implementation of the Commission on Defence Forces recommendations was being blamed on friction between two Government departments.

It was pushed back as the Department of Defence (DOD) and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) engaged in discussions regarding funding.

Last week a Capability Report of Ireland’s defence sector identified frustrations with funding management, a lack of a defined Defence policy document and “extremely strained” tensions between Defence Forces personnel and civilian leadership.

About the author:

Niall O'Connor and Céimin Burke

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