Ireland defence spending to grow to €1.5bn by 2028

The Government is to go ahead with the largest increase in the defence budget in the history of the state.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has announced that the government has approved a move to ‘Level of Ambition 2’ (LOA2), as set out in the capability framework devised by the Commission on the Defence Forces.

This will result in the Defence budget rising from €1.1 billion to €1.5 billion, in 2022 prices, by 2028, the largest increase in Defence funding in the history of the State. This will allow for the required substantial transformation and investment in recruitment and equipment that were identified by the Commission.

The move to LOA2 will require an additional 2,000 personnel (civil and military) over and above the current establishment of 9,500. Work has already commenced on this with the recently announced recruitment campaign, ‘BE MORE’.

Some specific initiatives include the immediate commencement of planning for military radar capabilities, including primary radar and the establishment of an Office of Reserve Affairs with the priority objective of developing a regeneration plan for the Reserve Defence Force.

Following on from the Cabinet decision, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated, “The Action Plan we are launching today makes a clear commitment about our ambition for defence – just as our Defence Forces strengthen the nation, we must ensure that we strengthen our Defence Forces.

“This single biggest investment in the history of the State shows the government’s strong commitment to urgently support the Defence Forces transition into a modern military force that is agile, with the appropriate capability, culture and values that reflect modern workplace and today’s Irish society.”

A High-Level Action Plan (HLAP) that sets out the government’s response to the recent report of the Commission on the Defence Forces was also approved. The HLAP has now been published on the Defence Forces’ and Department of Defence websites[1],

In pointing to the fact that the Commission had identified an urgent need for HR and cultural transformation within the Defence Forces, Minister Eamon Ryan explained, “In order to provide momentum to the HR and cultural change process, Minister Coveney has requested military management to progress, as a matter of priority, an open recruitment process to fill a number of new positions including 2 civilian posts of Head of Transformation and Head of Strategic HR to drive the transformation and cultural change that is urgently required within the Defence Forces.”

Noting that the Commission made a number of recommendations concerning existing pay structures, Minister Coveney welcomed the fact that the government has agreed to immediately progress the following recommendations:

  • removal of the requirement for a Private 3 Star/Able Seaman to ‘mark time’ for the first 3 years at that rank
  • payment of the full rate of Military Service Allowance (MSA) applicable to the rank of all Private 3 Star/Able Seaman personnel; and
  • provision of immediate access to the Sea-going Service Commitment Scheme to direct entry personnel in the Naval Service

Minister Coveney concluded, “In line with all elements that fall within the scope of Representation, implementation of such recommendations will be the subject of consultation with Defence Forces’ Representative Associations.”

The government also noted the significant work ongoing in a number of areas referred to in the Commission report, including:

  • the establishment of an Independent Review Group (IRG) on dignity and equality issues in the Defence Forces and the introduction of a number of immediate measures to provide supports pending the outcome of the IRG
  • opportunities to develop our defence capabilities and joint procurement offered by participation in PESCO and the European Defence Agency. It is less than a week since the Dáil approved Minister Coveney’s proposal for the Defence Forces to join 4 new PESCO projects
  • consideration of associate membership of ICTU for the Defence Forces’ Representative Associations, and the recent offer and acceptance of conditional temporary consent to both
  • liaison with the Ombudsman for Defence Forces on the possible enhancement of the remit of his office

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