The Government’s decision to increase defence spending by 50% by 2028 has been criticised by independent TD and former Army Ranger Cathal Berry as “not enough”.
The war in Ukraine has caused Governments across Europe to re-evaluate their security situation and boost defence spending; Ireland is no exception and Minister Simon Coveney will today ask the cabinet to increase the military’s budget from €1bn to €1.5bn annually.
It would be Ireland’s biggest increase in defence spending in decades but Deputy Berry said it still falls short of what the country needs:
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“It’s the largest [investment] in defence in this country since the Second World War at least - so I very much welcome it indeed.”
“So currently Ireland spends about a third of the EU average on defence and if this €500 million a year comes on tap in six years time we will then be only spending half the EU average.
“So it’s not enough but it’s certainly a good start.”
Support for the troops
Minister Coveney foresees that the money will mostly be spent on increasing the number of troops, upgrading military facilities and buying new kit - all issues that Mr Berry has campaigned on over the years.
“Primarily it’s for hiring people so there’s about 3,000 people more that are needed - 3,000 permanent people, as in regular people,” he explained.
“There’s about another 3,000 reservists needed to be hired as well. So people is number one.
“Secondly, it’s the premises. Most of the military barracks were built by the British about 150 years ago and they’re in a very bad state of repair.
“And thirdly then it’s for kit development like radar, new helicopters, new aircraft and new ships as well.”
“At an individual level, most people in the country would lock their windows and doors at night to protect their family.
“But also as a nation state level, a nation state also needs to be able lock its windows and doors at night to protect its public and currently we’re not able to do that.
“So this investment is very prudent and very sensible and long overdue.”
'Not capable of being a military force'
However, the announcement is unlikely to be universally welcomed in Dáil Éireann; Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has previously told Newstalk that a large increase in defence spending would be a waste of money:
“Ireland is simply not capable of being a military force and influencing events in the world - that’s just a material reality,” he said in March.
“Ireland spends a billion euros a year on defence spending and at most they’d like to take it up to three - the US spends 700 billion like!”
Main image: Members of the elite Irish Defence Forces Army Ranger Wing (ARW) hold a demonstration day in the Curragh Army Camp to mark the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the wing's inception.