Ireland’s “depleted” Naval Service will need “dramatic” budget increases in order to fully meet the demands of the State in the years ahead, Simon Coveney has said.
Despite widespread praise for the role of the Defence Forces in the operation, Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney admitted the Navy is not “operating as it should” and needs sustained reform and investment.
“We’re a long way from [a fully operational Navy] at the moment,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why we have a commission report on the future of the Defence Forces that needs to be implemented in full.
“That’s why we need to see dramatic increases in the defence budget in the years ahead - which we have committed to, by the way.
“It’s one of the very few areas where we have committed to a multiannual budget increase, through until 2028.”
Recruitment and retention
Minister Coveney, who served as Minister for Defence until last year, said significant numbers of service personnel have quit for jobs in the private sector and replacing them is proving to be a “huge challenge”.
“Part of the reason is that Ireland is at full employment right now,” Minister Coveney said.
“So, a lot of our very talented people in the Naval Service - particularly engineers - have been headhunted by the private sector and have been offered big pay packets to leave.
“You can understand why some of them have.
“It’s also about the lifestyle - to go to sea for long periods of time puts strain on family life.”
Last year, the Government committed to increasing defence spending from €1 billion to €1.5 billion annually by the year 2028.
Main image: Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media after disembarking the L.É. Samuel Beckett on Sir John Rogerson's Quay, 01-09-2021. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews