The purchase of radar for the Defence Forces “will take some time to deliver”, the Tánaiste has told the Dáil.
In 2021, the Commission on the Defence Forces advised the Government to purchase a primary radar system to allow the State to monitor suspicious objects that enter Irish airspace.
The price tag for such a purchase could be as much as €300 million and Micheál Martin said the Government remains “totally committed” to the project.
“Delivery of primary radar is extremely complex and will take some time to deliver,” Minister Martin said.
“However, delivery has been prioritised by Government and this year’s increased capital allocation for defence includes funding to progress the development of a primary radar capability.
“Government is totally committed to resourcing radar capability.”
Last year, Britain’s Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said RAF’s planes “have deployed into Irish airspace on occasion. It is for the Irish Government to set out their policy on why, when and how.”
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy asked if the lack of radar meant “we are not in a position to meet what is a basic requirement of our Defence Forces” and thus forced to rely on the British.
Minister Martin conceded the State currently has “limited capabilities to monitor or intercept foreign aircraft in Irish skies” but following the purchase of radar there would be “comprehensive provision.”
Last week, the Irish Times reported the existence of a Cold War memo that revealed the Irish Government asked the RAF to watch over Irish airspace as long ago as 1952.
Professor John Brennan said the memo made a mockery of successive Governments claiming Ireland is a neutral State.
“The 1952 agreement that’s been in the news, it shouldn’t surprise us and if the RAF has been patrolling our skies since that time - how on earth can we claim that we’re neutral?” he said.
“We’re essentially a proxy of NATO.”
Main image: Micheál Martin meets members of the Defence Forces. Picture by: Alamy.com