Thursday 23 March 2017

Another new ship for Naval Service not ruled out

Minister Simon Coveney
Minister Simon Coveney
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

An extra ship for the Naval Service may be purchased if the existing fleet is unable to complete its fishery patrol duties off the Irish coastline because of commitments to the humanitarian rescue mission in the Mediterranean.

At the moment the service has eight vessels, which is regarded as a minimum requirement. But Defence Minister Simon Coveney hinted last night that buying another ship could not be ruled out.

He said the Government could agree to sending a ship back to the Mediterranean in the Spring - the current commitment is due to end in December - and this would place pressure on the service to fulfil its duties at home.

With the arrival of the LÉ William Butler Yeats next year, the Naval Service will have been given three new vessels in four years. "And that's not a bad record," the minister quipped.

He said the Budget announcement of a €904m allocation marked a new chapter in spending and commitment for the Defence Forces. He said the money would allow the military to undertake their assigned roles at home and overseas with professionalism and dedication and facilitate the implementation of the Defence white paper proposals, including major equipment replacement for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.

Mr Coveney said the dispute over the size of daily allowances to be paid to the crews of the vessels on duty in the Mediterranean would be sorted out shortly through arbitration.

The final decision would have to take into account the implications for future missions overseas, he added.

Meanwhile, €25m has been handed to the Department of Justice to manage the resettlement and relocation of 4,000 people, in response to the international migration crisis.

This includes funding for the setting up of a network of new emergency reception and orientation centres to initially accept and then process those in need of international protection.

Irish Independent

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