| 16°C Dublin

Military spending to top €1bn for only second time as protection is beefed up

 

Close

Beefed up: Army  Rangers show off some of their equipment

Beefed up: Army Rangers show off some of their equipment

Beefed up: Army Rangers show off some of their equipment

New armoured vehicles are being bought for the Defence Forces while others are being upgraded to beef up force protection for Irish peacekeepers serving overseas.

Money to fund the measures has been allocated in the defence budget, which, at €1.04bn, is the second time it has topped €1bn.

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said the allocation emphasised the importance attached by the Government to ensuring the Defence Forces had the resources necessary to deliver on all roles assigned to the military, both at home and overseas.

A mid-life upgrade Army Mowag armoured personnel carrier fleet, which is used extensively on overseas missions, has been listed as a top priority investment project.

It is also planned to replace the Air Corps Cessna craft as well as the CASA maritime patrol craft and carry out a mid-life refit of two Naval Service vessels.

Strength

Funding is also being made available for a range of capital investment across force protection, transport, communications and information technology, weapons and ammunition systems.

More than half of the budget, €544.6m, will be spent on pay and allowances for 10,400 public service employees, comprised of a targeted 9,500 military although the current strength is less than 8,600, as well as 550 civilians and 355 civil servants.

Mr Kehoe welcomed an increase of over €15m to provide for outstanding commitments under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 as well as increases in allowances arising from the recent Public Service Pay Commission report on recruitment and retention issues in the military.

The findings of the commission report, published last July, have been accepted by members of Raco, which represents officers, by a majority of more than two to one.

Pdforra, which represents soldiers, sailors and air crew, is due to decide on whether its members will accept it in the coming weeks following the announcement of additional measures at its annual conference last week.

A further €259m has been set aside for pensions, up by €10m, to provide sufficient funding to meet the retirement benefits of around 12,640 former members of the Defence Forces and certain dependants.

Some €37m worth of capital projects to benefit from budget funding include accommodation at the Defence Forces training centre at the Curragh, Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin and at Casement Aerodrome at Baldonnel, Co Dublin.

Also being funded are training facilities in Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick and Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny, as well as storage facilities at the Curragh training centre, catering at Custume Barracks in Athlone and a fuel storage system in the Naval base at Haulbowline, Co Cork.

Irish Independent