I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 11, 39, 41, 53 and 59 together.
The Commission on the Defence Forces was established on foot of a commitment in the programme for Government and a Government decision in December 2020, which also agreed its terms of reference and membership. The report was published on 9 February last. The commission undertook a significant body of work encompassing its wide-ranging terms of reference. The report contains 69 main recommendations and, together with subrecommendations, there are 130 recommendations in total. The commission's terms of reference included the consideration of appropriate capabilities, structures and staffing for the Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service.
The report proposes significant changes for the Defence Forces, including to the Defence Forces' culture, high-level command and control structures, and for the level of defence provision in Ireland. These are matters that will require careful consideration and, in some critical aspects, interdepartmental discussion and agreement. This includes the level of resourcing that may be allocated to defence, legislative implications and the governance framework that will be required to underpin any changes the Government approves on foot of the commission's report.
I will also be seeking the views of my Department and the Defence Forces. The Defence Forces representative associations will be consulted on all matters that fall within the scope of representation, relating to the implementation of any approved plan. I will also engage with key stakeholders and the Oireachtas. I welcome the Dáil statements on the report that took place on 16 February. I firmly believe this is an opportunity to have a mature debate around the type of defence capabilities we require, and I am very much open to such a discussion. Current events are highlighting the importance of such a debate in terms of broader security questions. The intent is that, following relevant consultation and before the summer recess, it is hoped in June, I will revert to Government with a proposed response to the commission's recommendations and a high-level action plan. This high-level plan will set out proposed timelines and oversight arrangements for its implementation. For obvious reasons, I cannot go into what will be in that report.
We now have a really good and detailed commission report on the Defence Forces and their future, which is evidenced-based, looks at international benchmarks in an appropriate way, shows up, in my view, a significant underinvestment for decades in the Defence Forces, and capacity constraints and capacity gaps that need to be filled and responded to. For the first time in a very long time, we have a clear set of recommendations that I believe make sense and now need to be turned into a Government action plan for resourcing, change and reform across the Defence Forces. We need to invest in and build a Defence Forces that are fit for purpose now and into the future.
If ever we needed a reminder and a context as to why that is necessary, we see it now in terms of the war in Ukraine, where the security architecture of the Continent of Europe is being turned on its head. We have seen countries like Germany change foreign policy and defence policy overnight. We are seeing countries like Sweden and Finland seriously considering NATO membership for the first time with the support of the majority of their populations. Like other countries, Ireland needs to consider its place in the European Union, how we deal with defence issues, how we assess what is neutrality and military non-alignment today in the context of EU security, Irish security and the well-being of Irish people, and how we do that in the context of new and developing threats such as, for example, cyberthreats, which ten years ago were a non-issue but now probably are the most significant threat we face. In the middle of the pandemic we had a cyberattack on our health system that put lives at risk and cost the State well over €100 million to resolve and which is still not fully resolved. We face a combination of new types of threats, a changing geopolitical situation and far less stability on the Continent of Europe in terms of basic security but, in my view, there is a resolve and a new determination within the European Union to address and protect the kind of quality of life we expect and have built over the past five decades or so together within the European Union, which quite frankly is literally under attack right now with bombs, bullets and bloodshed.
With all of that in mind, we need to have a mature and evidence-based discussion on how Ireland moves forward in this space. The combination of that new context as well as probably the most significant report on defence in my lifetime, which I have now in front of me with a set of very clear recommendations, can, I hope, allow us to make informed policy choices and resourcing choices before the summer recess in terms of how we progress the defence agenda. I hope we will be able to achieve cross-party support for that. This is about designing a Defence Forces and a defence policy for the next 20 or 30 years. It is not just about the lifetime of one Government or one political party's view. That is the way I will be approaching it.