Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (377)

Sorca Clarke


377. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Defence the status of the planned purchase of a €200 million multirole vessel for the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11303/21]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is maintained to the greatest extent possible. This is primarily to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government as set out in the White Paper on Defence. Equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are being considered in the context of the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and Equipment Development Planning (EDP) process.

In this context, the principal aim over the period of the White Paper is to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements at home and overseas. Budget 2021 provides a Capital allocation of €131m for investment in Defence equipment and barracks infrastructure and will enable continued investment in major equipment platforms, including the replacement and refurbishment of Naval Service vessels. The increased capital funding for 2021 builds on increased levels of capital expenditure totalling €392m over the years 2018 – 2020.

As a result of the White Paper commitment to Naval Service vessel replacement, the replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel (MRV) is the immediate White Paper project in this context. The MRV project is an important developmental project and indicative of the commitment to on-going investment and development of defence capabilities. It is a major project and work remains on-going in progressing it. This project is in planning phase and it is intended to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV, subject to availability of funding within the overall Defence capital funding envelope.

Future Naval Service capabilities will be considered over the life-time of the White Paper in the context of overall capability development and funding and the EDP process.