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Defence Forces

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 10 March 2022

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Questions (4)

Mattie McGrath


4. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Defence if he is considering an increase in the capacity of the Defence Forces given the impact of the Russian invasion of a sovereign state Ukraine which is also a neutral State; and the expected financial costs of an increase in capacity. [13738/22]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

Ireland's defence policy is set out in the White Paper on Defence (2015) and the White Paper Update (2019).  Both the White Paper and the White Paper Update were based on security environment assessments carried out by interdepartmental groups.  These assessments considered the threat to Ireland of a conventional military attack as possible but unlikely.    

The White Paper and the White Paper Update are clear that the security challenges are such, that no single country can deal with these alone.  The white Paper also highlights the importance of the UN and EU for collective security.  Ireland strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a position I have repeatedly reaffirmed at UN Security Council meetings on Ukraine and in EU meetings.  I would like to assure the Deputy that Ireland will continue to work with our EU partners and at the UN to shape a collective response, and has supported the adoption of a package of sanctions on Russia, some of the toughest sanctions the EU has ever imposed. 

The report of the Commission on the Defence Forces and the current events in Ukraine are prompting an open debate and consideration of our defence requirements.  I fully accept there is an ongoing requirement to consider whether the capabilities we maintain are appropriate, having regard to the security environment, the roles that we wish the Defence Forces to undertake, and likely risks.   

This is why the Programme for Government gave a commitment to estabish an independent Commission on the Defence Forces to examine immediate requirements while also seeking to develop a longer term vision for beyond 2030.  The Commission was established in December 2020 and their report was published on the 9th February 2022.  Within  a relatively short period of time the Commission produced a substantial piece of work running to over 200 pages with a large number of significant recommendations.

The Commission's report is being fully considered, in consultation with Ministerial colleagues and other stakeholders.   The intent is to revert to Government with a proposed response and a high-level action plan in advance of the summer recess.   As the Deputy will appreciate, it would be inappropriate for me at this time to pre-empt an ongoing deliberative process.  

Questions Nos. 5 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.