Minister Coveney today welcomed the significant allocation of over €1.07 billion in Defence Sector funding outlined in Budget 2021. This represents an increase of over €32 million on the corresponding 2020 budget allocation, and will allow Defence to carry out all assigned roles and deliver on White Paper commitments.
Minister Coveney stated:
This allocation of over €1 billion in funding emphasises the importance attached by this Government to Defence and will provide our Defence Forces with modern and essential equipment and supports necessary to enable them fulfil all roles assigned by Government.
Ensuring adequate funding for pay and allowances for a target Permanent Defence Force strength of 9,500 was a priority for the Minister. He welcomed the increase of €10.5 million in the Defence Vote to provide for outstanding commitments arising from the Public Sector Stability Agreement 2018-2020 and, in particular, the restoration of 5% cut in Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) allowances imposed under FEMPI. In addition, the Minister for Defence welcomes the roll over of the Sea-going Naval Personnel Tax Credit for a further year and its increase to €1,500.
The White Paper on Defence Update 2019 reinforced the requirement for significant capital investment on defensive equipment programmes and on upgrading and modernising the Defence Forces Built Infrastructure.
In that regard, Minister Coveney welcomed the additional €18 million in capital funding allocated to the Defence Vote for 2021, and stated:
the increase in capital funding to €131 million for 2021 will allow Defence to continue the replacement and renewal of essential military equipment and also address the need to modernise Military installations, as identified and prioritised in the published 5 Year Infrastructure Plan.
The Minister’s key priority is to expedite a range of infrastructural projects across Defence Forces installations, including new and refurbished accommodation blocks in Haulbowline, Renmore and at the Curragh, a new medical facility which will enable the move out of St Bricin’s site which in turn will allow the Land Development Agency to provide social and affordable housing in this area. In addition, there is funding for new gyms in Kilkenny and Limerick. Today’s package, also enables the Minister to provide significant investment in ensuring that the Defence Forces are best placed to maintain and enhance the existing Defence Forces building stock.
Expediting the infrastructure programme will contribute extensively to both the quality of facilities for Defence Forces personnel and also to the domestic economy through the creation and maintenance of jobs in engineering and construction
the Minister said.
Minister Coveney reinforced his commitment to restore the Permanent Defence Force to its target strength of 9,500 as he added:
The Government remain committed to returning to and maintaining the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 and I have ensured that the Defence Vote is fully funded to meet the costs for the full target strength.
Minister Coveney also paid tribute to the work carried out by the Permanent Defence Force, Civil Defence, Reserve Defence Force and his Department during the Covid-19 pandemic:
As always, members of the Defence Forces, and Civil Defence have excelled in a time of national crisis. There has been a sustained and dedicated response to the challenges presented by Covid 19 across the Defence organisation which has been of enormous benefit to the HSE and other arms of the State battling this pandemic on a daily basis.
In conclusion, Minister Coveney stated
The people of Ireland can truly be proud of the marvellous work the Defence Organisation has undertaken on their behalf this year and will continue to do in 2021.