By Dominic McGrath, PA
The Taoiseach has promised greater investment in the Defence Forces during a visit to Lebanon.
Micheál Martin was in Lebanon over the weekend to visit members of the Irish Defence Forces.
He said that there were “gaps and deficiencies” in current levels of defence spending.
A recent report recommended major upgrades and reforms for the Irish Defence Forces, with the Commission on the Defence Forces warning that continuing “business as usual” will leave Ireland without a credible military capability to protect the country.
The war in Ukraine has also focused minds on Irish investment in national security and renewed debates about the policy of military neutrality.
“Without question, we do need to increase resources towards our Defence Forces, in all aspects of our Defence Forces – air, sea and land forces,” Mr Martin said.
“In particular, equipment, technology and also to continue to resource those who serve.”
Proud to address our Lebanon peacekeepers on UN International Day of the Peacekeeper. pic.twitter.com/orYlMTLkiD
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) May 29, 2022
“Without question, we acknowledge there are gaps and deficiencies in defence spending. The challenge now arising out of the commission is to provide a timeline and a programme that will address that in terms of increased investment towards the army.”
He said that the issue would be discussed at Cabinet level in the near future, with “work under way” by officials and civil servants to plan for what the increased investment package might look like.
“The war in Ukraine is a very strong reminder of the necessity to improve our defences. It has exposed in many respects vulnerabilities in terms of the European continent.”
On Sunday, Mr Martin laid a wreath in the southern Lebanese town of Tibnine in memory of the 47 members of the Defence Forces who have lost their lives serving in the country.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney was also there as part of the visit, alongside Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Sean Clancy.
Mr Martin also suggested that a citizens’ assembly on Irish neutrality could be on the cards within the next few years.
The Taoiseach told reporters he would “hope” to see an assembly discuss the issue within the lifetime of the current Government.
“Certainly we need to reflect on that, post the Ukrainian war.”