Minister Coveney today announced the allocation of €904m in Defence funding for 2016. With an increased allocation for 2016, this represents a new very significant commitment to Defence and will allow Defence to deliver on the commitments outlined in the recently published White Paper on Defence.
Minister Coveney stated: “Today’s Budget announcement marks a new chapter in spending and commitment for the Defence Forces. For the past number of years it has been necessary to stabilise the economy and put the national finances on a sound footing but now Defence expenditure, linked to the White Paper on Defence, is increasing again.
“The White Paper on Defence sets out the roles that Government have assigned to the Defence Forces and looks at associated capability requirements. The allocation of over €900 million to Defence will enable the Defence Forces to undertake these roles with professionalism and dedication. It will also facilitate the implementation of the White Paper proposals, including the replacement of major equipment platforms and other priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service.”
Minister Coveney emphasised the significance of the Capital allocation of €66m in 2016 and €437m over the period of the ‘Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021 Plan’. This will allow Defence to prioritise and plan for significant capital investment programmes over the coming years.
Minister Coveney stated: “We have had a very good outcome from the capital plan announced recently, where, over the next six years, we will see an increase in capital expenditure for Defence to a total of €437m over the life of the Capital Investment Plan.
The 2016 budgetary allocation will allow Ireland to continue to deliver on all roles prescribed for the Defence Forces, both domestically and overseas and Minister Coveney highlighted, in particular, the role played by the Naval Service in their deployment to the Mediterranean this year, as he stated: The people of Ireland can truly be proud of the work the Naval Service has done and is continuing to do and I wish them every continued success with their work. This is in addition to the ongoing high standard of performance by the Defence Forces on other overseas missions and in their various security roles at home.
The gross allocation provided to the Defence Sector in 2016 is €904m: comprising of some €680m for Defence (Vote 36) and €224m for Army Pensions (Vote 35). Some €498m of the Defence Vote provides for the pay and allowances, of over 10,500 public service employees. This pay provision will allow for ongoing recruitment and the Minister has re-affirmed his commitment to maintain the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at a level of 9,500.
The non-pay allocation of €182m (including €66m in capital) provides mainly for essential and ongoing Defence Forces standing and operational costs together with the necessary procurement and upgrading of defensive equipment. The Naval Vessel Replacement Programme continued in 2015 with the addition to the fleet of the LÉ James Joyce and the third ship purchased under the programme, the future LÉ William Butler Years, is scheduled for delivery in July 2016. This programme was advanced without recourse to additional funding and was financed through careful management of financial resources.
The Defence Vote also includes funding for the Reserve Defence Force, Civil Defence and a grant to the Irish Red Cross Society.
As regards the Army Pensions Vote, there are over 12,100 military pensioners paid by the Department of Defence. Army Pensions expenditure is largely non-discretionary and demand-driven.
The launch of the White Paper on Defence has established the strategic parameters within which Defence will operate over the next decade and Defence policy will need to be responsive to any emergent changes in the domestic and international peace and security environment.