Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney has said that he accepts “virtually everything” in the report into the Defence Forces.
It is “probably the most significant report” into the Defence Forces in the last 50 years, he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
It is going to be “hugely challenging” for the Government to respond to the report, he added. The report did not pull its punches and he hopes it would now lead to a very positive debate about the Defence Forces.
Mr Coveney added that the report was “a very credible, hard-hitting honest report that the Government now needs to find a way of responding to”.
Ireland’s Defence Forces could not adequately protect the country from an attack should one happen, he admitted.
It would take “four to five months” for the report to be analysed fully as there is a lot of detail in relation to pay and allowances that have to be examined. The report contained strong recommendations about “the totality of remuneration package”.
When asked if there was the political will to address the concerns, Mr Coveney responded: “What we spend on defence in Ireland and what we have spent does reflect poorly on the priority of defence in Ireland”.
In order to ensure the Defence Forces were properly resourced, the Minister would have to make the political arguments to spend “potentially hundreds of millions of euro” when the money could be spent elsewhere.
In the report, Ireland’s defence forces had been compared with eight other countries of similar population all of which spend “dramatically more than we do”.
There is a strong argument that the Defence Forces are under-resourced for what they are expected to do, added Mr Coveney.
Former defence forces officer Cathal Berry TD told the same programme that the report had the potential to be “transformational” if the resources were made available.
A simple measure would be to allow the two military representative organisations to affiliate with ICTU on the issue of pay. Military representatives had been “locked out” of national pay talks for decades which had led to a widening gap between military pay and other pay.