Kildare South Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has today said that he believes Ireland’s participation in PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) would have many positive benefits for Ireland, for the Defence Forces and for Kildare.  He was speaking during a Dail debate before a vote on the motion today (Thursday).

“I support the proposal for Ireland’s participation in PESCO which will see EU countries come together and on a project by project basis jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of EU common security and defence policy.

“As a small Country facing many threats it makes sense to be part of a wider structure with our EU Colleagues which can provide support and expertise to us at times of threat. One example of an area I believe it will be very useful is against the threat of cyber terror. For threats of this nature I want to know that Europe has a coordinated approach and that we are at the heart of it.

Deputy Heydon continued: “Another project in which we might consider participating, under the PESCO framework, relates to the establishment of a centre of excellence for EU military training missions.

“In fact, not only should we look to participate in that initiative, we should seek to host the training.

The 2015 White Paper on Defence outlined an ambitious plan to develop a peace and leadership institute in the Curragh Camp, which would help to build on our international reputation as world leaders in peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

“I hope that our joining PESCO will lead to the advancement of that proposal. It would involve the development of a state-of-the-art institute of international standing to which non-governmental organisations and politicians from all over the world could come to study peace enforcement and conflict resolution strategies.

“That type of investment would not only enhance our international reputation but also create significant employment in south Kildare and attract substantial investment into the area.

Deputy Heydon concluded: “The Tánaiste was very clear that there is absolutely no obligation under PESCO to increase our defence expenditure to 2% of GDP. Having said that, I want to see increased investment in our Defence Forces in the future, not just in equipment and infrastructure but also in personnel.

“Members saw a significant reduction in their allowances late in the past decade. If we are to continue to attract and retain the best people, we must move to reinstate those allowances.”