Key Appointments will see Fundamental Reform and Culture Change in the Force

Martin Heydon, Kildare South TD and Minister of State, has said that Government plans to significantly increase funding for our defence forces will strengthen Ireland’s military capacity, in turn fortifying the livelihoods of the many personnel in Kildare, while also bringing fundamental reform to the structures of the Defence forces and key culture changes.

Minister Heydon was speaking as further details were announced today of the proposal from Minister Simon Coveney to implement a high-level action plan for the future funding of the Defence Forces arising from the recommendations of the Commission on the future of the Defence Forces, which was established at the start of this Government.

“This is a monumental decision for the future of our defence forces with the largest investment in the force in the history of the state.  The commitment is to increase annual defence spending to €1.5bn by 2028 equivalent to ‘Level of Ambition 2’ (LOA2) from the Commission report.  These increases from the current spend of €1.1bn a year are index linked which will cover inflation and will see over €2bn in additional funding on defence in the years to come, strengthening the ability of the force to protect our nation and its citizens.

“This six year commitment of multi annual funding will allow for significant investment and reforms as set out in the high level action plan revealed today.  These include transformational change to modernise the Organisational Culture, Human Resources Strategy and practices, significant reform of the High-level Command and Control of the force as well as the creation of a Joint Strategic Headquarters.  I look forward to ongoing investment in the Curragh Camp in particular as significant investment in buildings are also proposed.

“A number of early actions are outlined for the six month period from July 2022 to December 2022, including 4 key appointments to lead the reform and culture change envisaged in the plan:

  • a civilian Head of Transformation reporting directly to the Chief of Staff;
  • a civilian Head of Strategic HR reporting directly to the Chief of Staff;
  • a Gender Advisor reporting directly to the Chief of Staff; and
  • a Digital Transformation Officer to lead a digital transformation programme working under the Head of Transformation.

“A new lead position of Chief of Defence proposed in the Commission’s report is favoured by Minister Coveney but needs further assessment and legal advice form the Attorney General.

“The plan proposes the commencement of planning for military radar capabilities, including primary radar and an incremental increase in personnel numbers of 2,000 over the current establishment of 9,500.

“Firstly, we need to get back up to 9,500 which is something we’re working very hard to do. One of the key barriers to that in the past has been the fact that a Three Star Private or an Able Seaman has had to mark time for the first three years before qualifying for the military service allowance. This commitment means those personnel will qualify immediately for the Military Service Allowance, which is an important step. and will make entry into Defence Forces more attractive.

“Fundamental changes to the defence landscape since the invasion of Ukraine are acknowledged in this plan. A mature respectful debate on the future of our overall defence policy is proposed through a strategic Defence Review for later this year.

“This is a really exciting day, a new era for the funding of our Defence Forces and how we treat our Defence Forces into the future.  It is something that I have fought for in my time in Leinster House and as a representative of Kildare South I’m really pleased to see it to delivered today.  I commend Minister Coveney and his team for their work on this and I look forward to working closely with him in the time ahead to see its implementation”, concluded Minister Heydon.