Ireland’s military cannot properly defend country

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Ireland’s Defence Forces cannot properly defend the country against acts of aggression from conventional military forces, according to a new report which has urged a radical overhaul of the military.

The Commission on the Defence Forces report said that Ireland is an “outlier” among Western European nations in how little is spent on defence, and outlined a range of options for politicians to consider.

Under the most ambitious proposals, there would be a 300% increase in defence spending – bringing Ireland’s defence budget from €1.1bn (£930m) to around €3bn (£2.53bn) – which would see the Naval Service fleet increase to 12 ships, and the Air Corps equipped with fighter jets.

Ireland currently has no combat jet aircraft and would purchase between 12 and 24 jets under the most far-reaching proposals. It would also obtain long-range transport aircraft.

When the country’s special forces, the Army Ranger Wing, was sent to Kabul last year to evacuate Irish citizens, they were forced to travel on French military aircraft.

Maintaining the current status quo, the Commission said, would leave the Defence Forces unable to conduct a meaningful defence of the state from attack, and would also force the military to step back from overseas missions.

Ireland has long been regarded by military analysts as the weak link in the defence chain of Western Europe.

Its military weakness, precipitated by decades of defence under-spending by successive governments, was highlighted this month by Russian plans to engage in live-fire exercises in Irish-patrolled waters.

File photo of members of The Irish Defence Forces. EPA-EFE/Aidan Crawley

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