Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence

European Defence Agency Project: Motion

Photo of Tony McLoughlinTony McLoughlin (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State and acknowledge the wonderful work that has been done by the Defence Forces at home and abroad over many years. It is only right and proper that the wonderful work being done by all of our personnel, of whom we have been proud and supportive over the years, is put on the record.

On the small amount of funding that is required for the project to proceed, as the Minister of State noted, the Defence Forces deal with unexploded improvised explosive devices and so on. For the safety of our people, it is vital that we engage and, given the funding that is being made available, support the motion as a committee. The corps of engineers needs to be specialised, which it is, and the finer points of its duties must be dealt with. It must be given top priority. The Minister of State referred to an overall cost of approximately €157,000, which is vital for the Defence Forces in addressing the current deficiency in the advanced level of engineering specialists and searching-and-clearing capabilities. I have seen at first hand what the Defence Forces have done at various places around the country. Members of the Defence Forces must be protected and safeguarded, and they must have not only the equipment but also all the knowledge and know-how. I have no hesitation in supporting the motion.