Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


6:45 pm

Photo of John BradyJohn Brady (Wicklow, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

There is a fundamental divergence in the ideological and strategic approach of the Minister and me on the defence budget. The premise of the Minister's strategy towards the development of the Defence Forces seems to be one of "If they build it, they will come". Unfortunately, as this plays out, his foregrounding of capital expenditure means that while he will have secured a whole lot of new tanks, ships and so on, there will be very few members of the Defence Forces left to crew them. The Minister's failure to address the retention crisis in the Defence Forces in this budget means we will witness a loss of its members this year of between 600 and 800 personnel. That is this year alone. That is not sustainable. To reach the Minister's target of 400 extra personnel this year in addition to the establishment figure of 9,500, the Defence Forces will need to recruit more than 1,000 extra personnel next year. The Defence Forces needs to be made an attractive career option. One way of doing that is the full implementation of the working time directive, something the Minister has consistently dragged his heels on. Other allowances also need to be addressed along with all the other recommendations in the commission's report.

I fully welcome the increase in the overseas aid budget. It is very welcome but we need to see a roadmap for how Ireland will achieve the 0.7% GNI* by 2030. That needs to be forthcoming. Increased funding for overseas development aid is critically important especially given the worsening food crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The Minister has chosen to ignore the needs of Irish citizens in the North in terms of their ability to access passports. We need to see the creation of a passport office in the North. Unfortunately, the Minister did not cater for that in the budget.

Budget 2023 offered an opportunity to commit to an extension of our global footprint. As a neutral state, this is especially relevant for areas where there is ongoing conflict, war or oppression. That is why Sinn Féin continues to campaign for the establishment of an Irish embassy in Palestine to facilitate an increased role in conflict resolution and humanitarian support. I welcome the new missions opening in Tehran and other places mentioned but we need one in Palestine as well.


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