Wednesday, 18 November 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I second Senator McDowell's amendment to the Order of Business. I want to remark on the performance of the Minister, Deputy Coveney, in the Dáil yesterday. It was really heartening to hear a Minister for Defence speak about the rejuvenation of the Defence Forces, putting them front and centre and making sure they have the resources they need to drive forward. The terms of reference of the commission on the future of defence in Ireland are soon to be released and I would like a debate in the House after they are released so we can discuss them with the Minister.
Today, a save Ireland's search and rescue group, which I chair, began to issue press releases. The search and rescue contract is coming up. It will be worth more than €700 million over the ten years from 2023. Thanks to the work of the Air Corps we now have sufficient pilots and trained crews to take over part of the search and rescue operations in Ireland, particularly on the east coast. Due to the Government investment in fixed wing aircraft we now have the aircraft to provide top cover for the entire country. I was really heartened yesterday to hear the Minister, Deputy Coveney, speak about his willingness to look at how the Air Corps can merge into search and rescue operations. We also need the Minister, Deputy Ryan, on side because it is a contract of the Department of Transport. It would be a massive morale boost for the Defence Forces and, in particular, the Air Corps. We knock the Government a lot, and I will do some of that later, but today I want to recognise the Minister, Deputy Coveney, and congratulate him on the huge work he is doing on defence. I hope it delivers what he expects and what I expect.