Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that reports of the British navy ‘chasing off’ a Russian submarine positioned directly outside of Cork harbour represents ‘an embarrassing product of the failure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments to adequately invest in the Irish Defence Forces.
Deputy Carthy criticised the delays in ensuring that the Irish Naval Service vessels have sufficient sonar equipment.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Reports that the British navy was forced to ‘chase off’ a Russian submarine positioned directly outside of Cork Harbour represents an embarrassing product of the failure of successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments to adequately invest in the Irish Defence Forces.
“That failure continues. It is simply not good enough that Irish Naval Service vessels do not have sonar equipment. It has been long promised, but as with so many aspects of Defence Forces development progress has been painfully slow.
“The Commission on the Defence Forces set out a need for capital expenditure of €246.5 million each year over ten years in order to meet Level of Ambition 2 (LOA2).
“Last year the government missed that target by €70 million.
“In Budget 2024, they missed it again, by another €70 million.
“The lack of capacity in terms of equipment and personnel within our Defence Forces is a result of the failures of successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. It has led to the embarrassment of needing other states to inform us as to what is happening in our skies and seas, and it is an insult to the men and women of the Defence Forces.
“Sinn Féin wants to build our Defence Forces to protect Irish neutrality and sovereignty; monitor and defend our skies and seas; and safeguard our people from modern threats, including cyber and hybrid attacks.
“In our alternative budget for 2024, Sinn Féin committed to deliver the capital funding levels required to achieve LOA2 from next year – that is what is required.
“Rather than concentrating on removing the triple-lock neutrality protection, Micheál Martin and government should instead focus on building the capacity of our Defence Forces.”