Minister must explain why monies from Defence Budget returned to Exchequer
- €56 million of the Defence budget was returned to the Exchequer between 2017 and 2020
- €130 million has been returned to the State from the Defence budget over the past 7 years
- Labour Senator Mark Wall has called on Minister to come before Seanad
Speaking in the Seanad, Labour defence spokesperson Senator Mark Wall asked that the Minister for Defence come before the House in the context of ongoing issues in the Defence Forces. In questioning the Minister for Finance, it was revealed that €56 million of the Defence budget was returned to the Exchequer between 2017 and 2020. Over €130 million has been returned to the State from the defence budget over the past 7 years. Senator Wall questioned the reasons for this, calling on the Minister to provide a rationale for this.
Senator Wall said:
“These are astonishing figures given the recruitment and retention crisis, the lack of suitable barrack accommodation, the reduction in operational capacity and the failure to backdate increased allowances to members of the elite Army ranger wing, some of whom we understand are owed up to €40,000. PDFORRA and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, have highlighted it for years, yet significant sums of money have been returned to the Exchequer and the problems in the Defence Forces go unchecked.
“Given that submissions to the public consultation of the Commission on the Defence Forces will close on 5 March, I ask the Minister for Defence to come before us to discuss a widespread and somewhat worrying state of affairs in the Defence Forces at this time.
“The time has come to examine how we allocate money to Defence, including allocating money to cover salaries, training costs and military preparedness, including equipment, and to put an urgent end to the practice of returning money from the defence budget to the Exchequer. The Commission is tasked with looking into the recruitment and retention problems in the Defence Forces. I respectfully ask it to begin by undertaking an urgent investigation into these figures, which are worrying to say the least.”