The Tánaiste and Minister for Defense Micheál Martin said that Ireland “is not relying on anybody to patrol our airspace”, reports RTE.
Mr Martin said there had been media reports this week that an air defence deal with the UK government had been “inaccurate in terms of interdiction” for a long time but had gone no further, adding that there were “national security issues”.
Mr Martin said there was no question that Ireland’s military capability was limited and that the Government was focusing on improving it over time.
He was answering questions from journalists about Ireland’s military capabilities ahead of today’s PDFORRA conference.
The minister said Ireland was aware of its “deficiencies” and “we don’t have sufficient radar right now”, reports RTE.
He said the government was committed to upgrading its capabilities, as recommended by the Defense Forces Report Commission last year, and had made decisions to “significantly increase investment in capital” in the Defence Forces.
“We’ve made a commitment to get to Level 2 ambition as detailed in that report and that’s what we are doing. We are investing in that now, and the focus is on the procurement now of radar and all the necessary ships and capacity on the equipment side,” he said, reports RTE.
But, the Tánaiste said it would be “a number of years” before this would happen.
“We don’t have a specific time frame, that is now subject to procurement. We know we have quite a lot of procurement underway already in respect of vessels and also in terms of aircraft capability,” he said, reports RTE.
Regarding the presence of Russian ships in Irish waters, the Tánaiste said that Ireland has “full capacity to identify where ships are” and that is monitored.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that all of Ireland’s air defense arrangements “are consistent with our foreign, defence and security policy”, reports RTE.
Mr Varadkar noted that he could only make limited statements on national security.
Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said the agreement was “a scandalous exposure of the failure of successive governments”, adding that it was never given a “Dáil debate, never mind Dáil approval”, reports RTE.
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