Restoring our Defence Forces
Labour Party Manifesto 2020

Labour's defence policy is to renew and reinvigorate our tradition of military neutrality while continuing to support the institutions of the United Nations to promote peace and security around the world. Labour will review and implement improvements in the pay and allowances of service personnel. We will also review Ireland’s defence policy in the context of the UK leaving the EU, to ensure Ireland’s capacity to patrol its own airspace and waters effectively.

Labour will ensure all Defence Forces personnel have proper treatment in terms of pay, allowances and working conditions. Labour will review pay and allowances and implement the findings to restore pay. Labour will recognise the anomalous treatment of Defence Forces in the public pay agreement and will seek an exemption to the agreement to rectify this.

Labour will ensure trade union recognition for the Defence Forces, and allow the union to affiliate with ICTU to access the industrial relations institutions of the state. The government will be able to regulate and control the right to strike on the grounds of national security.

Labour will roll out a programme to improve and upgrade barracks throughout the country.

Labour will maintain a stand-alone Minister for Defence, with a seat in Government. Fine Gael has been unable to fulfil the role of Minister for Defence satisfactorily. Defence forces personnel and their families have suffered government neglect as a result.

Labour will implement a Commission on the Future of Defence that will include participation by Department of Defence, Defence Force Management and outside external expertise to carry out a review of how Defence should be structured, governed and managed in the 21st Century.

Labour will develop a strategy to expand the Naval Service so that it can fully patrol all our waters, for the regulation of fishing, to protect marine reserves, to improve our sub-surface detection/search capacity and to defeat drug smuggling operations.

Labour will evaluate the role of the Air Corps in protecting Irish airspace in light of Brexit by commissioning a feasibility study, with recommendations on Air Intercept/Defence Capability and a review of the agreement currently in place with the RAF. This study will include an estimate of the likely cost of such capabilities.

Labour will establish a dedicated Cybersecurity Unit within the Defence Forces that will develop technological capabilities for Cyber Defence of all operational systems and defence capabilities of the support systems (manpower,  logistics) and create the necessary conditions to attract and retain people with exceptional ICT Skills.

Labour will initiate an open debate on how to renew and reinvigorate Ireland’s tradition of military neutrality, including the future role of the Defence Forces in EU PESCO and the NATO-led Partnership for Peace.

Labour will end the use of Shannon and Irish airspace by the US military while the US is involved in any warfare that does not have UN approval.

Labour will promote greater inclusivity in the Defence Forces, including recruitment and retention of more women, members of minority communities and members of the LGBT+ community.

Labour will work with veterans to create a National Veterans’ Policy. We will support veteran organisations in their provision of accommodation to homeless and other veterans, and in the provision of advice and support to veterans. Labour will support the implementation of the Veterans’ Strategy submitted to the Department of Defence in December 2018 and the establishment of an Office for Veterans Affairs.