Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence, Jack Chambers TD has said that Budget 2019 further underscores this Government’s contentment with continuing to neglect the country’s Defence Forces.

Deputy Chambers said, “Day to day spending is projected to increase by just €8.5 million for those currently serving as members of our Defence Forces. This is actually less than the projected increase in Army Pensions which is forecast at €10 million.

“An increase of 2.1pc is the lowest allocated to a Government department in today’s Budget. Is it any wonder that Defence Force personnel feel so undervalued by the State when they see decisions like this?

“Expenditure in defence as a share of national income will fall yet again next year. Even by the standards of other neutral countries, Ireland lags way behind in this regard.

“Fine Gael had an opportunity today to pay heed to repeated calls about their treatment of those within the Defence Forces. It’s obvious from today’s announcements that the party remains in complete denial.

“We know that there are severe problems when senior staff are holding emergency meetings; when naval vessels cannot conduct routine or when the Air Corps is operating at less than 70% capacity.

“The time for denial should be over and yet sadly, Budget 2019 only indicates it’s set to continue. We will be demanding a pathway forward on how this situation will be improved by Government” he concluded.