Cllr. Éilis Ryan (WP)

Cllr. Éilis Ryan

The government received advice from senior officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in March 2017 that raising its defense expenditure to 2%, as required under the EU’s PESCO military pact, would be a significant financial risk to the state.

This is according to documents obtained by the Workers’ Party last week through a Freedom of Information request.

Speaking on the information, Cllr. Éilis Ryan of the Workers’ Party said:
“I specifically sought out information from DPER in relation to PESCO’s 2% expenditure requirement, because it seemed like such an ill-advised financial commitment for the state to make.

“I was not surprised to discover that a senior DPER official advised the government, in March 2017, that the commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence each year, as per the PESCO deal, posed a significant threat to the state’s finances. The official advised clearly that, in the absence of new funding becoming available, Ireland should not commit to such financial measures.”

Cllr. Ryan continued:
“Of course Ireland has since signed up to PESCO – the latest in a series of EU deal’s to expand common military and defence practices. But as well as the clear implications this has for Ireland’s status as a neutral country, it also raises questions regarding the financial priorities of government.

“DPER must receive a cost-benefit analysis of every major housing project proposed by a local authority in Ireland. This is a slow and cumbersome process, but government insists that it be followed rigidly, in spite of the housing crisis. But meanwhile, the same government is happy to flout cost-benefit advice from DPER when it suits it, in the interests of keeping our EU overlords happy.”

Cllr. Ryan called for a full enquiry into the decision-making at government level surrounding joining PESCO stating:
“In the full set of documents which I received in relation to my Freedom of Information request, a large number were almost entirely redacted. The decision to join PESCO was one which will hold grave consequences for Ireland for generations. Why we signed up to the deal remains unclear and murky.

“I am calling for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee of Inquiry to investigate how precisely this decision was made – the advice of officials across various departments, and lobbying to government by outside bodies on the matter.”