Ireland, a land of myths, legends, and a captivating history, now finds itself at a crossroads in its journey towards solid national security. Despite promises of investments in the 2024 Budget, many doubt they are sufficient to address emerging challenges.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee announced a budget of €3.5 billion, an impressive figure. But as often happens, money cannot buy solutions to deep-rooted problems. In collaboration with Tánaiste Micheal Martin, also responsible for Defense and Foreign Affairs, ambitious plans have been outlined for the coming year: the goal is to recruit 1,400 new security agents.
While the Defense Department aims to hire 400 new members among the various armed forces, Minister McEntee plans to add up to 1,000 new police officers. These figures reflect a disturbing reality: Ireland urgently needs to strengthen its security forces.
The Irish Defense Forces, currently composed of 7,700 members, are going through a tough period. A recent cocaine seizure, valued at €500 million, highlighted system deficiencies: with six ships available, only one was actually used due to a lack of personnel.
Controversy in Ireland over insufficient resources
Industry insiders argue that an operation of this magnitude would have required at least two ships. But with a personnel shortage, Ireland had to make do with available resources.
The Irish national police, An Garda Siochana, is facing similar challenges. Despite a contingent of nearly 14,000 officers, visibility in the field is declining. Many officers have been reassigned to specialized units, reducing presence on the ground. And, worryingly, more and more officers are leaving the force, with a significant increase in resignations in recent years.
Morale is low, and many cite stress, long working hours, and increasing bureaucracy as the main reasons for their dissatisfaction. This discontent is not limited to the police: even in the Defense Forces, the dropout rate is increasing.
The government tried to respond with an increase in the overtime budget, but many believe it is not enough. And while €26 million may seem like a generous sum, it should be noted that just a few months ago, an additional €10 million was allocated just for the capital, Dublin.
The issue goes beyond mere salary. Ireland must address the root causes of these challenges and find sustainable solutions. The eyes of the citizens are on the government, hoping for timely and effective interventions. If concrete measures are not taken, the atmosphere could become tense, with possible controversies and protests. Ireland deserves a solid and motivated security force, and the time to act is now.