Speaking in the Dáil debate this evening on Neutrality former Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams called on TDs to support the call for an amendment to the Constitution which would enshrine neutrality into the Constitution. It would also require that this and future governments maintain a policy of non-membership of military alliances.
Gerry Adams said: “At a time when there are clear moves toward the creation of a European Army this assertion of Irish neutrality is needed more than ever. EU leaders, including Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, have openly called for the creation of an EU army. Last December the European Parliament voted to establish a European Defence Fund. When it is established it will receive thirteen billion euro of public money towards research and development into new weapons systems.
This will include direct funding of arms programmes. This money should be invested in public services, including health and education and agriculture and to confront climate change. We must also be mindful that currently European Arms manufacturers are already selling weapons to states, including Saudi Arabia, which are using these against civilians in Yemen, and elsewhere.
Regrettably, successive Irish governments have incrementally moved to a position of supporting the security agenda of former colonial states and the great powers. The policy of allowing US troops to use Shannon is a shameful example of this. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Independent Alliance have all voted against this Bill in their time in office.
The disgraceful refusal to recognise the state of Palestine is another example. This government has no anti-colonial instinct, no sense of Ireland’s proper place in world affairs. It has committed this state to PESCO, the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which is a part of the European Union’s security and defence policy. Joining PESCO means that the Government has committed to increases in military spending and implementing a defence policy that will be aligned with NATO’s strategic aims. Instead of abandoning Neutrality we should be adopting a policy of positive neutrality, and enshrine it in the Irish Constitution.
This state should be pursuing an independent foreign policy. That means not joining any military alliances. We should refuse to condone policies or military groupings which maintain nuclear weapons and any weapons of mass destruction.
This means refusing to facilitate international conflict in any way. It means working for international cooperation and conflict negotiation, democratic social change and respect for human rights. It means working for universal demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament.
The peace process, notwithstanding the difficulties within the institutions, has enhanced our international standing. Our role in the United Nations, our status as a small state and former colony, mean that we are respected. That status is a key part of the government’s efforts to win support for a place on the UN Security Council. I would urge all TDs to support this Bill and defend our Neutrality”.