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A report launched in May 2007 by Afri on the eve of the General Election, examines the dramatic changes that have taken place in Irish foreign and defence policy over the past ten years.
This period – 1997-2007 – has seen the increasing militarisation of Ireland’s foreign and defence policy. The report claims this is most starkly evidenced in the almost daily use of Shannon airport in support of the illegal United States-led wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in the inadequacy of the Government’s response to evidence that Shannon has been used as part of a US kidnapping and torture circuit. The ongoing integration of the Irish Defence Forces into non-UN military structures such as NATO’s PfP and the EU’s Battlegroups signals, the report argues, a departure from a truly internationalist and peace-promoting vision. Finally, the report documents the Government’s lack of urgency in at least regulating Ireland’s significant arms trade.
Although significant damage has been done, the report argues that it is not too late to change the course of Irish foreign and defence policy. For this to happen, the government elected by the 30th Dáil must, according to the report, carry out a number of actions, including:
• Refusing permission for any further stopover and refuelling facilities being granted to aeroplanes ferrying troops or munitions to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• Instituting a thorough regime for the inspection of aeroplanes at Irish airports to ensure that ‘extraordinary rendition’ is not being facilitated.
• Withdrawing Irish participation from all NATO/PfP and EU military operations overseas.
• Prohibiting the sale of all armaments, and related equipment, from Ireland.
The report acknowledges that these may seem like extremely radical and ambitious proposals. Certainly, Afri does not expect that all of them are likely to be completed during the lifetime of the 30th Dáil, though it sees no reason why a committed and progressive government could not make substantial strides towards their achievement. At the very least, the report concludes, a start must be made to roll back the regressive record of the past decade and more, and to begin to reassert the centrality of morality and justice as core values underpinning Irish foreign and defence policy.
The full version of ‘A DECADE OF BETRAYAL’ and other publications is available from Afri
or Download The Militarisation of Ireland’s Foreign and Defence Policy here