NATO out of Neutral Ireland

Afri board member, John Maguire, activist Ciaron O'Reilly and Afri Co-ordinator, Joe Murray at a protest action during the Easter weekend
Afri board member, John Maguire, activist Ciaron O’Reilly and Afri Co-ordinator, Joe Murray at a protest action during the Easter weekend

The 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising was commemorated in a number of state events around Easter time and beyond. While it is very important to commemorate the first steps towards Irish independence it is regrettable that such emphasis was placed on the military hardware of the NATO-linked Irish Army today, as distinct from the ideals of the Proclamation, for example. One of the most bizarre events was the presence of a fleet of NATO Warships in Dublin Port over the Easter weekend. As we commemorated the sacking of Dublin City Centre by British warships 100 years earlier, the irony of a British warship among the other NATO vessels seemed to be lost on the Government as well as those queuing to go aboard. It was a striking illustration, nonetheless, of the degree to which Ireland has now abandoned neutrality and locked arms with the former colonial powers and their military escapades and ambitions. Hearing about this at the last minute, Afri organised a small picket and we were joined by anti-war activist Ciaron O’ Reilly who addressed the assembled audience!  Here’s a short film of him speaking at this event below (film by Redjade Magyarországon).

Putting an End to Militarism

Resistance is GrowingStatement from the Triennial Conference of the International Peace Bureau

September 13th – 15th 2013, Stockholm , Sweden

“The World is Over-armed and Peace is Under-funded”

– Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

There was a new hope expressed at the IPB Triennial Conference, welcoming the agreement between Russia and the USA on chemical weapons in Syria. Hopefully this will lead to negotiations to put an end to the terrible civil war.

The forming of international coalitions for military intervention is now much more difficult as public opinion against war has become so strong. People are weary of war and the deceit and rhetoric that go with it. They are suspicious of double speak and are tired of ‘humanitarian’ statements which end with actions that simply generate more human suffering. Continue reading “Putting an End to Militarism”

Afri and the Lisbon Treaty

Justice and peace organization Action from Ireland (Afri) called for a NO vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Afri argues that the Treaty further militarises the EU and that it would have a negative impact on developing countries.

Afri has particularly highlighted the Treaty’s provisions for ‘permanent structured cooperation’ (PSC), which mean that sub-sets of EU countries can pursue their military agendas under the EU banner. Afri chairperson Andy Storey commented as follows on the PSC provisions: “Consider the case of Afghanistan, where a number of EU states currently operate under the NATO banner. If PSC had been available it is quite conceivable that it would have been invoked to establish a specifically EU presence in that country. And if that had occurred, then the German commander who recently called down an airstrike that slaughtered untold numbers of Afghan civilians would have been representing the EU. In other words, he would have been representing us. The prospect of an EU force representing all EU citizens, including Irish people, murdering civilians in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ is one that should worry us all.”

The Treaty, Afri points out, says that ‘a more assertive union EU military role … will contribute to the vitality of a renewed NATO.’ “This is the same NATO, a nuclear-armed military alliance, that is bombing civilians in Afghanistan: do we really want to contribute to its renewed vitality?” asked Mr Storey

Mr Storey also pointed out that, under Lisbon, the range of tasks that EU forces may perform is extended. EU forces, post-Lisbon, may be deployed on: ‘military advice and assistance tasks…, including… supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories’. But, according to Mr Storey, “claiming to be assisting a third country government to combat terrorism through the provision of military advice and assistance could realistically mean autocratic rulers being facilitated to suppress opposition; French troops, for example, have routinely performed this function for their client regimes in Chad, Rwanda and other African countries.” The Treaty encourages countries to spend more on the military – at a time when the global military budget in 2008 was already an obscene $1,400 billion.

In terms of developing countries, the Treaty commits the EU ‘to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investment, and the lowering of customs and other barriers’. Mr Storey noted that “these free market policies are what got large parts of the world into our present economic mess to begin with, and the EU is seeking to lock countries into these policies and deny them the right to pursue alternative policies.” Elsewhere, the Treaty says that ‘all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited’ so a poor country could not try to deal with a financial crisis by imposing capital controls (as Malaysia did successfully in the late 1990s) without facing EU sanction. “At a time when the damage done by the unregulated movement of capital is apparent to everyone, the EU wants to give that free movement the status of holy writ” Mr Storey argued.

A Decade of Betrayal

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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. Continue reading “A Decade of Betrayal”