Afri deplores Micheál Martin’s eagerness to sup with NATO, a nuclear alliance, at the recent summit in Madrid. An Taoiseach insists that it is necessary to join in such ‘conversations’ with the high and mighty, while dithering about the right moment to engage with the Irish people at last on defence policy.
This is merely the latest stage in a process of furtive acquiescence in NATO-inspired EU militarisation. It is deeply cynical to claim that the crisis of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine should postpone a vitally necessary public debate here, while exploiting it for further attacks on our policy of Neutrality.
Ireland’s early UN membership enacted our Neutrality through a commitment to nuclear disarmament, decolonisation, peaceful conflict-resolution and genuine peacekeeping. It is shameful that our governments should have then gone along with the usurpation of the UN’s authority by NATO, and allowed the covert use of Shannon for a succession of disastrous wars.
It is equally tragic that Ireland, the first neutral state to join the original EEC Six, should have failed, through a false notion of our national self-interest, to articulate the values of cooperation, peaceful conflict-resolution and international law with our EEC/EU partners. Those values, set out in Article 29 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, informed the Peace Process here, of which our leaders are justifiably proud; was that process branded ‘Not for Export’?
For years, the people of Ireland were told that nothing significant, let alone alarming, was afoot. Now overnight we are told that we are out of touch with the new reality; at least a Government is finally acknowledging the damage done by the furtive entanglements of recent decades. The head of the Institute of International and European Affairs – the ‘think-tank’ behind so many recent policy changes –recognises that the report on the Defence Forces has dealt with ‘only one dimension’ of a much wider and deeper agenda.
He sees the need ‘to nurture a national conversation about [Ireland’s] defence… a conversation which at present is only at an embryonic stage’ (Irish Times 30th June). An Taoiseach, however, seems happy to confine the talking to after-dinner chat with NATO in Madrid and rows between Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath within Cabinet.
Rushing through huge expenditures on muddled military policies, while the cost of living, housing, health, childcare etc. can mark time till September and beyond, cannot be justified. If even the IIEA doesn’t yet know what precise defence policies we should be spending more money on, it’s time the Government came clean with the people and started a real conversation.