Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, has expressed concern over emerging reports that Ireland is one of fourteen EU countries behind a proposal to develop a rapid military response force, that could be employed by the EU to intervene in international trouble spots.
Teachta Brady said:
“Ireland has been and remains a neutral country, irrespective of the attempts of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael attempts to erode our neutral status over the last number of decades.
“Emboldened by the departure of Britain from the EU, the idea of an EU army, which has existed as a spectre in the background of EU affairs, is being allowed to re-emerge over two decades after it was first suggested.
“Although there is currently a 1,500 strong EU battle group, this has yet to be deployed. The current proposals would see that expanded to a 5,000 strong contingent, with air, sea, and land capability.”We need to be clear about what Minister Coveney and this government would have Ireland sign up to.
“When EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell states that Europe needs to learn the ‘language of power’, he is in reality talking about a coalition of former colonial powers, whose legacy forms the basis of much of the conflict in the developing world.
“For Ireland to willingly allow our Defence Forces, with their proud and unblemished record of service on UN peace missions, to become an instrument of force for twenty-first century colonialism defies belief.
“It is a betrayal of the principle of neutrality; a principle that has served our country well; a principle that has allowed our country to make a tangible and meaningful contribution to international affairs.
“Minister Coveney is spending millions of Euros in attempts to standardise Irish military equipment with that of his would-be NATO allies, yet the strength of our Defence Forces is being allowed to steadily diminish.
“Ireland must remain neutral. We need to invest first and foremost in the women and men that serve our country. We need to give them a liveable wage, we must billet them in decent conditions, we must give them contracts of service that allow their continued service.
“I believe Ireland has a significant role to play in international affairs, I believe that our Defence Forces, along with our NGOs, and our diplomatic service are essential to that role, through the continuing development of the ‘soft power’ that allows Ireland hit to above its weight on the global stage.
“Ireland as a part of an EU army has a limited role, but as a neutral, militarily non-aligned country, we have the potential to perform a vital function in international affairs.
“I believe that Ireland, through a committed strategy of active neutrality has the capacity to become an instigator of peace.
“The government would do well to remember that Ireland owes its position on the UN Security Council to the votes of developing nations throughout the world, who wish to see the emergence of an honest broker, an advocate of peace and justice on the world stage.”