Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy TD, has said that he will be requesting that the Tánaiste come before the Oireachtas to provide full details of cooperation agreements with NATO and to address concerns that such arrangements are further eroding Irish neutrality.
Deputy Carthy criticised government’s failure to adequately invest in the Defence Forces or to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis that has left Ireland unable to monitor and protect our skies and seas.
Teachta Carthy said:
“It is not acceptable that members of the Oireachtas learn of significant defence and security developments through media reports. The government continues to adopt a cavalier approach, often undermining Irish neutrality, without Dáil oversight or approval.
“Many Irish people will be concerned by reports that the government has agreed a new arrangement with NATO without any oversight. Irish neutrality is our best defence, it allows Ireland to play a positive and constructive role in global affairs.
“This government, and the Tánaiste in particular, are adopting an ever broadening definition of neutrality, risking the term becoming meaningless, particularly through the intention of abolishing the triple-lock neutrality protection.
“Given that the promised national security strategy remains nowhere to be seen, four years after government committed to its development, it looks increasingly as if the Tánaiste and government are making defence and security policy decisions on the hoof.
“Successive governments have overseen a worsening crisis within the Defence Forces. They are still failing to invest adequately even to meet level of ambition two as outlined in the Commission on the Defence Forces. Each year that Micheál Martin has been in government more members are leaving the Defence Forces than joining.
“It is in this context that the reported arrangement with NATO will be adjudicated. The Tánaiste’s cavalier approach to security and our neutrality must stop.
“I will be requesting that the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence calls on the Tánaiste to attend a meeting to outline the details of all arrangements with NATO and to address concerns that such arrangements are further eroding Irish neutrality.”