Oireachtas Delegation to address Ukrainian Parliament: Manufacturing Consent?

On 29th January 2019 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which he can ensure and guarantee neutrality in view of recent signals from the EU that security and military union is the preferred next stage of European integration. [48436/18]

Simon Coveney responded:

“Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality is characterised by our non-participation in any military alliance. Our position as a member of the European Union in no way undermines or threatens this policy, a policy to which this Government remains fully committed……. “

“The Constitution provides a further safeguard on this issue where Article 29(4)(9) states, “ The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State “…..”

“Ireland’s military neutrality is a core element of Ireland’s foreign policy….. It brings with it a deep commitment to international peace and security which we work to achieve through our efforts in peacekeeping, conflict-prevention and support for human rights…..”

Fast forward to 3rd May 2022 and the Oireachtas report that the Ceann Comhairle Seán O’Fearghail TD and the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Senator Mark Daly have accepted an invitation from the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament to travel to Kyiv and address the Ukrainian Parliament.

They will join parliamentarians from one other country and representatives from an international organisation on the trip which is expected to take place early next week.

The Ceann Comhairle stated:

“…This mission is an opportunity for Ireland to demonstrate its support for the Ukrainian people, its government and its parliament Verkhovna Rada….”

The Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Senator Daly said:

“…As an EU member country, it’s crucial that Ireland plays a visible and vocal part in demonstrating EU support for Ukraine and for Ireland’s support Ukraine’s membership of the EU”.

CRUCIAL THAT IRELAND PLAYS A VISIBLE AND VOCAL PART IN DEMONSTRATING EU SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE?

Whatever happened to Simon Coveney’s assurance that Ireland’s membership of the European Union in no way undermines or threatens the policy of neutrality, a policy to which this Government remains fully committed?

It is interesting that the language used by Senator Daly is couched in terms suggestive that the People of Ireland are fully supportive of a ‘visible and vocal’ demonstration of support of the EU Common Defence policy in Ukraine.

But the People of Ireland have not been asked. A Referendum will be required under Article 29 (4)(9) of the Irish Constitution for Ireland to join the EU Common Defence Policy.

An Irish Times/Ipsos poll published on 15th April 2022 found that there is overwhelming support for the retention of Ireland’s current model of military neutrality. Two-thirds of voters do not want to see any change in neutrality, with less than a quarter (24 per cent) in favour of a change.

What authority do the Ceann Comhairle Seán O’Fearghail TD and Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Senator Mark Daly have to state that Ireland supports the EU when they address the Ukrainian Parliament?

After all, Simon Coveney stated on public record in 2019 that Ireland’s membership of the EU in no way undermines our commitment to neutrality.

How can they therefore state on public record that Ireland support the EU and its Common Defence policy in Ukraine without firstly holding a People’s Referendum?

Article 29.4° of our Irish Constitution states that ‘Ireland affirms its commitment to the European Union within which the member states of that Union work together to PROMOTE PEACE, shared values and the well-being of their peoples’.

On 13th April it was reported that the EU approved another €500 million ($543 million) of military aid for Ukraine. The new funds bring total EU aid for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion).

PROMOTING PEACE?

Irish political representatives going to a foreign parliament during a war, is endorsement of one side in a conflict. This is not neutrality.

If the State were interested in “peace” then the demands would surely be for an end to EU involvement in the war, through direct funding of billions and the supply of armaments?

EU COMMON DEFENCE POLICY

The EU Council recently approved the Strategic Compass which they define as an ‘ambitious plan of action for strengthening the EU’s security and defence policy by 2030’.

Under the plan of action, the EU will, amongst other things, establish an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops, conduct regular live exercises on land and at sea, enhance military mobility and reinforce the EU’s civilian and military Common Defence and Security Policy missions and operations.

To realise the Strategic Compass it is stated that Member States have ‘ committed to substantially enhance their defence expenditures to match our collective ambition to reduce critical military and civilian capability gaps and strengthen our European Defence Technological and Industrial Base’.

IRISH NEUTRALITY POLICY

The People of Ireland have not yet had their say in a Referendum on ditching Ireland’s neutrality policy and joining an EU Common Defence Policy.

The recent polls suggest that the People will vote against such an amendment to the Irish Constitution.

The people of Ireland do NOT consent to Ireland joining an EU Common Defence Policy by proxy.

The people of Ireland demand that they have a say in a Referendum on a EU Common Defence Policy which will have significant ramifications for future generations.

Any suggestion by the State or mass media outlets that Ireland supports the EU and its Common Defence Policy in the Ukraine, in the absence of a Referendum, can only be described as manufacturing consent.

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