Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Seán Crowe TD, has welcomed the results of a Red C Poll, which examined Irish people’s attitude to neutrality and any Irish involvement in the Syrian war.
The poll, commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), found that approximately 8 out of 10 Irish citizens agree that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality, which was roughly the same number of people who believe Ireland should not support war in Syria without a UN Mandate.
Speaking at the launch of the poll results, Deputy Crowe said:
“I welcome the findings of this Red C Poll and I would like to thank PANA for commissioning it.
“This poll proves that an overwhelming majority of Irish citizens agree that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality and these findings are extremely timely considering Minister Shatter’s attempts to drive Ireland away from any policy of neutrality.
“In April Minister Shatter gave an interview to the NATO Review, in which he stated that neutrality doesn’t have any major relevance today and that Irish public don’t tune into these things.
“This poll proves how out of touch the Minister and the Government are with the Irish people.
“While Minister Shatter may believe neutrality is out dated, the vast majority of Irish people disagree, especially those in the 18-35 age group. 85% of people in this group agree Ireland should have a policy of neutrality; the highest support among any age group.
“This poll also reveals a lot about Irish attitudes to the war in Syria. Sinn Féin has long held the position that lifting the EU arms embargo, or a foreign bombing campaign, wouldn’t bring peace to Syria. Only a negotiated peace settlement and process will do that, and the vast majority of Irish people agree.
“Sinn Féin also recently opposed the deployment of Irish Defence Force troops to the Golan Heights. While the mission was mandated by the UN, sending these troops to the Golan Heights is not a simple or straightforward decision, as their impartiality and neutrality is comprised because of the EU’s decision to not renew its arms embargo on Syria.
“We called a vote on the plans to send these troops to Syria on June 18 and only 7 other TDs, all independents, supported us in this vote. Yet this poll shows that 61% of Irish citizens agree with us.
“Sinn Féin is committed to promoting a policy of positive Irish neutrality. We are in favour of an independent and progressive Irish international relations policy, which opposes military alliances, and works for international co-operation and conflict negotiation, leading to democratic social change, and respect for human rights, universal demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament.
“To this end we will be making a submission to the new White Paper on Defence next month, in which we will robustly outline why Ireland should follow a policy of neutrality.
“The government needs to take heed of this poll and realise that the vast majority of Irish people want the policy of positive neutrality that Sinn Féin advocate."