Defence White Paper must enshrine Irish neutrality – Mac Lochlainn
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that this opportunity to revisit our approach to our Defence Forces should be availed of to commence the process of enshrining neutrality into our constitution and also address ongoing issues such as the problems presented by government reforms of the brigade structures, and the use of Lariam by the Defence Forces.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“I broadly welcome a review of Ireland’s Defence policy and a white paper on the issue. The last White Paper on Defence was released in 2000. It is a chance to outline exactly how we would like a modern, efficient, and professional Defence Force to stand by the long held Irish desire for neutrality and independence, as Sinn Féin did in our submission to the White Paper.
“I fear that this Government will use it to do the opposite, as well have seen successive Governments repeatedly undermine Ireland’s neutrality and attack the pay and entitlements of Defence Forces personnel.
“Other problems remain in the Defence Forces. The change from a three brigade to a two brigade structure and the closure of barracks across the state has sapped the morale of the Defence Forces. However it hasn't just been the closures, it has been the entire process, the stress and strain put on personnel who often had to uproot from their communities and homes with their families to be placed somewhere else.
“Sinn Féin is opposed to the use of the anti-malarial drug, Lariam. Many serving and former soldiers who have been prescribed Lariam have experienced adverse psychological effects and experienced a serious negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
“In these volatile times, a strong commitment to Positive Neutrality in this White Paper is needed more than ever. It should not act as another Fine Gael ‘Beyond Neutrality’ document.
“Sinn Féin is committed to promoting positive Irish neutrality and independent foreign policy.
“We believe Ireland should actively work to promote conflict resolution, peaceful democratic settlements and self-determination throughout the world.”