Government running scared of allowing people to have a say on Irish neutrality – Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Speaking ahead of today’s debate on Irish Neutrality, Sinn Féin Defence Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said the government should explain why they are running scared of allowing people the opportunity to vote in a constitutional referendum that would enhance Ireland’s neutral status.
The Dublin South Central TD was speaking ahead of the Second Stage debate in the Dáil on a Bill titled the “35th Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill 2016” which he has jointly tabled with his party colleague Seán Crowe.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said;
“It is the view of Sinn Féin that Ireland’s neutrality should be cherished, protected and enhanced and”, said Deputy Ó Snodaigh, “ by passing this Bill we can reaffirm our commitment to a different type of international politics focused on peace, justice, equality and human rights.
“Despite the importance Irish people attach to our neutrality, nowhere is it allowed for in our Constitution. This was made clear by Mr Justice Kearns in the 2003 High Court case of Horgan v An Taoiseach when he said that despite the great historic value attached by Ireland to the concept of neutrality, that status is nowhere reflected in Bunreacht ná hEireann, or elsewhere in any domestic legislation.
“His comments expose the falsehoods of both the government and Fianna Fáil who justify the rejection of this bill on the grounds that the constitution already enshrines neutrality. Nowhere in Bunreacht ná Eireann is neutrality mentioned and it is effectively a matter of Government policy how our neutral status is interpreted.
“This is why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been able to pursue policies that have allowed Shannon Airport to be used as a base for the US military, fully participate in EU Battlegroups and sleepwalk into being part of a fully integrated European Army.
“The Taoiseach’s refusal this week to accede to a request by Ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath and John Halligan that a free vote be allowed on this Bill shows they are running scared of allowing our citizens to vote on a referendum that would enshrine our neutrality in Bunreacht ná hEireann.
“Deputies Ross, McGrath and Halligan now have an opportunity to make a stand on this vitally important matter. By supporting our Bill they will have remained true to their past commitment that included supporting this very same Bill when it was last tabled in 2015.
“To do anything less will have discredited them greatly and will show that they are prepared to capitulate to the government on even the most ethical issues.”