Ní Riada 'appalled' by Hayes' neutrality comments
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said Ireland must defend its policy of neutrality.
Ms Ní Riada was speaking after Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes told Europarl Radio that Ireland needed to reexamine its stance on neutrality.
“I am utterly appalled at Mr Hayes' almost blasé approach to our long standing policy of neutrality,” she said.
“I also find his notion that Brexit is the reason we should reexamine Irish neutrality to be nothing short of bizarre. I do not see how the two relate.
“This is not the first time he has made such comments and in the past his party has voted in the European Parliament for actions contrary to Ireland's neutral position.
“Neutrality has been a key part of Irish foreign policy for almost 90 years. It's the reason our soldiers are able to go into some of the most conflict-torn regions of the world and be seen as Peacekeepers, not an occupying army. It's the reason our Naval vessels spend their time rescuing people who are fleeing war and persecution rather than bombing cities and carrying nuclear weapons.
“If there was any doubt before there can be none now that rather than opposing the creeping militarisation of the EU, Fine Gael is firmly behind it. In making this statement to EuroParl radio Mr Hayes was directing his comments at the militarists within the EU.
“I also find it suspect that he is making these comments in the same week as one of our flagship Naval vessels attends the biggest arms fair in the world in London.
“Irish Defence Forces have an international reputation as Peacekeepers and humanitarians. We cannot let Fine Gael sell that as cheaply as they have sought to sell off other priceless state assets.
“He may talk of cyberterrorism and religious extremism but make no mistake, this is the thin end of the wedge. The end goal of this project is for the formation of an EU army and superstate.
“Are we willing to let our sons and daughters be shipped off to die in futile wars? Are we willing to lose our nation's soul by getting involved in the daily atrocities of the Middle East? How far are Fine Gael willing to go to be the 'good boys' of Europe?”