Government must respect people’s support for Irish neutrality – John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has called on the government to respect the commitment of the Irish people to Ireland’s long-standing policy of neutrality.
Teachta Brady said that, following a week in which the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Amárach polling group which showed that 76% of Irish people supported Irish neutrality, the Government's "beating of the war drum" of military involvement by Ireland "clearly shows the disparity between where the government wants to take the country militarily and the Irish people’s support for neutrality".
The Wicklow TD said:
“Ireland is a military neutral state, we are not aligned with any military alliance.
"This is not only an historic position; it is a position which is consistent with the wishes and the support of the Irish people for neutrality.
"An opinion poll conducted earlier this week, in the middle of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, clearly indicated that there remains an overwhelming level of support for Ireland’s position of neutrality.
"Of the 1,000 people polled by Amárach, 76% indicated that they supported Irish neutrality. A mere 15% were in favour of dropping neutrality, while a further 9% were uncommitted.
"Sinn Féin wants to have Ireland’s neutrality enshrined in the constitution following a referendum.
"The tragic events unfolding in Ukraine are horrific. And we in Ireland should be doing everything that we can to help alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people. Above all we should be leading the drive at the UN for the opening of a humanitarian corridor to provide relief and assistance to civilians.
"Under the Geneva Convention Russia has an obligation to open that corridor and is in breach of international law in not allowing critical access for NGOs to provide relief for the victims of the conflict.
"The Irish government should be using Ireland’s privileged position as a respected non-aligned nation, with a long and distinguished history of peacekeeping missions, with a seat on the UN Security Council to search for an end to the conflict.
"Instead, the government appear to be focused on utilising the tragedy of the Ukrainian people for shoddy domestic political purposes as evidenced in its attacks on Sinn Féin for our commitment to search for a diplomatic solution that could precipitate a ceasefire.
"What we are witnessing from within the ranks of the government parties is a dangerous and ill-considered attempt to start kite flying the idea of Ireland offering military assistance to Ukraine as part of an EU army.
"Defence Forces representative groups here in Ireland have stated that we are dangerously close to the point where are under resourced Defence Forces are incapable of fulfilling their current obligations to the UN.
"It is very clear that given the major challenges within the Defence Forces due to underfunding over many decades that we are dependent on other countries to provide security for us.
"Neutrality comes at a cost; the government needs to commit to funding the Defence Forces to allow them to do the job that they are qualified to do.
"I am deeply concerned at the emerging narrative from middle aged men in Leinster House who wish to send our young men and women into war.
"It is disturbing and it is not what this county needs or wants.
"Ireland has a unique position within Europe, as a non-aligned nation, without a colonial past, which is respected by states across the globe. It is very clear that the Irish people are proud of this tradition and are in favour of maintaining neutrality.
"Our focus should be on providing leadership at the UN for the non-aligned countries who have voted Ireland onto the UN Security Council. And to use our position at the UN and Europe to lead out in the search for peace, whilst providing every humanitarian assistance that we can to the Ukrainian people.”