Comments by President Higgins on Neutrality Debate Welcome – John Brady TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, has welcomed comments by President Michael D. Higgins calling for an informed and respectful debate on Irish neutrality.
The Wicklow TD said:
“I welcome the comments by President Michael D. Higgins calling for an informed and respectful debate on Irish neutrality, indeed I would like to echo the President’s comments. I also believe that the starting point for a respectful and informed debate, would be to acknowledge the fact that the overwhelming majority of Irish people are in full support of Irish neutrality.
“I believe that the policy of neutrality should be enshrined in the constitution following a referendum of the Irish people. Sinn Féin has twice previously attempted to introduce legislation to this effect, only to be blocked by the government.
“The reality is that the interests of the Irish people are not served through entering a military alliance. More than that, this island, with its proud tradition of resistance to colonial exploitation, a tradition from which the policy of neutrality bore forth, has earned a stellar reputation as a force for peace keeping and diplomacy.
“A policy of active neutrality has the potential to sit on the foundations of the peace keeping roles undertaken by our defence forces, of the humanitarian work or our NGOs, and the diplomatic reach of the state. It has the potential to make a real and meaningful contribution to peace building efforts across the globe.
“Whereas entering a military alliance would not only subsume our defence forces into a much larger force acting upon the strategic direction of military superpowers, where Ireland’s impact would be negligible, but would also seriously damage the extent of the ‘soft power’ that Ireland enjoys today.
“It is my hope that an honest, open, and respectful discourse on neutrality will instead strengthen our nation’s stance on neutrality, and provide a clear sense of direction and purpose for Ireland’s enterprise on the international stage in the years ahead.”