Ireland’s ‘triple lock’ policy for deploying the Defence Forces overseas will be examined and debated at this summer’s National Consultative Forum on Ireland’s security policy.
Under the system any major Irish deployment abroad for peacekeeping or European Union missions requires the approval of the Government and the Dáil and the backing of a United Nations resolution.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheál Martin confirmed the issue will form part of the deliberations of the four-day forum in Dublin, Cork and Galway in June.
It will be chaired by Prof Louise Richardson, the former vice chancellor of the University of Oxford.
Mr Martin said that new threats would be discussed, such as cyber security, hybrid warfare and the risks posed to critical infrastructure.
Ultimately a report on the forum’s deliberations could be used to inform any future recommendations to Government on Ireland’s international security policy.
Mr Martin said that issues relating to the triple lock mechanism would also be reviewed.
He said: “We will allow for submissions so that people can make their particular viewpoints known.”
Fine Gael want an end to the triple lock, raising concern over the ability of countries like Russia – a permanent member of the UN Security Council – to effectively veto potential Defence Forces missions.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reiterated his party’s view that the triple lock should go when he was asked if he hopes the public forum will lead to a recommendation to drop it. However, he stressed that this is not the Government’s position.
The Green Party has been supportive of the triple lock staying in place, with leader Eamon Ryan previously saying it “supports our country well”.
The issue of the triple lock will arise in the coming months with the Cabinet approval of a proposal to send a naval vessel to take part in the EU’s Operation Irini mission in the Mediterranean. The operation is aimed at preventing arms trafficking into Libya.
The LÉ William Butler Yeats has been selected to go but the deployment depends on the EU mission getting a renewed UN mandate in June.
Opposition parties have criticised Government plans for the consultative forum, with Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy claiming it is a “blatant attempt to undermine Irish neutrality” and People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy saying it is a “set up” to get rid of neutrality.
Mr Varadkar responded saying there are new threats to Ireland’s security and “there’s absolutely no way that we ... can protect ourselves on our own”. He said there would have to be co-operation with the EU and Nato, which has already been happening. However, he stressed the forum “is not going to result in Ireland making an application for Nato membership”.