Military neutrality in a changing world

A freeloading policy

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – I agree with Brendan Butler (Letters, May 28th) “that our traditional stance of military neutrality is a sustainable value in today’s world”. However, that will only work if we are able to police our own skies and seas. It is essential that we are strong and neutral.

At present we do not have the personnel or equipment to monitor or prevent unwelcome overflights or “visitors” to our coastal waters.

Ireland, on Europe’s western flank is in a critical strategic position, and must not be seen as an open back door for unfriendly nations. – Yours, etc,

MIKE CORMACK,

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Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Two other European countries have a stated policy of neutrality: Austria (a fellow EU member) and Switzerland

But unlike Ireland’s policy, they actively seek to deter invasion by funding their defence forces to the extent that they offer an unpleasant and viable deterrent to any invader who wishes to cross their borders.

Ireland’s “policy” on neutrality is a freeloading policy which leaves Ireland’s lands, seas and underwater cable network incapable of being defended against a flotilla of rubber ducks, never mind against serious foreign aggression, and is a serious stain on the record of Irish governments.

A disgrace, in fact.

Ireland is completely reliant on Nato for its defence. The Government’s stance on defending the State, or rather, not defending the State, is a book-keeper-led stance.

“Since wars start in the minds of men‚ it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed”, Archibald MacLeish wrote, as quoted by a letter writer (May 28th).

But sadly, often the minds of men inclined to war need to be reminded vigorously that the cost of war is far greater than the cost of peace.

Thus, the need to have a capable and robust defence force, even if we are “neutral”. – Yours, etc,

DAVID DORAN,

Bagenalstown,

Co Carlow.

Sir, – We are facing into imminent elections, local, European and mayoral.

Of the many issues that will be aired, from immigration to housing and healthcare to the cost of living, there is one which I feel will be ignored or overlooked by most parties.

This issue, however, is more relevant and pressing than any other in the past half century and cannot be swept aside.

Ireland, a modern, educated and very much “first world” nation, has benefited greatly from membership of the EU for many, many years, without much sacrifice in return.

Europe, the EU, and Nato now face the most serious threat to their stability since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

We are not disinterested bystanders in this situation; our territorial integrity is obviously at risk from hostile agents. Our underseas conduits for information, our cyber vulnerabilities and our ability to monitor our own airspace present clear and existential risks to us as a nation.

The time has come for a realistic, 21st-century evaluation of what we receive and what we can contribute to our friends and co-members of the EU, not to mention Ukraine.

Please reflect, without historical prejudice and with an even-minded approach, on what neutrality really means in this context and how it can be modified to reflect the facts of life in 2024. – Yours, etc,

TIM O’CONNELL,

Balinteer,

Dublin 16.