An umbrella group of politicians, parties and peace groups has vowed to oppose moves by Irish governments that use “any international conflict to reject neutrality”, amid what it claims is a slow creep towards militarisation.
The Irish Neutrality Group was launched in Dublin on Wednesday, publishing a statement of its aims to promote “the protection and strengthening of Ireland’s neutrality”.
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance, the Irish Anti-War Movement, politicians and academics were among the 50 signatures on the statement so far, with invitations to be extended for others to sign up.
Deputy Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Galway TD Catherine Connolly, said Ireland’s neutrality was “without a doubt, under threat”.
She raised concerns about what she said were moves towards Irish militarisation, based on responses by the Taoiseach and other senior members of Government in recent months.
The use of Shannon Airport by the US military as a stop off and the EU’s Strategic Compass strategy were highlighted, with Ms Connolly calling the latter “extremely concerning”.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said in the Dáil, in response to a question from Ms Connolly, that he would need to see the wording before signing up to the league’s statement due to the neutrality provision enshrined in Ireland’s Constitution.
“I don’t disagree with the sentiment or the intention, but I’d be very slow to sign,” he said.
Senator Alice Mary Higgins said it was a civil society campaign, as well as a campaign for Oireachtas members.
“What I think is really important is that it’s giving an opportunity for expression for the public, whose only opportunity for expression has been in polls that are taken and consistently show the support,” she said.
People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett said every signatory of the statement “condemns the barbaric invasion by Vladimir Putin of Ukraine”, adding there is “no equivocation” on that point.
“But we do not believe that this terrible and scary situation in Ukraine should be used to justify completely abandoning Ireland’s neutrality.”
Jim Roche, public relations officer of the Irish Anti-War Movement, said the group would not oppose deploying Irish troops on peacekeeping missions to areas such as Lebanon, but said the suggestion that Irish troops would carry out training for soldiers in Ukraine is concerning.