Inside Politics: Triple lock thunderbolt unleashes political backlash

Opposition unites to condemn Government plans to remove triple lock mechanism

Expect to hear a lot more about this story today and in the coming weeks: Tánaiste Micheal Martin has announced plans to scrap the triple lock mechanism which prevents Ireland deploying troops overseas without UN approval.

Under the triple lock system, 12 or more Defence Forces troops cannot be deployed on an active overseas mission without approval from the Dáil, the Government and a mandate or authorisation from UN.

The Tánaiste says he wants to be able to respond to crises without waiting for approval from the UN Security Council, which has not authorised a new peacekeeping mission since 2014. Sinn Féin’s response has been swift. Foreign affairs spokesman Matt Carthy said it represents a “fundamental shift in Ireland’s foreign policy” which could “radically undermine Irish neutrality”.

The move was also condemned by Labour, People Before Profit and Aontú.


Conor Gallagher has a fascinating analysis on the triple lock here. He says that “in moving to abolish the triple lock, the Government contends the mechanism grants powers such as Russia and China the power to dictate where Ireland can send its troops. In effect, it’s a surrendering of sovereignty over foreign policy to the great powers, making Ireland not so much neutral as neutralised.”

Anxious wait for families of Gaza hostages

All eyes are on Israel and Palestine again today as dozens of families continue to wait for the release of up to 50 hostages taken by Hamas, many of them women and children, and the start of a long-called-for ceasefire to allow in desperately needed humanitarian aid. This lead story from The Irish Times this morning, however, dampens expectations that there will be significant movement today.

Mark Weiss reports that late last night, Israel’s national security adviser said the initial release of hostages under the temporary truce agreement with Gaza’s Hamas rulers will not happen before tomorrow, Friday. Such a delay would be significant, especially after the plan to release some hostages today was so widely briefed.

Along with relatives of other children held hostage in Gaza the family of Israeli-Irish national Emily Hand (9) are waiting anxiously to find out if she will be released in the coming hours.

Israel and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to a ceasefire in Gaza for at least four days, to let in aid and release at least 50 hostages captured by militants in exchange for at least 150 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

Coalition sources were keeping tight-lipped when asked whether they had received clarity around whether Emily Hand was high up on a potential list of hostages due to be released. Instead, they said they are using every available channel and contact to continue to press for her to be freed.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government hopes Ms Hand will be among the hostages released. Her father Thomas Hand said he had received no information about whether his daughter would be among the initial group.

Separately, here is The Irish Times view on the ceasefire in Gaza: a crucial window of opportunity.

You can follow today for updates. If you like your news via WhatsApp, we have a new channel - The Irish Times WhatsApp channel - for breaking news straight to your phone.

Economic storm clouds: an early election?

Will there be a spring election in 2024? The odds are shifting ever so slightly, as Cliff Taylor explains to Pat Leahy and yours truly in this week’s Inside Politics mid-week podcast. Taylor points out that the Irish economy is slowing and tax revenues are under pressure. Could a dampening economic outlook dim voters’ thirst for change? Listen here.

Will economic trouble mean an early election?

Listen | 38:52
"With economic signals flashing amber, the next Irish general election might be sooner than we thought", argues Cliff Taylor in an analysis piece for The Irish Times. But does Cliff's economic reasoning survive contact with political logic? Jennifer Bray and Pat Leahy let him know.Plus: Senator Malcolm Byrne is warning about the role AI technology and deepfakes could play in the next general election. What are the issues and how could they be tackled? And Jennifer has the details of how an Oireachtas committee has agreed our abortion laws should be changed to remove barriers to women accessing abortions in certain circumstances. The ball is now in the Government's court.

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Dáil Éireann

Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney will take questions at 9am, followed by questions to Minister for Finance Michael McGrath.

Leaders’ Questions are up at noon followed by questions on policy or legislation.

Before 2pm, the Dáil will debate the Social Welfare Bill 2023, and at 6.30pm the Topical Issues slot is up. Then the Joint Committee on Finance’s 2022 report into the banking sector will be discussed before the Dáil adjourns after 8.30pm.


A relatively quiet day lies ahead for committee members.

At 10am, the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement will hold a discussion on the all-island economy with representatives from the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

At 1.30pm, the Select Committee on Housing will examine the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023 with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. This Bill will increase the total number of Members of Dáil Éireann to be 174 and the number of constituencies to 43 following the recommendations of a recent constituency review report.

At the same time, the Select Committee on Finance will discuss the funding of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with Minister of State in the Department of Taoiseach Hildegarde Naughton.

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