Majority of Greens support changes to Ireland’s triple lock but it has led to ‘tensions’ in the party

Under the policy change, the Green Party believes the triple lock should remain for any multilateral overseas military operation that requires peace enforcement

A large majority of Green TDs have backed Government plans to amend the triple lock governing the deployment of Irish troops overseas, but the announcement has led to “tensions” in the party.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin announced on Wednesday that he intends to scrap the current triple lock mechanism, which requires the approval of three bodies – the UN Security Council; the Government; and the Dáil – before members of the Defence Forces can join an international peacekeeping mission.

Due to the continuing deadlock among permanent members of the Security Council, there has not been a UN-mandated mission since 2014.

Opposition parties have all portrayed the proposed change as part of a larger agenda by the Government to diminish Ireland’s long-standing policy of military neutrality, with some claiming it forms part of a political goal of Ireland joining Nato. However, those claims have been strenuously denied by the Government.


Given its own history of supporting military neutrality, there has been much focus on how the smallest of the three Coalition parties, the Greens, would respond to this announcement.

Its only public representative to condemn the move was the Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan (who is currently suspended from the parliamentary party). In a tweet, Ms Hourigan wrote that the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy (held during the summer to discuss Ireland’s foreign and security policies) was “only ever about removing the triple lock”.

“Big U-turn on the Programme for Government...This would be a very drastic change! The Government could then deploy troops to any conflict in the world,” she stated.

However, while a small number of Green Party public representatives said privately the change would cause tensions and divisions internally, the vast majority said the change announced by Mr Martin was in keeping with the Green Party policy on neutrality and the triple lock.

A number of the party’s TD and Senators pointed to a change in its policy on the triple lock, which was agreed unanimously at the party’s national convention in Cork last month, having been drafted by its policy committee in April.

Under the policy change, the Green Party believes the triple lock should remain for any multilateral overseas military operation that requires peace enforcement.

However, the amended policy held that if the mission was a peacekeeping one, the triple lock requirements should be relaxed.

Any peacekeeping mission would need to be approved by Dáil Éireann, reviewed by Seanad Éireann, and supported by either a UN (Security Council or General Assembly) resolution, or, if that was not possible, a decision of a regional organisation that complied with Chapter 8 of the UN Charter.

That Chapter allows the settlement of local disputes by the use of regional arrangements on the initiative of the states concerned. The party has said it could be an organisation such as the European Union or the African Union.

On Thursday, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman Senator Vincent P Martin said the Green Party policy had been agreed before the Consultative Forum began its work during the summer.

“This will remove the threat of peacekeeping missions being vetoed by autocratic regimes while still requiring the approval of a regional organisation that complies with the UN Charter,” he said.

“It’s also important to stress that peace enforcement missions will still be reliant on UN Security Council approval, similar to the existing triple lock,” he said.

Ciarán Cuffe, an MEP for Dublin, argued the amendment would actually strengthen Irish neutrality as the State would no longer be reliant on the globe’s most powerful countries.

“The Green Party has proposed a precise and limited expansion of this mechanism to ensure strict coherence with Ireland’s neutrality policy.”

Senator Pauline O’Reilly from Galway and Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh both said the party’s policy on triple lock did not differ from what the Tánaiste had said in his speech.