A total of 116 candidates have committed to restoring Ireland's neutrality in response to a Peace Pledge drafted by the main peace and anti-war groups in Ireland. These candidates have said they will only support or join a Government that is prepared to end the US military use of Shannon Airport.
"This is a very important commitment in terms of Ireland's foreign policy" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch, one of the organisations behind the Peace Pledge. "It is also in line with the wishes of the Irish people. Polls consistently show that over two thirds of the population want a neutral Ireland that is not involved in wars of aggression or occupation. But by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base we are contributing to war and human rights abuse. The next government must end this practice and restore Irish neutrality."
All 50 Sinn Fein candidates are committed to supporting the Peace Pledge as are the Anti Austerity Alliance / People before Profit and the Workers Party. A number of candidates from the Green Party, Social Democrats and other parties, as well as Independents, have also signed up.
One of the first to sign the Peace Pledge was Richard Boyd Barrett TD who is also chairperson of the Irish Anti War Movement.
"The fact that not a single candidate from Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail or Renua has signed the Peace Pledge is telling" said Edward Horgan of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). "These parties may well have instructed their candidates to refuse to sign anything that helps protect our neutrality or diminish our role in military alliances. In doing so they are contributing to the death and suffering of millions of people, and to the refugee crises we have today."
A neutral state is subject to certain rules and obligations under international law, in particular the Hague Convention on Neutrality which states that "belligerents" are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power. "The movement of US military troops through Shannon Airport means that Ireland is in breach of its obligations as a neutral state, as does the participation of Ireland in military alliances like the NATO Partnership for Peace and European Union battlegroups." said John Lannon.
Irish neutrality is important because it enables the citizens of a small state like Ireland to promote international peace and justice and to protect human life and human rights. The organisers of the Peace Pledge emphasise this as an alternative to participation in destructive and unjustified wars and killing.
The Peace Pledge is available for signing on www.peacepledge.ie. A full list of supporting candidates is also available on the website.