Submission to Consultative Forum

  • Posted on: 14 July 2023
  • By: shannonwatch

The government's Consultative Forum on International Security Policy has been wrapped up, and now we await the report of the chairperson Louise Richardson. Like many others, we were of the view that representation on the panels of speakers was skewed in favour of those who are in favour of Ireland joining NATO and other military alliances. We will not be surprised if this is reflected in the report that finally emerges.


A few days before the Forum we joined with others to hold a People's Forum in Limerick. We are grateful to our friends in People Before Profit Limerick for organising this; it was a lively and informed discussion, with a range of inputs, and it formed the basis for a submission to the Forum.

The following are the main points covered in the submission.

Submission to Consultative Forum on International Security Policy

To erode Irish Neutrality without holding a Citizens Assembly would be a breach of faith with the Irish public. This would be a highly undemocratic move and would further entrench Irish political apathy. A large majority of the Irish people want to maintain and restore positive Irish neutrality and want to maintain the triple lock to ensure that Irish Defence Forces only participate in genuine United Nations approved peacekeeping missions. The triple lock was introduced as a solemn protocol in the Seville Declaration agreed by the Irish Government and the European Union in order to persuade the Irish electorate to change their mind after they had rejected the Nice Treaty in a referendum on June 7th 2001. Therefore any change in the triple lock should only occur if approved by the people in a further referendum.

Because of Ireland’s small size no Irish Army, however large or well-equipped, could defend our country sufficiently. Any potential invader of Ireland would be immensely stronger, to the point where any attempt by the Irish Army to defend us would be futile and could lead only to unnecessary death and destruction. Therefore, the safest course for Ireland in this would be to remain as uninvolved as possible – in other words to seek to follow a meaningful neutrality policy as in World War 2. The risk of Ireland being invaded by a foreign power is so remote that it would be ludicrous to spend our scarce resources defending against a phantom invasion. Cyber-attacks are primarily criminal matters and are best protected against by good police cooperation nationally and internationally, and not matters for military forces.

We need to maintain our neutrality and sovereignty and play a positive and desperately needed role in advocacy for peace in this increasingly dangerous world we are being led into. As a small neutral country, Ireland’s global reach, respect and influence is immense. By eroding Irish neutrality we risk losing this incredible international power. NATO forces committed serious breaches of international laws across the wider Middle East and in Serbia since the end of the Cold War that have cost the lives of millions of people including the deaths due to war related reasons of an estimated one million children. Ireland needs to fully restore its positive neutrality, including ending US military use of Shannon airport to avoid complicity in such war crimes.

Ireland is currently in the midst of a housing crisis, experiencing a crumbling healthcare system and is falling behind the rest of Europe in terms of ramping up public transport and home retrofitting in order to mitigate the looming climate crisis. We do not need to invest in any further militarisation but to instead invest in what actually threatens people – climate crisis, poverty and pandemics. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in this context to align and ally ourselves with the US Military which has been shown by Brown University studies to be the single most destructive organisation on the planet in terms of pollution and CO2 emissions. It’s imperative that we remain in a political position to oppose such an organisation within the context of imminent ecological collapse.

It is high time the main political parties listened to the people rather than try to manipulate them. We demand that the government allow the population of Ireland to have our say and to hold a democratic referendum to enshrine Irish Neutrality within our constitution. The future of Ireland and the prospect of world peace depends on it. Despite its flaws, the United Nations’ Charter is the foundation of international law. By abandoning the triple lock and aligning Ireland too closely with NATO and a European Union defence alliance Ireland will further undermine the authority of the United Nations, and reinforce the ongoing abuses of power not only by the US and NATO but also by the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, China, Britian and France. Ireland must recommit its foreign policy to promoting genuine international peace and global justice.

The Irish government, and in particular the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have claimed that Ireland’s military neutrality is “evolving”. But in saying this, they want to push us towards increasing participation in military alliances and militarisation. This is not what the majority of Irish people want, as shown repeatedly in polls conducted in recent years. Neither is it the bast way to uphold the commitment to peace and justice that we have been renowned for.

We live in hope that public opinion and good sense will prevail.