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Cabinet approval for Ireland's participation in EU Army violates Irish Neutrality – Ó Snodaigh

22 November

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed anger and disbelief at the decision of the Irish Government to approve Ireland’s involvement in the European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) at a recent cabinet meeting. The issue was raised by Sinn Féin TDs Sean Crowe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh during a debate on the issue in the Dáil yesterday.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“Article 29 (4) (9) of the Irish Constitution specifically states that the state will not adopt a common EU defence where such a defence would include the participation of the state. The government's decision to join PESCO runs totally contrary to that Article.

“The clear aim of PESCO is to jointly develop the EU's military capabilities and to make them available for EU military operations.

“These missions are not confined to peacekeeping missions, and would allow the EU to intervene in conflicts such as those in Libya and Syria outside of UN and NATO structures.

“PESCO is being driven by France and Germany, both key members of NATO and in reality the strategic aims of PESCO are inseparable of that of NATO.

“By signing up to this, the Government would, as well as committing to provide troops to PESCO missions, be committing to trebling current spending on defence at a huge cost to the Irish people.

“The Minister for Defence has confirmed that the Government has approved a proposal to notify the EU of our intention to participate in PESCO.

“This flies in the face of the state's Constitution and, to add insult to injury, it appears that the Minister has not even taken the minor precaution of obtaining legal advice before proceeding with this reckless action. This is the biggest policy decision in relation to Irish Defence Forces since Irish soldiers were first sent on UN duties in 1960s.

“I am flabbergasted that the Independent Alliance ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross, and Finian McGrath agreed at Cabinet to this clear breach of Irish neutrality, a policy they stated in the past that they would protect and cherish. Maybe they should have thought about taking a real stand for world peace, by rejecting this.

“Despite being such a momentous decision and being at odds with what was promised and committed to during the Lisbon Treaty debates, Minister Paul Kehoe it seems is hellbent on rushing this through the Oireachtas with little debate. The government are expected to try and rush this volte-face through the Dáil with as little debate as possible in next fortnight.

“I am calling on the government to halt their headlong move into this fledgling EU Army and, in particular, I am calling on the Independent Alliance Ministers to stand true to their stated position, protect Irish neutrality and to reverse this Cabinet decision or vote with us in the Houses of the Oireachtas who want to see Irish neutrality protected and enhanced.”

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