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Irish Independence Democracy and Neutrality

Ending Ireland's United Nations Peacekeeping Role

PANA has consistently argued during the debate on the Amsterdam Treaty and Ireland's membership of Nato's PfP that Irish neutrality and Independence were being destroyed 'salami' style. The logic of this would be that the long and honourable tradition of Irish Army participation as a peacekeeping force directly under the auspices of the United Nations would effectively be terminated as it became integrated instead into the EU/NATO military structures.

Lieut. General Gerry McMahon (rtd.), chief-of-staff of the Defence Forces from 1995 to 1998, a long time supporter of this integration process, has declared that this policy is a "desertion of the United Nations".

In 1999 the Government signed up to the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS) in which it promised to provide up to 850 troops for UN Peacekeeping at any time. Yet the White Paper on Defence stated that this was, 'an expression of policy and not a binding commitment.'

The Irish UN Peacekeeping force in the Lebanon, our only major commitment to UN, has been terminated. Given the limited size of the Irish Army, the political elite had to make a choice: serve in the United Nations as a Peacekeeping Force or serve as a Regiment in the European Army (RRF).

They have made that choice. They have, apart from a small nominal involvement, abandoned Ireland's peacekeeping role in the only global inclusive organisation committed to securing peace through international co-operation and collective security, the UN.

- Ireland and the Security Council

PANA strongly welcomed the success of the Irish Government and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs in achieving a position on the Security Council. This is exactly the kind of focus advocated by PANA. We need to have an Independent Foreign Policy advocated in a global framework. Yet if Ireland is to agree to a Common Foreign and Defence Policy with the other states in the EU how can it have an independent foreign policy? What difference does it make whether Ireland or Italy sits on the Security Council? Ireland has simply voted with the US/EU axis, on the Security Council, taking the perks, while maintaining the illusion of Irish Independence in order to weaken the political forces, such as PANA, that genuinely support Irish Neutrality and an Independent Irish Foreign Policy.

The fact that Ireland topped the poll in elections to the UN Security Council is a reflection of the perceived anti-colonial and anti-imperial tradition in this country. But those votes were based on shadow not substance. Yet the New Agenda Coalition iniative provided a hint of what could be Ireland's future role in international politics.

- The New Agenda Coalition

The New Agenda coalition brought together seven Governments: Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Slovenia and Sweden, which agreed to work for a new agenda to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. At the year 2000 NPT review conference the State parties to the NPT accepted a new agenda for that objective. This has been a great achievement by the Irish Government. Yet as Patrick Smyth, the then European Correspondent of the Irish Times pointed out, 'it would not have happened within the context of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy'.

This is the most recent effective example of an Independent Irish Foreign Policy, where Ireland launched a global initiative with six other states, four of which were not, nor likely to become, Member States of the European Union. This initiative clearly exposes the fundamental contradiction between the two goals, Irish Independence or European Empire. Yet it is an indication of the effective abandonment of an independent foreign policy that this initiative has been virtually forgotten.

PANA is now advocating its own initiative to expose the contradiction in Government policy by advocating a Neutrality Amendment to the Constitution.

- The Neutrality Amendement

The Irish Constitution, unlike, for example, that of Malta, does not enshrine Neutrality in it, the historical reason being that at the time of the Constitution's adoption there was overwhelming political support for neutrality among the Irish people. When World War 2 broke out, the entire Dail, with only one exception, voted to support the policy of Irish Neutrality. Indeed elements of the political elite still declares they support the policy. Yet, through their advocacy of the Amsterdam Treaty, their support for Irish membership of Nato's PfP, and their involvement in the militarization of the EU, they in fact are destroying it. PANA, in order to expose publicly their real policy, has sought support for a Neutrality Amendment to the Constitution. This would amend Article 29.2 which reads:

'Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination.'
by adding a new clause:
'To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non membership of military alliances.'

Mainstream political parties have consistently refused to accept any such an amendment to date.

PANA believes that the great majority of the Irish people still support Irish neutrality Indeed an MRBI poll in June 2001 showed 72% support for it. Unlike critics of neutrality PANA believe it does not have its origins in World War 2, but is deeply rooted in our struggle for National Independence.

- Irish Neutrality

Irish Neutrality was advocated by Wolfe Tone, leader of the United Irishmen during a time of potential war between Britain and Spain in the 18th century. The United Irishmen in the 1790s sought to establish a United, Independent and Sovereign Irish Republic. They were part of an international democratic revolution against Monarchy and privilege. Their inclusive aim was to, 'Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter in the common name of Irishmen.

They were ruthlessly crushed by British Imperialism and its Irish allies. Over 30,000 United Irishmen, or 'terrorists' were killed. The commitment to Irish neutrality and independence was maintained in the 19th century by the Young Irelanders and the Irish Republican Brotherhood who in the early 20th century led the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. The Treaty which established the Irish State and the subsequent steps taken ensured our right to Neutrality and Independence. This independence was expressed through our support for international organisations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, or sponsoring of the Non-Proliferation Nuclear Treaty and our active role in UN peacekeeping.

Yet those Irish that supported Imperialism did not go away; they stayed in the long grass, waiting for their time to come again, which they now see in the emerging European Union and Empire.

The tradition of Redmond and Lord Kitchener is now being revived. Instead of being 'British' we are told we are all 'Europeans'. When once seeking Home Rule within the British Union, they now seek Home Rule within the European Union.

They seek this because they now identify with the rich elites of United States and European Union States which seek to maintain of a world economic order that has made the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.

The function of the NATO/EU military Force into which the Irish Army was that founded to establish and defend an Independent Democratic Republic and led by a democratically elected President - is now being integrated, is to defend the wealthy and defend their privileges. The NATO/ERRF states have 12% of the world's population and 40% of the wealth. The purpose of their armies is to keep it that way.

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