Tag Archives: Irish neutrality

Neutrality, how are ye? US warplanes at Shannon and transiting Irish air space

.lNonviolent News is publishing this list, compiled by Edward Horgan, because it shows part of the extent of existing Irish collusion with the USA military and NATO.

US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military transiting through Shannon airport and Irish air-space between 7th Oct 2023 and 17th March 2024.

The following are details compiled by Edward Horgan of US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military that have passed through Shannon airport and Irish air space between 7th October 2023 and 17th March 2024. Over 70 aircraft landings or overflights are listed here, but this is likely not the full list. Most of these aircraft were going to or coming from the Middle East. Due to limited resources, there may be some inaccuracies in the details below, including the fact that we are not able to monitor all aircraft transiting through Shannon airport or Irish airspace. However, the information provided below does demonstrate the very serious extent of Irish Government complicity in war crimes and genocide and unjustified breaches of Irish neutrality.

  1. 17th March 2024 OMNI Air number N234AX on contract to the US military, landed at Shannon airport at 0951am this morning coming from Tbilisi capital of Georgia, Omni Air N234AX flew on to US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina

  2. 16th March 2024 Omni Air N378AX also on contract to the US military landed at Shannon about 0450am coming from Indianapolis in the US, and took off again at 0726am heading for Sofia in Bulgaria and onwards to US air base Al Udeid in Qatar. This is the largest US base in the Middle East. Both aircraft are likely to have been transporting armed US soldiers.

  3. 12th March 2024 Omni Air N828AX on contract to the US military landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from coming from El Paso, and Fort Cavazos TX and Baltimore. I It then flew on to Kuwait one of the major distribution points for US troops and munitions around the Middle East,

  4. 13th March 2024 US Air Force C40C number 02-0202 landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from US Airbase Andrews, Camp Springs, Washington. It then flew on to Amman capital of Jordan before flying towards the Gulf of Aqaba.

  5. 9th March 2024 US Navy C40 number 16-5833 landed at Shannon airport at 02.36 am this morning coming from New Orleans Naval Air Station via Dover Portsmouth.

  6. 8th March 2024 US Marine Corps KC130J Super Hercules number 16-9532 arrived at Shannon from Milwaukee in the US a distance of over 5,700 kilometres. It spent6 the day and overnight at Shannon and took off again today at 11.58 and then flew on to Cambridge airport in England. Its destination after Cambridge is not known.

  7. 3rd March 2024 US Air Force, Gulfstream 5 executive jet number 99-0402 flew through Irish airspace on 3rd March, using callsign SAM265 on its way to Frankfurt and from there it flew to Cyrus and to Tel Aviv Israel on 4th March. On its return journey to the US it landed at Shannon about 17.55 pm on 5th March and stayed overnight at Shannon and then took off at about 09.00am on 6th March and flew on to Washington. This type of US Air Force aircraft may well have been carrying senior US administration officials or senior US military officers. Given the US active support for the genocide being committed by Israeli in Gaza no US military aircraft or aircraft on contract to the US military should be allowed land at Irish airports or pass through Irish airspace. This makes Ireland complicit in US war crimes and in possible acts of genocide.

  8. 4th March 2024 Omni Air aircraft number N846AX landed at Shannon airport, having come from Baltimore Washington. It then flew on to Sofia Bulgaria and from there to Kuwait. It then flew back to the US through Irish airspace on the 5th March.

  9. 2nd March 2024 There were at least 4 US military aircraft at Shannon on 2nd March. Two US Air Force Hercules C140H aircraft landed at Shannon Tuesday 27th February coming from Ramstein US air base in Germany. They remained at Shannon until today. Their registration numbers were 89-9106 and 92-3023. They both took off from Shannon at about 11.40am this morning and then flew to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk where they spent a few hours before flying on north towards Iceland.

  10. US Air force Boeing C40C registration number 02-0201 arrived at Shannon airport on 2nd March about 04.43am coming from Washington US and took off again about 06.15 am and flew on Brindisi in Italy.

  11. US Air Force Boeing C40B number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 16.00pm, coming from Tel Aviv Israel. It took off again about 17.50 heading west towards the USA. Previously on 26th February it arrived at Shannon coming from MacDill air force base in Florida at about 22.00 pm and took off again heading towards the Middle East. It landed in both Cyprus and Israel on 28th February, but its movements otherwise are not clear. This type of aircraft is usually used by senior US Government officials who have been supporting Israeli genocidal attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

  12. 1st March 2024 Omni Air N207AX arrived at Shannon on 28 Feb from US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, and Tbilisi in Georgia. It returned to Shannon on 1st March about 0013 AM and took off for Washington DC about 0307am.

  13. 29th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 01.48 on 29 Feb and then flew on to US base at Poznan in Poland, and to Sofia in Bulgaria and then to the Persian Gulf area. It then returned to Shannon today at about 0844am and took off again about 11.45am on its return journey to the US.

  14. 28th Feb 2024 Two US air force Hercules C130H landed at Shannon airport on 28 Geb., number 90-9108 landed at 12.40pm and number 92-3023 landed at 12.58pm. Both were coming from Ramstein US Air base in Germany. They are still at Shannon airport this Wednesday morning. At least one of them made deliveries in recent days to British airbase Akrotiri in Cyprus which is one of the delivery points for Israel.

  15. 19th Feb 2024 US Air force Gulfstream 5, number 01-0029 arrived at Shannon about 10.35 coming from Vienna probably from the Security Conference, and took off again about 11.30am and has since landed at Washington. On 14th February this aircraft landed at Tel Aviv Israel.

  16. 17th Feb 2024, US Navy C40a aircraft number 165832 landed back at Shannon coming from Bahrain on its way back to the US. It arrived at Shannon on 15th Feb stayed overnight at Shannon and travelled on to Bahrain via Chania in Crete most likely delivering military materials to Bahrain for distribution around the Middle East.

  17. 12 Feb 2024 US Military Beechcraft BE20 landed at Shannon coming from Keflavik in Iceland, and stayed overnight at Shannon. Its registration number is 84-00162.

  18. 8th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX On contract to the US military passed through Shannon on 8th February and flew on to the Kuwait which is a US Military distribution point for other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It then flew on to Oman and also very likely went on Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. It returned to refuel at Shannon airport yesterday on its way back to the USA.

  19. 6th Feb 2024 a US Marine Corps Cessna C580 executive jet number 166715 landed at Shannon about 10.54 am coming from Bordeaux in France4th February,

  20. Omni Air N342AX on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on its way to Kuwait and Qatar. It also refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US on Monday 5th February.

  21. 5th Feb. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s aircraft US Air force 99-0004 refuelled at Shannon airport this morning, in spite of the fact that he and the US government are actively complicity and assisting the genocide that is happening in Gaza and the West Bank at present. The aircraft arrived at Shannon from Washington at about 0400 am and took off again about 0550 am, and was last seem over the Adriatic Sea on its way to the Middle East. Meanwhile two US Navy Hercules KC130T aircraft spent last night 4th Feb. at Shannon airport.

  22. 4th Feb 2024 US Navy Hercules C130 spent 2 overnights at Shannon airport. It arrived from Norfolk Naval Air Station Virginia on 2nd Feb. This US Navy aircraft made quick stopover at Sigonella US Naval Air station located at Sigonella Italian air base in Sicily. This US NA Station NAS Sigonella is the hub of U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean and is also likely to be actively involved in supporting Israeli war crimes in Gaza. This US Navy Hercules C130 refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US.

  23. 31st Jan 2024- US military Beech 200 Super King turboprop number 84-00488, arrived at Shannon coming from an air base near Naples. Prior to that it had been in the Red Sea area on Monday where the US has been launching attacks against Yemen.

  24. 26th Jan 2024 Omni Air n234ax refuelled at Shannon having come from Washington yesterday and took off from Shannon about 05.18am and flew on to Aviano air base in Italy which is a major logistic distribution base.

  25. 23rd Jan It US Navy C40 aircraft landed at Shannon airport just after 5am. Its number was 16-6696 and it was coming from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia and from Naval Air Station Moyport near Jacksonville, Florida. It stayed overnight at Shannon and then flew on to Sigonella air base in Sicily,

  26. 17th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules C130T number 16-5160 landed at Shannon about 13.38 coming from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It has been in Bahrain a few days ago also so may well have been supporting US military aggression across the Middle East.

  27. 16th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules KC130T mid-air refueller, number 16-5315 arrived from Rota naval airbase in Spain about 12.05pm stayed overnight and took off about 10am

  28. US Air force C40 arrived at Shannon about 12.15 coming from Zurich and Bucharest and took off again about 13.00 heading west towards USA.

  29. 11th Jan 2024 At least 3 aircraft associated with US military were refuelled at Shannon airport on 11th Jan. The aircraft most likely carrying Anthony Blinken US Secretary of State, who has been very actively supporting the Israeli government committing Genocide against the Palestinian people, landed at Shannon about 18.05 pm this evening. The aircraft number was 99-0004. During his tour of the Middle East he helped organise air attacks by the US and UK on Yemen,

  30. Omni Air N819AX landed at Shannon about 01.32 coming from Bardufoss air base in northern Norway. It took off this evening about 17.00 heading west towards the USA.

  31. The Third aircraft was a Hercules HC130J belonging to the US Marine Corps. This is a multipurpose aircraft with a mid-air refuelling capacity. It also came from Bardufoss air base and It landed this evening about 19.30pm. Its registration number was 16-9229.

  32. 9th Jan. an Eastern Airlines aircraft number N706KW had been at Shannon for a few days, but was on contract to the US military using US military call sign CMB566. It took off from Shannon shortly after 8am on 9th Jan and flew on to Rzeszow airport in SE Poland which is one of the main supply airports for the Ukrainian military.

  33. 8th Jan. Omni Air N846AX coming from Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, landed at Shannon about 02.05 am and took off again about 05.05 and flew on to Kuwait and to the United Arab Emirates using US military call sign CMB554. On its return journey to the USA today Jan 9th it stopped off at an airbase in Jordan and at Ramstein air base in Germany.

  34. 5th Jan. Omni Air registration number N225AX arrived at Shannon yesterday coming from Fort Worth Dallas Texas, refuelled at Shannon and then travelled on to Kuwait and to Al Udeid air base in Qatar. Al Udeid is the largest US air base in the Middle East and is used a major distribution point for distributing US soldiers and military materials (bombs etc) to other locations around the Middle East, including Israel. It also refuelled at Shannon on its way back to the USA.

  35. 5th and 6th Jan. were busy for US military activity going through Shannon airport and through Irish airspace. a US Marine Corps Super Hercules KC130J number 16-6512 refuelling tanker overflew through Irish airspace 6th Jan. travelling from Stuttgart in Germany probably to Iceland.

  36. Omni N819AX overflew Irish airspace early this morning heading for Al Udeid air base in Qatar.

  37. Omni N828AX flew through Irish airspace on 5th Jan. from Kuwait to El Paso in Texas, and is now on its way again from El Paso to the Middle East and refuelled at Shannon

  38. On 6th Jan. Omni N846AX refuelled at Shannon on 5th Jan on its way to Kuwait, and returned to US today overflying through Irish airspace at about 11.50am.

  39. Omni N423AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Sofia Bulgaria and probably also to the Persian Gulf.

  40. Omni N225AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Ramstein US air base in Germany.

  41. Also on 5th Jan. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken probably passed through Shannon airport in US Air Force aircraft number 99-0004, coming from Camp Springs Andrews air base in Washington and landing at Shannon for refuelling about 10.30 and taking off again about 12 noon.

  42. 20th December At least 3 US air force aircraft refuelled at Shannon on their way back from the Middle East USAF C17 Globemaster number 07-7185 arrived at Shannon from Camp Springs Washington on 17 December, and then flew on to Ramstein in Germany and from there possibly to Israel. On 20 December it returned to Shannon about 17.50, refuelled and left Shannon towards the US at about 20.35pm.

  43. On 18 Dec. 2023 another USAF C17 Globemaster number 02-1106 was in Tel Aviv Israel. On 20 Dec., it was in Bahrain and flew from there to Akrotiri British air base in Cyprus and from there to Shannon where it landed about 19.20pm.

  44. On 17 December USAF C32A came from Camp Springs Washington, overflew through Irish airspace, landed at Ramstein in Germany and then flew on to the Middle East, most likely to Israel. On 20 December it arrived at Shannon about 19.15, coming from Akrotiri in Cyprus and probably also from Israel. It took off again from Shannon about 20.30 heading west towards the US. At least two of these flights were likely to be connected to the presence of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Israel where he was providing support for the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

  45. 19th Dec 2023 US air force C40B number 02-0042 landed at Shannon airport about 15.40pm coming from a strange location in the Palestinian West Bank, possibly an Israeli air base. It took off again at 1735pm heading for Camp Springs air base near Washington.

  46. 17th Dec. 2023 USAF C17 Globemaster arrived at Shannon about 03.40 am coming from Camp Springs air base in Washington, and took off again at about 06.45am heading for Ramstein air base in Germany.

  47. USAF C40 Boeing 757 number 99-0004 also travelled from Camp Springs in Washington, landed at Shannon about 03.30am and took off again about 05.00 am and went on to Ramstein air base in Germany. Both later travelled on towards the Middle East.

  48. 15th Dec. 2023 US air force number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 6pm coming from Israel and Palestinian West Bank. It may have been transporting Jake Sullivan Whitehouse National Security Advisor who met Netanyahu and probably told him that US has approved the sale and immediate delivery of 13,000 more tank shells for Israeli bombing of Gaza.

  49. Also landed at Shannon tonight about 9.15pm was Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military coming from Kuwait and Oman and possibly also from Djibouti.

  50. 14th Dec. 2023 Another US military aircraft at Shannon airport. US air force C40C seems to have arrived at Shannon on Monday 11 December from the United Arab Emirates. Its registration number is 02-0203. It took off from Shannon 14 Dec heading west towards the USA.

  51. 11th Dec. US military Hercules KC130J mid-air refuelling aircraft number 169225 landed at Shannon airport about 17.10pm, coming from Bardufoss air base in Norway.

  52. Earlier on 11th Dec. a C40 US military transport aircraft coming from Dubai and a US Air force Gulfstream 5 executive Jet also landed at Shannon.

  53. 10th Dec. US Navy C40 Clipper number 16-5831. arrived at Shannon yesterday about 02.26am and stayed all day and overnight at Shannon, leaving about 09.10am. It came from Naval Air Station New Orleans and Dover air base Delaware, it went on to land in Bahrain.

  54. US air force registration number is 01-0015 Boeing 737-700, coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida landed at Shannon about 19.17pm tonight and took off again about 21.40pm, heading east towards Europe and likely towards the Middle East.

  55. 6th Dec. Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military was refuelled at Shannon coming from air bases in Qatar, Kuwait and Ramstein in Germany.

  56. 7th Dec. US Air force special operations plane number 62-4131 R135W flew through Irish airspace coming from Omaha and it landed at Cambridge UK, and then flew on the UAE and Qatar. An almost identical aircraft RC135 number 64-148432 has been doing almost daily reconnaissance type flights and patrols off the coast of Gaza beginning on 7th October the day the Gaza war began using Chania air base in Crete to refuel. It was still on patrol off Gaza today 9th December 2023.

  57. 1st Dec. 2023 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military overflew through Irish airspace on 29 Nov. landed at Frankfurt Hahn and flew on to Bahrain. It then flew back to Nuremberg and Riga Latvia and landed at Shannon about 01.57am on 1st Dec.

  58. On 29th Nov Omni Air N468AX coming from US landed at Shannon about 03.55am and took off again about 0755 and flew on to Rzeszow in Poland near the border with Ukraine, and also landed in Nuremberg and Romania. On 30th Nov it landed at Shannon about 03.54 and took off the US about 06.09, and has since landed at Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia.

  59. On 29 Nov Omni Air N828AX overflew through Irish Airspace coming from Washington DC, and flew on to land at Ramstein air base in German and to air bases in Kuwait and Qatar when are major US distributions bases to other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It overflew through Irish airspace again on 1st Dec. at about 01.34am on its way back to the USA.

  60. Also on 1st Dec. Omni Air N819AX flew through Irish airspace about 1400pm coming from Dallas TX. It was last seen flying over Romania probably heading towards the Middle East

  61. 28th Nov. 2023 a US navy aircraft number 16-5829 landed at Shannon airport. coming from Oceana airbase Virginia Beach. It stayed overnight at Shannon and on 29 Nov then travelled on to joint air base Chania in Crete and has returned to Shannon again later on 29th.

  62. 13th Nov. 2023 US air force aircraft registration 02-0042 arrived at Shannon airport coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida. It took off again about 9pm heading south east over Europe.

  63. 10th Nov. US Navy C40A aircraft registration number 16-5832 arrived at Shannon from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It stayed for two overnights at Shannon and took off on 12th Nov. and flew on to Portsmouth in the USA.

  64. 6th Nov. 2023 three aircraft on contract to US military refuelled at Shannon. Omni Air N378AX arrived at Shannon also from Fort Campbell in Tennessee, It refuelled at Shannon and has since flown on to land near Constanta in Romania.

  65. Omni air N828AX went on to make deliveries to Nuremberg Germany, Tallinn in Estonia and Poznan in Poland.

  66. Omni air N846AX has since landed in Kuwait.

  67. 2nd Nov. US Air force diplomatic aircraft number 98-0002 landed at Shannon airport at about 23:02 coming from Camp Springs Joint Air base Andrews in Washington DC. It may well have been carrying US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who was due to visit Israel and possibly other locations in the Middle East.

  68. 27th Oct. Omni Air aircraft number N468AX landed for refuelling about 22.13 pm while on contract to the US military transportation command. It was coming from Oman in the Persian Gulf via Sofia in Bulgaria, but also looks like it had also made a return journey from a location south of Oman, probably to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

  69. 22nd Oct. US Navy Hercules C130T landed at Shannon yesterday 21st October about 15:45 pm coming from Sigonella in Sicily and Bahrain. It stayed overnight last night and took off about 10:34 this morning heading west towards the USA.

  70. 17 Oct 2023 Eastern Airlines aircraft registration number N705KW which was on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on Tuesday 17th October, coming from Bangor Maine USA, and then travelled on to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and landed again at Shannon airport on its return journey on 19th Oct.

  71. 7th Oct. 2023 Omni Air N468AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 5.52 am coming from Pope Army Air Field in North Carolina and from Baltimore Washington. It took off again about 09.33am made a further refuelling stop at Sofia Bulgaria and then flew on to Kuwait.

On 7th October 2023 war has once again broken out between Israel and Palestine with hundreds of people killed in the last 24 hours.

Our thoughts and prayers are are with the victims of war everywhere.

In the meantime, the death toll in Gaza up to 17TH March 2024 has exceeded 31,000 including at least 12,300 children.

Shannonwatch website is at www.shannonwatch.org

The next monthly Shannon peace vigil on Sunday 14th April 2pm to 3pm.

Editorials: Defence and offence, Western hypocrisy and power

Irish neutrality

Defence and offence

Irish neutrality is an ongoing hot potato, not least because the Irish government and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, wants to gobble it up and fall in totally with NATO and EU militarism while always proclaiming ‘neutrality is not at risk’. The so-called Consultative Forum on International Security Policy of mid-2023 provided no justification for any change, especially abolishing the ‘Triple Lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas, but Martin and the Irish government pretend it does. See the StoP report on that ‘Forum’ for more details https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2023/10/18/stop-report-on-consultative-forum-on-international-security/ A move in the Dáil to get rid of the Triple Lock could happen at any time; see the Irish Neutrality League leaflet on this at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53559581373/in/dateposted/

However there are various other developments and pressures taking place, not least in the mainstream media (especially The Irish Times) to support moving closer to NATO. And regular comments in mainly British media, and sometimes from unionist politicians, allege Irish ‘freeloading’ off NATO, by relying on British ‘defence’. This only makes sense if a) you accept the militarist mindset that Ireland could be invaded or attacked in some way by, presumably, Russia and b) you don’t see NATO policies as themselves antagonistic and likely to inflame international tensions, again with Russia. And a British report recommended that the UK strengthen its military presence in Northern Ireland, see https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/politics/leo-varadkar-defends-irelands-security-commitments-after-london-report-accuses-dublin-of-freeloading-on-defence-4506500

The Irish government is an enthusiastic fellow traveller with NATO. It does not proclaim any desire to join NATO (because that would cause an uproar since ‘neutrality’ is still supported by a considerable majority of citizens) but participates in various forms of cooperation, e.g. https://www.irishtimes.com/crime-law/2024/02/09/ireland-enters-wide-ranging-agreement-with-nato-aimed-at-countering-russia-threats/ We would not say that there is no threat to Irish-linked undersea cabling by Russia but we can be clear that any such threat is part of NATO-Russia antagonism and the best way to tackle this is through active neutrality and engagement with the parties, including working for a solution to the war in Ukraine. Who could best save Europe from war? The militarist and war-making NATO or a small country who, along with others, decided to work in an innovative and imaginative way to defuse situations and build peace?

INNATE supports nonviolence and nonviolent civilian defence and social defence (the latter including defence of social and cultural being more than it is of territory, although that too). However we recognise that within a military approach to defence there is such a thing as “non-offensive defence”, i.e. a defence of territory which cannot be construed to be offensive and therefore does not give rise to arms races and international antagonism over military developments. It would appear that the Irish government, while still paying (increasingly unrealistic) homage to Irish neutrality, has never actually heard of this concept of non-offensive defence but instead wants to go the whole way to put all its eggs in the NATO style militarist basket. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Unfortunately with NATO it is possible that in due course we will have to duck for cover – and in modern warfare, as in Gaza, there may be nowhere to hide.

War is not a game. http://innatenonviolence.org/posters/Children_and_Conflict4_Not%20game.pdf

How the West was one

…… hypocritical power abuser

In ‘the West’ we think we are the best, nay, more than that, we know we are the best in the world. This editorial aims to briefly explore that concept. It is not that we do not value ‘western freedoms and democracy’ but that these need qualification in description and have sometimes been dependent on the putting down, literally or metaphorically, of others.

Western empires are thought to be well in the past but their effect more than lingers on in plundered wealth. India was one of the wealthiest areas of the world when Britain took control, initially through private enterprise. When Britain left India it was at the bottom of the wealth pile. But the legacy of empire is still controversial and Britain and France, for example, are generally unwilling to consider that legacy. The aftermath of colonialism is still very obvious in Northern Ireland where the 17th century plantation is the primary root of division; while the Good Friday Agreement has helped make some progress in dealing with that division, it has also, in its consociational elements, copperfastened it.

While Ireland in general (not the unionist part) lauds its anti-imperialist and anti-colonial history, its simultaneous involvement in British imperialism is not necessarily marked. The 19th century British army – that body which actualised empire through violence and repression – was one third Irish. Most Irishmen who joined may have done so for survival and a job rather than a commitment to queen and empire but that was who and what they served.

Today the wealth of the Republic is largely due to tax paid by US multinationals who came partly, or in some cases primarily, because of the low business taxes. A considerable amount of this was and is diversion of tax which should certainly have been paid in other, often much poorer, countries, since such companies are adept at moving profits to where is most advantageous to them in terms of paying tax. This is Ireland creaming off wealth from elsewhere.

And the Irish government, in a country which was once anti-imperialist in terms of international policy, is rapidly trying to join former imperialist powers, and others, in the creation of a pan-European empire which is projected, and euphemised, as a peace project but is now in reality about power and control. We have only to look at what has been happening in relation to EU border control to get a glimpse of the future; and yet far more refugees and migrants are hosted in the (poor) countries neighbouring conflict zones than ever get anywhere near (rich) Europe. Europe often lambastes the USA for its imperial adventures but the EU is rapidly heading towards being another global superpower.

Ireland, which because of colonialism exported vast numbers of citizens, is now under pressure from right wing ideologues proclaiming the island is ‘full’. The government has continued with a grossly unfair system of direct provision for asylum seekers which is contrary to any reasonable definition of human rights but is also an insult to the memory of the Irish people who had to emigrate for economic reasons or to survive in the past.

The ecological crisis is largely the product of the rich, industrialised, West. Certainly relatively newly industrialised countries such as China are now major contributors of greenhouse gases but overall those who have created the problem are those who have the most resources to at least partly ‘buy their way out of it’, and least likely to suffer now or in the future from global heating. While movement on the issue is taking place it is largely at a glacial pace and nothing like the resources which are available are being thrown at it – and Irish green policies are woeful.

The West’ is proud of its democratic values but what are these worth? Both the UK and USA have systems which at the top are unrepresentative of the population. The UK’s ‘first past the post’ system is medieval at best, highly unrepresentative, and has largely favoured right wing politics – and policies which would never have had a chance of being implemented had there been a fairer system in place. The US system, while it does possess ‘checks and balances’, is at the top the preserve of those who can raise massive amounts of money – a system favouring right wing and business interests – relative to others. And even that system is at risk in the USA as the right wing seek to overthrow accepted norms. And in Europe various citizen rights are being curtailed, often due to populist right wing pressure. Whistleblowers on state crimes may not be executed but they can be persecuted beyond reason, as with Julian Assange.

Nor are the powerful countries of the West peaceful. Recent decades have seen wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (undertaken on dubious grounds even within establishment thinking) which have led to further misery and destabilisation, in the case of Libya contributing to violence and destabilisation in a whole region, and the West has also supported war in Yemen, for example. The slaughter in Gaza currently has been strongly supported by the USA, militarily and financially, and also backed by Germany and to a lesser extent Britain. It was the imperialist Balfour Declaration of 1917 by Britain which eventually led, through different processes and wars, to the seizure of Palestinian lands by Israel. And if the USA and Britain had not overthrown the democratic government in Iran in 1953, to prevent the nationalisation of western oil interests, how different the history of that country and the region might have been. Western arms companies contribute in a major way to violence worldwide. NATO nuclear policies, including those of Britain and France, are a danger to the whole world. And wars outside of areas of perceived western interest, e.g. Sudan, get ignored.

An article in this issue by Peter Emerson looks at some issues in relation to Russia, Ukraine, eastern Europe and the Caucasus. We maintain strongly that NATO’s move to the borders of Russia – a country twice invaded from western Europe during the 20th century – was a major contributor to the current war in Ukraine.

There are various simplicities included in the above. And none of the above justifies the negative and violent policies of other countries such as Russia or China where human rights range from much worse to non-existent. But far from the West being awake to the realities of its policies, past and present, and their effects, it seems it is asleep at the wheel when it comes to self awareness. This makes for a mountain to climb for the future. It is however the task of social and political change movements to pull the wool from people’s eyes and show the reality so more positive politics can progress.

Posters on Triple Lock

The ‘Triple Lock’ on deployment of Irish soldiers overseas is a key feature of Irish neutrality – and a key restraint on them being committed to involvement in fighting wars as opposed to peacekeeping.  Two new downloadable, printable (A4) mini-posters are available from INNATE on the Triple Lock and the attempt by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to get rid of them – whatever people want.  See https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Triple-Lock-Neutrality-2.pdf  and https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Warlock.pdf     December 2023

StoP report on Consultative Forum on International Security

The controversial ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ of June 2023 was set up by the Minister for Foreign Affairs – but to what end? This detailed report, prepared by a working group of StoP (Swords to Ploughshares Ireland), looks at the 4 days of the Forum in detail. Included is a preamble, setting the scene, and a substantial set of conclusions which can be drawn from the current situation regarding neutrality and security and what the Forum did and did not consider, Click here to download – StoP Report Forum on International Security Mark 2

This is also available on the StoP website at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/report

 

 

News, July 2023, NN 311

Neutrality and ‘security’: Peace protests are felt

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department held all the cards in setting up the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ in the Republic but peace and neutrality activists and groups made plenty of noise and contributions contrary to the establishment view. They were able to raise severe doubts about the enterprise during the process which the Minister had designed to get the result he wanted in removing the ‘triple lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas. See Editorial and article by Dominic Carroll in email and web editions for more details and resource links immediately below. Civil society’s effort was obviously greatly assisted through comments from President Michael D Higgins who correctly identified an (undemocratic) ‘drift’ towards NATO.

For those wanting to learn more, much other information is available:

1. An excellent general overview of the issues by Carol Fox appeared in the Irish Examiner www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/commentanalysis/arid-41169388.html See also Martina Devlin in The Irish Independent, 23rd June (paywall).

2. A photo album on the Citizens’ Forum meetings, and the Consultative Forum on International Security and protests regarding the same appears on the INNATE photo site at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408

3. Afri’s recent booklet on Irish neutrality “A Force for Good?” is available for purchase (€10) www.afri.ie The video (68 minutes) of the recent online launch of this publication is worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMpOi6gnSkg and there is a shorter 22 minute documentary from Afri on the issue at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h00k3pFLofk

4. Slides from presentations by Dr Karen Devine, providing valuable detail, appear on her website at https://www.drkarendevine.com/

5. For an international view which supports armed defence by neutrals see https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/06/06/ukraine-russia-war-neutrality-nonalignment/

6. The official programme of the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39289-consultative-forum-programme/ and 4 days of video are available https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/00e68-follow-the-forum-online/# (you have to agree to the cookies) and you can make up your own mind about the balance or imbalance on particular panels, and on the whole process.

Advancing Nonviolence: Catholic Nonviolence Initiative

On Saturday 14th October, 10.30am – 1.30pm there will be an event run by Pax Christi Ireland in conjunction with The Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI); this is a project of Pax Christi International to deepen understanding and commitment to Gospel nonviolence. The main speakers are Marie Dennis and Pat Gaffney, CNI. The venue is the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, and further details will be available in September. Contact: Tony D’Costa, Pax Christi Ireland, email: tdc1@paxchristi.ie The CNI website is at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/

NI NGOs call for urgent anti-poverty strategy

Dire cuts to services and support to those in need are in process in the North. On 28th June NGOs, trade unions, and academics called for an anti-poverty strategy based on objective need to be a day one priority for a new NI Executive at a seminar held in Stormont. The half day seminar on ‘Progressing an anti-poverty strategy for Northern Ireland’ was organised jointly by the Equality Coalition, Barnardo’s NI, and Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network (NIAPN). Northern Ireland has been waiting for an anti-poverty strategy for almost twenty years. The 2006 St Andrews Agreement contained a legal obligation for the NI Executive to develop a strategy to tackle poverty, social exclusion, and patterns of deprivation based on objective need. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/ngos-call-for-urgent-progress-on-an-anti-poverty-strategy-for-ni/

ECHR and NI Legacy Bill

CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice has welcomed the Interim Resolution from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe published on 8th June. The resolution records ‘serious concern’ that there has been no tangible progress to address concerns the legacy bill is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In particular, the Committee of Ministers has called on the UK authorities to reconsider the proposed amnesty scheme and the shutting down of legacy inquests. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/caj-welcomes-new-human-rights-resolution-from-european-ministers/

Good Relations Week in the North: 18-24 September

This year’s theme for Good Relations Week in the North is ‘Together’; coordinated by the Community Relations Council, this showcases many different examples of work on eradicating sectarianism, racism, and inequality and has a focus on cooperation, inclusivity, and progress. For more information on Good Relations Week 2023 and to register an event, visit https://goodrelationsweek.com/

FOE on LNG: Petition to stop government backsliding

Irish Friends of the Earth is campaigning against the government possibly permitting a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) storage facility. FOE state “One of the Green Party’s conditions for going into Government was that the coalition Government would oppose the development of LNG terminals for importing fracked gas into Ireland. Highly polluting fracked LNG was a red line issue – and rightly so. But now we’re worried that Minister Eamon Ryan may be considering a U-turn on long-standing Green Party policy on LNG.” Further info and an online petition on the FOE website at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/act/say-no-to-government-u-turn-on-lng/

l FOE have an Action Pledge you can take at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/act/friends-of-the-earth-action-pledge/

ICCL: Facial recognition illegality by Dept of Social Protection

A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) reveals for the first time that the Department of Social Protection has known that its biometric processing of personal data arising from the Public Services Card (PSC) project is illegal.  The DPIA indicates the Department of Social Protection has built a national biometric database of 3.2 million cardholders’ unique facial features since 2013, including, in some cases, those of children. It also indicates that the Department is intent on retaining each cardholder’s biometric data for their individual lifetime, plus 10 years. Olga Cronin, Surveillance and Human Rights Policy Officer, ICCL, says: “The Department has been building a national biometric database without a relevant legal basis and without transparency. It continues to collect people’s biometric information in exchange for services they are legally entitled to. This must stop. This processing is unnecessary, disproportionate, and presents a risk to people’s fundamental rights.More info at https://www.iccl.ie/news/psc-facial-recognition-software-dpia/

l ICCL has welcomed the 14th June plenary vote in the European Parliament on the EU’s draft Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. The vote establishes the Parliament’s position on the Act ahead of negotiations with the Council of the EU and the European Commission. The Parliament’s text includes a complete ban on the use of real-time facial recognition technology (FRT) in public spaces and represents a significant blow to the Irish Government’s plans to introduce FRT for An Garda Síochána.

ICCL on Offences Against the State Acts Review Group

ICCL has called for immediate implementation of key recommendations of the Offences Against the State Acts Review Group which recommends its repeal. https://www.iccl.ie/news/minister-must-implement-review-groups-recommendation-and-repeal-the-offences-against-the-state-acts/

Síolta Chroí: Ecosystem restoration for community groups

Upcoming courses at Co Monaghan centre Síolta Chroí include one, 26th-27th August, on Ecosystem restoration for community groups, looking at how groups that have access to, or look after, pieces of land can create systems that sequester carbon, build biodiversity and restore the ecosystem. Full info at https://sioltachroi.ie/courses-and-events/

Russia: COs movement declared ‘foreign agent’

On 23rd June the Movement of Conscientious Objectors was officially labeled as a “foreign agent” in the Russian Federation. They state, “This action, while a demonstration of the effectiveness of our work, is fundamentally a discriminatory application of law that contradicts universally accepted human rights and freedoms.…… A significant number of our volunteers and coordinators are based in Russia, and they now face a heightened risk of state pressure and persecution. Despite these increased threats, we remain committed to supporting those who resist war and forced conscription.” See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2023/another-blatant-human-rights-violation-russia-labelling-movement-conscientious-objectors

Global Women for Peace United Against NATO

A new international women’s movement has been formed and has produced a Declaration for Peace, outlining its message of peace, justice, solidarity, and common security. As part of the international protests, they are organising a programme of events in Brussels, home of the NATO headquarters, taking place from 6th to 9th July (there will be a NATO summit in Vilnius, 11th-12th July). Join in person or online. http://womenagainstnato.org/

Editorials: Consultative Forum on International Security, Northern Ireland – a different inefficiency

Consultative Forum on International Security

Peace and neutrality activists don’t let the government away with it….

In their concluding remarks on the fourth and final day of the Consultative Forum on International Security, Micheál Martin, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Louise Richardson, Forum chair, were in congratulatory mode (to the country and themselves) for the liveliness of debate and even the involvement of people in the process through protest. To an uninformed observer these might seem urbane remarks however since the protests were due to the discriminatory way in which the whole enterprise was set up, this was rather hollow and putting a gloss on something which was less than satisfactory and of their own making. The previous establishment and government line was that protesters were trying to shut down debate; given the organisers’ own role in trying to control the agenda for debate, the opposite was the case.

Louise Richardson also said she knew of no other country where such a forum had taken place, implying how wonderful Irish democracy was. This was true about the uniqueness of the event. What she did not say however was that it was taking place because of political expediency on the part of the Minister. He wanted to remove – presumably still aims to remove – the triple lock (government, Dáil, UN) on the deployment of Irish troops overseas this autumn. The war in Ukraine gave an excuse to try to move things in the direction he wanted but he needed some ‘democratic’ credentials or ‘weaponised’ basis to do so – and thus set up what purported to be a ‘Forum’ (‘a public event for open discussion of ideas’) but was actually a long conference with speakers hand picked by the Minister and his staff to give the answers or direction he wanted. The whole process was not instigated out of the goodness of the Minister’s heart, and his desire for democracy, but for very particular political ends.

The Irish government has been trying to use the war in Ukraine, and Russian invasion, as a reason to change the ‘triple lock’. There is only one case where the triple lock may have prevented a peacekeeping deployment and that did not involve Russia. Of course the government and pro-government speakers did not mention the warmongering of the USA and the West, nor the breach of neutrality by giving Shannon for US military use, no questions asked. The background also included the lie that the Forum was not about neutrality as opposed to ‘security’ as if the two were unconnected, another part of the ‘get rid of neutrality by stealth’ strategy.

Micheál Martin has previously stated how much he learned and benefited from conciliation programme run by Quaker House Belfast (for info on the latter see https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/50654202881/in/album-72157717185737611/ ). This was in getting to meet, and know Northern unionists – and he does have a reputation among unionists as being someone who understands them. However it is really sad that he has not been able to extrapolate from this experience of dealing with conflict on the island of Ireland, demonstrating the importance of long term conciliation and mediation efforts, to thinking internationally. Instead he is going with militarisation and so-called military ‘solutions’. He was going to take what he could get from this ‘forum process’ and the hope must be that this will be severely constrained by the challenges both to the process and the content which took place.

Louise Richardson also didn’t say it was deliberately not a citizens’ assembly – a format which now has established form in Ireland in dealing with difficult and contentious issues – because it would have given the ‘wrong’ answers so far as the Minister was concerned.

Peace and neutrality groups were working hard to point out the illegitimacy of the exercise, and hold alternative forums where the speakers and issues they wanted included were not excluded. But an intervention by Michael D Higgins, pushing at the boundaries of what it is acceptable for an Irish president to say, questioned the drift towards NATO and also raised questions about the credentials of the chair (he later withdrew some of these remarks). That greatly helped make the issue a hot potato. However he would never have felt constrained to make those remarks had the enterprise not been an underhand one to begin with. His comments thus served the interests of democracy.

One illustrative ironic twist took place during a Forum session on cyber threats and disinformation. A couple of contributors from the floor both pointed to the Forum itself as an exercise in disinformation due to the built in bias in the programme and speakers. Perhaps this fits the old adage of ‘the medium is the message’. You can easily find the list of speakers on the Department website and some analysis of speakers’ backgrounds is in The Phoenix issue for 30h June.

That is not to say that some participants in the Forum did not make a useful and even positive contribution on the issues involved. Some panels were less imbalanced than others and some had reasonably comprehensive discussion of the issues. But the topics dealt with, and the speakers chosen, as well as the chair who will write the report, were all hand picked by the Minister and staff acting on his direction. At no point was it stated by the Minister or the Department that inclusion in the speakers list was by Department of Foreign Affairs invitation only (which was the case). An INNATE offer to contribute unique content, on nonviolent civilian defence and on extending neutrality as part of security, was brushed aside. (See https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53003786126/in/dateposted/ with INNATE being prevented from putting these leaflets out for those attending at Dublin Castle). So a ‘Forum’ it was not.

Proponents of peace and neutrality faced a dilemma, to protest (possibly through a boycott) and/or be involved. In general people protested and were involved; a boycott, especially given the bias in the media, was likely to lead to invisibility. But making a point, or raising a question – which might not be answered or answered poorly – from the floor is not in any sense being properly included, it is being tolerated and patronised – especially when Micheál Martin congratulated everyone, including protesters, for their commitment on the issue. He might genuinely feel that way but certainly this was not the feeling for those on the other side of the NATO fence (Ireland is still a fellow traveller with NATO through its euphemistically named ‘Partnership for Peace’). And being involved in any way, even protesting inside the Forum, could be seen as legitimising it in that the organisers could then say “Look how tolerant we are, we even allow protest” (no they didn’t, anything they allowed was under sufferance, and numerous people were ejected from the chamber).

So the question of the legitimacy of the whole enterprise entered some of the media (e.g. The Irish Independent of 23/6/23 but not The Irish Times whose paper edition the same day, after the first session in Cork, held not one photo of protests and only a brief mention of protests themselves). And as usual the mass media did not cover the fact there were different protests and people or groups involved (see e.g. the text of https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52993125392/in/dateposted/ and compare that with mass media reports ).

While we must await the final report, written by Louise Richardson, there is no indication to date that she might not be the ‘safe pair of hands’ she would seem to be, the reason she was appointed by the Minister. The report should never, in any case, have been the responsibility of one person. While the question of the legitimacy of the whole enterprise has been raised successfully, it is still possible that the Minister will try to use the report as a means to get what he wants and the triple lock removed. This should be a real test of the integrity of deputies in the Dáil.

The Irish state should be looking at how neutrality could be extended as a real and vibrant force for peace in the world. That is the approach taken in INNATE’s written submission to the Forum, see https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv The world already has far too many countries armed to the teeth and acting in a belligerent and self-interested manner. Ireland has the opportunity to be different but the establishment choice is to join even closer the big boys with their guns. The metaphorical guns in the above affair were held by the Minister; the peace and neutrality sector, through mobilising and its nonviolent action, succeeded in at least disarming some of those weapons of mass distraction.

The struggle is not over.

See also the news section for links to further information, the article by Dominic Carroll in this issue, and INNATE’s photo album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408

Northern Ireland

Back to a different inefficiency

It is clear that Geoffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, wants to get back into Stormont and is drawing up his shopping lists. Here there is the danger that the British government, in giving the DUP and unionists the assurances they want about the place of Northern Ireland in the UK will actually breach the Good Friday Agreement. Meanwhile other prominent members of the party, such as Ian Paisley, are very much more reluctant, and that dynamic has to work itself out within the DUP itself.

In a cynical political move the British Secretary of State in the North, Chris Heaton-Harris, continues to make people suffer through swingeing cuts and the resultant instability in education, health, social service and community sectors as he weaponises the cuts to put pressure on the DUP to return to Stormont – of course that would be with a package which removes some of those cuts. People’s lives are thus a political football.

Assuming that Stormont does return in the autumn – and if it doesn’t there could be a lengthy period of direct rule by Britain – there are a myriad of issues on the table to be dealt with by Michelle (O’Neill), Geoffrey (Donaldson), the Executive and the whole Assembly. While we might hope for a good ‘run’ at and on the pressing issues of concern, if past history is anything to go by then ‘things’ will gradually run into the ground and another crisis emerge to stymie progress.

It is difficult to enumerate all the issues of concern in one editorial. There are systemic issues of governance and decision making. There are issues which are difficult to resolve (e.g. education) because of the nature of the sectarian division which then overlaps with divisions on a left/right, progressive/conservative axis. There is the sectarian division itself which creates difficulties in the provision of facilities and sometimes requires ‘double provision’ (one facility for mainly Protestants, and one for mainly Catholics). And there are big problems simply with the amount of money available from the British Exchequer, given that the home rule Assembly system is not responsible for taxation (but see below).

While it has been generally recognised that the system of decision making needs reformed, simply removing the necessity for the two largest parties on either side to be involved in the Executive will not eradicate the problems. If the largest party on one side can ‘pass’ (i.e. decline to be involved in the Executive) but others on the same side pick up the ball (and be in the Executive), that would largely eradicate the start-stop nature of the Assembly. But it would not deal with the difficulty which the parties have in arriving at good decision making.

This is where the decision making methodologies proposed and propounded by the de Borda Institute www.deborda.org should come into play. In effect these have built in consideration for minority viewpoints and are the fairest way of trying to arrive at a workable consensus or decision that all can live with. They do require political parties to act in a different manner, however, and this is only likely to come about through pressure from the public. It might at least give an impetus to effective decision making in areas where there was been sustained failure in the past.

While Stormont, if the Assembly is up and running, cannot replicate taxation raised by the UK government, there is nothing to stop it raising taxes that are different, such as a land use tax (e.g. a tax on land and property which is not being used productively aside from that which is clearly set aside for ecological purposes). And due to the lack of economies of scale in an area of 1.9 million people, and issues of poverty and ill health, some stemming from the Troubles, the ‘Barnett formula’ of funding for UK regions needs further tweaked to give Northern Ireland a fairer share of the UK cake – Wales has already succeeded in doing that.

Whatever the constitutional future for Northern Ireland, there are urgent issues which need sorted now. The reform of Stormont could be a vital tool in turning around an area where the majority of young people want to leave, a fact illustrative of the many problems which beset individuals and society and of the existing malaise. The Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Agreement give Northern Ireland some economic advantages which it is next to impossible to harness without a home rule government in place.

8 points from the Irish security policy forum

by Dominic Carroll, Cork Neutrality League

1. 
We’re not joining NATO.

It is now suggested that the government had NEVER contemplated NATO membership, and that defenders of neutrality are, inexplicably, crying “Wolf”.

Yet government politicians have repeatedly expressed enthusiasm for, at the very least, increased cooperation with NATO (stealth membership). In June 2022, Micheál Martin said Ireland does not need a referendum to join NATO. How else was this to be interpreted other than that the government was giving serious consideration to joining?

It is logical, then, that defenders of neutrality continue to take the rush/drift towards NATO seriously (in 2022 a rush, in 2023 a drift).

2.
Government assurances in advance of the forum (actually, admissions of defeat) regarding neutrality and NATO should have mollified supporters of neutrality, it is suggested. Numerous politicians and commentators have sought to portray/deride our continued objections and protests as illogical.

However, the objection to the forum remained valid. It provided a platform for a preponderance of securocrats and academics intent on extolling the benefits of NATO, with little formal opposition (i.e. platform speakers).

The forum was clearly designed to “deliver” for the government. Despite objections at the highest level (the presidency), the programme and selection of speakers remained unaltered. 

Opposition to the forum remained valid.

3.
The forum was not the beginning and end of the debate. 

The debate is being conducted across the media, within academia, among politicians and government departments (in Ireland, the EU, the US, etc.), among the public and (for four days only) in and around the forum. 

Numerous commentators, politicians and academics (not only from Ireland) have been egging Ireland on towards NATO membership. The Irish Times has been central to the debate, with an obvious bias in favour of anti-neutrality/pro-NATO contributors – e.g. Gay Mitchell was afforded numerous opportunities to persuade the readership of the Irish Times that Ireland should join NATO.

Prominent commentators in numerous other leading publications have chided Ireland for failing to step up militarily (e.g. “Ireland is Europe’s weakest link” and “Irish neutrality – complacent at the best of times – has now become untenable, and perhaps its politicians will finally resolve to do something about it”).

The neutrality movement was addressing ALL opponents of Irish neutrality, wherever they may be, when opposing the forum.

4.
Despite this, the government has been forced to declare/concede that we are NOT joining NATO. (For now.) And that we will continue to be neutral. (Until we cease to be neutral.) 

It is only logical that these government blandishments regarding neutrality and NATO (while they await developments in their favour) should be scorned.

5.
Government intentions with regard to Nato and neutrality have been thwarted by a recalcitrant public (61%), by the activities and discourse of pro-neutrality groups, by pro-neutrality scholarly discourse, and by opposition in the Oireachtas, by MEPs and by President Michael D. Higgins.
6.
We can’t be sure if Micheál Martin continues to hanker after NATO membership; perhaps it was just a dalliance in the heat of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (under pressure from EU/NATO securocrats), and perhaps he now accepts – all things considered – that it’s not on (apparently, many of his backbenchers are also of this view). But he is undoubtedly determined to do something about the Triple Lock and is fully committed to increased integration into EU defence arrangements. He is clearly no enthusiast for neutrality. 

7.
Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael clearly yearn for eventual NATO membership. This, they hope, can be achieved through salami tactics: first, tackle the Triple Lock; next – well, that depends – it might take years. Or perhaps the escalation of the war in Ukraine will suddenly make it seem like the sensible option to a majority of people.

8.
As to the forum, while it may not have backfired, exactly, it could be said to have misfired (because of the opposition to it). Dame Louise Richardson is still certain to deliver on the Triple Lock, and pro-neutrality campaign groups must now step up efforts to defend it. But if Dame Richardson is not inclined – perhaps, no longer inclined – to recommend the abandonment of neutrality and for Ireland to join NATO, the forum may fairly be judged a partial failure for the government. Equally, the pro-neutrality movement may fairly claim a considerable degree of success in undermining the forum. 

-
The email of Cork Neutrality League is corkneutralityleague@gmail.com and they have social media accounts as follows: Instagram www.instagram.com/corkneutralityleague  Facebook www.facebook.com/CorkLeague  Twitter  twitter.com/Cork_CNL_SNOW  (S’no joke, SNOW stands for Stay Neutral Oppose War).

Readings in Nonviolence: Nonviolent civilian defence and extending Irish neutrality

As stated elsewhere in this issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, under general instructions from the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, rejected INNATE making an oral presentation on nonviolent civilian defence and possibilities for extending Irish neutrality. While this was included in INNATE’s written submission to the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ it is quite clear that if you were not involved in presenting at the four days of oral hearings then your thoughts were unlikely to get attention.

But INNATE was in good company in being excluded. Dr Karen Devine, an academic and expert on modern Irish neutrality including the non-aligned, anti-imperialist and pro-disarmament policy of Fianna Fáil under Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken in the 1950s and 1960s, was, incredibly, omitted from the speaking roster. A ‘forum’ is defined as ‘a public space for open discussion’ so it was clear it was not a ‘forum’ in any meaningful sense – it was a long conference with all the content decided by the Minister and his civil servants who he would obviously have instructed as to what he wanted.

Anyway, below is the link for the 11-page INNATE submission, containing later on the sections on nonviolent civilian defence and extending Irish neutrality in a positive way. We used the term ‘nonviolent civilian defence’ in this context rather than the related term ‘social defence’ to be more comprehensible in the context of discussing geographical state security. We would prefer the term ‘social defence’ in general as a more progressive and less state-oriented term but we stand over everything in the submission.

The submission can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv

INNATE submission to Consultative Forum on International Security

To read INNATE’s 11-page submission to the Consultative Forum on International Security in the Republic, see https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv

It had not been the intention to publish this until the July issue of INNATE’s monthly publication Nonviolent News but due to publicity about the failure of the Department of Foreign Affairs to consider having an oral presentation on aspects of the submission – specifically nonviolent civilian defence and extending neutrality as a means of adding to Irish security, it is being published now.

Photos of the “People’s Forums” on neutrality and protests concerning the government “Consultative Forum” can be seen on the INNATE photo site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408

Editorials: Consultative Forum on International Security, Change and no change in the North

Consultative Forum on International Security

One move short of a complete stitch up

The meetings of the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy take place in Cork, Galway and Dublin later in June (see news section). As we have noted before, it is a ‘Consultative Forum’ (perhaps with the emphasis on the ‘Con’) rather than a citizens’ assembly (which had been mooted) because the government realised it would not get the result it wanted from the latter – i.e. it would deliver a strong pro-neutrality stance. Since citizens’ assemblies have been used by the government to look at different issues of importance this move is deeply cynical and anti-democratic.

While some of the heavy lifting of recent years against neutrality has been done by Simon Coveney of Fine Gael, it is highly ironic that the current attempt at decimation should be carried out by Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil. The latter party has traditionally been the one that was most for Irish independence and against imperialism and big power politics. But it is doubly ironic since Martin has spoken of how much he benefited from conciliation/communication work by Quaker House Belfast in getting to know and understand Northern unionists; it is clear he has not extrapolated from that to the need for such communication and understanding in the international sphere and this is truly sad, even tragic.

Incredibly, and this was a recent statement, before the deliberations of the Consultative Forum, Martin said there was an ‘emerging consensus’ for removing the ‘triple lock’ on deployment of Irish troops abroad; this let the cat out of the bag – insofar as it has been in any bag – on his intentions following the Forum Report. Yes, the United Nations needs reform, and particularly removing the veto power of permanent Security Council members, but simply removing the triple lock will allow the Irish government to send troops on NATO and EU military missions.

The government has decided the format and decided the content and speakers. While a few pro-neutrality speakers are likely to be included to avoid the impression of a complete whitewash it is clear that this is what it will be. In addition the chair, Louise Richardson, of Irish origin but now a citizen of the USA and, it would seem, supporter of that country’s policies, has been chosen as a safe pair of hands to deliver the result that the government wants. And after the report is delivered the government will move to remove the ‘triple lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas. And following that, there is the question of what is left of Irish neutrality, it is already a fellow traveller with NATO (including NATO exercises and meetings happening in Ireland) and enthusiastic supporter of the EU arms industry and of an EU army.

It is unfortunate that the Irish public, still expressing support for Irish neutrality, is generally unaware of the perilous or threadbare state that has been reached. This is due not only to government machinations (taking small steps, one at a time, while denying neutrality was at risk) but also, very significantly, to the media which has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for NATO and for Irish involvement in EU militarisation; generally it has avoided carrying pro-neutrality arguments and views. There are a very few exceptions to this rule such as The Phoenix which has continually cast a critical eye on Irish foreign policy.

However one bright point seems to be that Irish people can think for themselves. PANA’s poll on a ceasefire in Ukraine (see news section) shows the people of the Republic are very strongly supportive of a ceasefire to allow negotiations to happen, and are certainly not bursting to support ongoing warfare as some political leaders might think. This may indicate that (as all recent opinion polls have shown) neutrality is alive and well in the hearts of the people of Ireland even if not in most of their political leaders and the establishment.

The extremely stupid equation seems to be accepted by most media that to be a ‘good European’ you need to be a supporter of EU policies such as militarisation. And once the EU does finally evolve to superpower status you can be sure that it will throw its weight around like all the superpowers before it; that is written in the militarist DNA. As happens with the USA, military interventions may be dressed up in flowery language about protecting peace or extending democracy, defending the rights of women, protecting borders and so on, but it will be good old great power imperialism underneath it all.

StoP/Swords to Ploughshares Ireland wrote an open letter to Louise Richardson, the chair of the Consultative Forum, challenging her to be impartial but the whole setup is so skewed that even in the event that she did the result would still be biased against the views of most citizens of the Republic. The concluding paragraph of this letter reads; “We consider that the current model of a ‘consultative forum’, dispersed and repeated over several days, with no wider public consultation, is inadequate for effective democratic consideration of such large and complex issues. We are seriously concerned that the voice of those who support Irish neutrality as a positive force for peace and who oppose our increased integration into EU and NATO military structures will be effectively excluded from the Forum. It is up to yourself and the conduct of the Consultative Forum—especially in its eventual Report—to achieve more than an outcome predetermined by the Government. We hope that you will rise to the occasion.”

If you can participate in the Forums and the protests and alternative events, please do. If you can respond to the online questionnaire, please do (one response to the question of what the greatest danger is to Irish security is to answer “NATO and EU militarisation”). If you can submit your views further, please do. Go to www.gov.ie/consultativeforum

We are one step away from a total stitch up. That final step or stitch is likely to come with Louise Richardson’s report. And, while this is a rather large and perhaps grandiose sounding statement, that might be considered the day that Ireland finally lost its soul and any hint of global solidarity.

Northern Ireland

Change but no change in the North

The reality of the situation in Northern Ireland has not changed one jot after the recent elections there. As expected following the last NI Assembly elections, Sinn Féin became the largest party in local government. However the DUP maintained its vote and share of seats, with Jim Allister’s TUV only marginally eating into its vote. The North is not any less divided than it was on constitutional issues or the Northern Ireland Protocol and ‘Windsor’ Agreement.

Of course it is expected that the DUP will seek to find a face-saving way to come back in to the Assembly and Executive, though this time with Jeffrey Donaldson holding the (equally powerful but symbolically less prestigious) post of Deputy First Minister to Michelle O’Neill’s position as First Minister. As usual in such circumstances money will be part of making it happen – and it might even materialise unlike some instances in the past; the DUP will claim success on this front. It would seem the woeful economic situation in the North with quite drastic cuts on top of an already appalling situation is being used by Chris Heaton-Harris, the Secretary of State, as a tool of leverage. But it is people in need of health and social services who suffer.

The danger is that the British government will give the DUP ‘assurances’ about the position of Northern Ireland in relation to its membership of the United Kingdom which it is not its to give. The Good Friday Agreement is quite clear about the responsibilities of both governments and when a referendum on unification should take place based on a judgement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which is a rather subjective arrangement.

Influential unionist figure Jamie Bryson has recently argued in the News Letter https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/opinion/letters/jamie-bryson-the-constitutional-future-of-northern-ireland-should-be-a-matter-for-all-of-the-uk-not-just-ni-4161966 that any decision on constitutional change should either be taken on an all-UK basis or having majorities in Northern Ireland, the Republic, and Britain. Stating that “A state has a right to protect its territorial integrity”, as he does in this piece, might sound fine but pays no attention to the realities of Irish history and the colonisation of Ireland by Britain. The problem about such possibilities is that they fly in the face of the Good Friday Agreement (and other, prior, statements or arrangements such as the Downing Street Declaration). The DUP is desperate to save face with some UK government declaration about the position of Northern Ireland in the UK; the problem is that such declarations may also be contrary to the Good Friday Agreement, and make the situation worse and more intractable in the long run.

Arriving at the Good Friday Agreement was a tortuous process and “50% +1” determining a ‘United Kingdom’ or a ‘United Ireland’ is a very crude mechanism, far from ideal, but it is what is there. However what we have argued for before is that not only should there be a clear picture of what a united Ireland might entail – and that is for the government and people of the Republic to offer – but there would be a clear ‘road map’ of a process that would take place following a “50% +1” vote in favour of a united Ireland, and that this should include extensive consultation with unionists, nationalists and ‘neithers’ in the North.

That process following such a vote would be key to having a peaceful transition. It should certainly not be rushed but how long it would take, and what stages there would be, should be carefully outlined. The possibility of a continuation of Stormont as a regional assembly has had some recognition of its possibility south of the border and it might be an important part of assuring Northern unionists and loyalists that the were not going to be consumed into, devoured by, the current Irish state (the bogey man of ‘Rome rule’ has long gone). And the people of the Republic have a lot of thinking to do as to how to make a new state work and be acceptable to Northerners of all kinds, nationalist as well as unionist.

We are, however, nowhere near the situation of a border poll, or, indeed, if it was called a majority voting for Irish unity. There may now be a majority of Catholics (cultural Catholics that is) in the North but they too need to be persuaded that an all-island state is the best for everyone, including themselves. The old jest about loyalty to the half crown (when last used in 1971 this was a coin with purchasing value of more than a pound today) rather than the Crown is a pointer that economic considerations cannot be dismissed on either side.

And a relatively recent poll by the Belfast Telegraph told that a considerable majority of the current ‘neithers’ (identifying as neither unionist nor nationalists) would at the moment opt for the status quo. This could of course change, and, if the Republic outlined a process which was fair in terms of transition, and the likelihood of fast economic advancement, it could change quite rapidly.

The task for unionists, from their point of view, should not be looking for declarations from the British government and so on but be to make Northern Ireland such an attractive place for cultural Catholics that they too did not want to ‘forsake the blue skies of freedom for the grey mists of an Irish Republic’. Some wiser unionists realise this, but not necessarily how to go about it, and unionism as a whole is far from being aware of it. It remains to be seen whether unionism can actually make a real effort to make cultural Catholics and nationalists feel right at home; it requires a significant change of mindset.

Meanwhile there will be the issue of making Stormont work since its dysfunctionality is an inherent feature of how it does or does not do business and how it tries to decide on things. We have previously supported decision making methodologies promoted by the de Borda Institute www.deborda.org which are as inclusive as possible and advance the possibility of decisions actually being taken as opposed to impasses on various important issues including education. Whether and when the Assembly will make changes after it is back and running – as it may well be later in the year – remains to be seen.

The uncertainty regarding the economic future of things as they stand in the light of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the ‘facing both ways’ (UK and EU) nature of the economy, will take some time to be worked out. If Northern Ireland does prosper, and productivity per head is currently way below the Republic, it will be fascinating to see how this affects constitutional preferences. On the one hand fewer people in a prosperous North might wish to risk rocking the boat by joining with the Republic. However on the other hand if the North is no longer a major beneficiary of the British Exchequer, joining with the Republic becomes more possible economically even in the short term before any possible north-south development kicks in after a united Ireland.

In the longer term the UK is likely to seek a closer deal with the EU and that might mean, by the time any possibility of people voting for a united Ireland came around, that the North joining with the Republic would not risk the current advantage of ‘facing both ways’. However things are all to play for. The advantage of the ‘neithers’ having the casting vote is that it is up to both sides, unionist and nationalist, to be on their best behaviour and try to appeal to those outside of their ‘natural’ ethnic voting tribe. It is unlikely that all, or much, will be sweetness and light but that at least does give some hope that decision making may be made at least partly on logical and rational thought rather than simple tribal allegiance.