Tag Archives: Irish neutrality

Editorial: Neutrality – being the best we can be

Ireland faces a choice as to whether to be a small bit player in a militaristic EU/NATO alliance or to plough a perhaps sometimes lonely but much more fulfilling role as an active agent for peace in the world. But any loneliness would only be temporary because of the friends it would make – as it is, an Irish passport is one of the most acceptable around the world because of Ireland’s past positions and ‘soft power’. Those who think that NATO and the EU are agents bringing peace need to consider the process of 20th and 21st century history – and extrapolate from current EU stances to the EU becoming a bullying superpower on the world stage, similar to the USA, later in the 21st century (just look at the current role of Frontex). The development of the EEC/EU as a force for peace in Europe is well and truly lost in the past.

It is hard to establish exactly where the Irish government and establishment push for full military and foreign policy integration with NATO and the EU comes from. Wanting to be with the ‘big boys’ is certainly part of it. This editorial will, further on, give some quotations from Afri’s new “A force for good?” pamphlet on Irish neutrality. But we would go further and raise the question of whether this fixation stems partly from an inferiority complex, perhaps coming from Ireland’s colonial past. The revolutionary generation in the Free State/Republic had an emphasis, naturally enough, on anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism (Karen Devine’s contribution in the Afri pamphlet is a brilliant summary of the positive aspect of this in Frank Aiken’s thinking and action). But as EEC membership beckoned, neutrality became considered by some politicians as backward, regressive and not what was needed in Ireland – in a sense a ‘culchie’ option – making its way in a world dominated by the USA and a rich Europe.

In the Afri pamphlet, Iain Atack and Carol Fox do refer to the idea that to be ‘good Europeans’* has been part of the thinking in abandoning neutrality (along with other factors). But what does being a ‘good European’ mean? Supporting militarisation and the arms industry? Being uncritical of the development of the EU as a military superpower closely aligned with NATO?

With formerly neutral countries in Europe joining NATO, surely there is a greater need than ever before for Ireland to take a neutral and active stance for peace. It is simply nonsense to think that the only possible international role Ireland can play in the future is a small, even insignificant, member of a large military alliance. The promulgation of Irish neutrality goes back as far as Wolfe Tone. Eamon de Valera played a significant role in the League of Nations. As the Afri pamphlet points out, the drift to Irish EU foreign policy and military integration has led to relative neglect of the UN – and, we might add, perhaps a wasted role as a UN Security Council member. Ireland has played a significant part in the development of peace internationally. Current directions will lead to the total negation of that role and Ireland simply being another cog in a great western militarist machine. It is already happening – for ‘NATO in Ireland’ see https://www.thejournal.ie/irish-defence-forces-nato-evaluation-artillery-5927841-Nov2022/

There are many ways that Ireland can play a positive role in peacemaking in the future, all of which are either dependent on, or would have a contribution made by, Irish neutrality. Building up a skilled team of mediators for different levels of conflict is one such role, engaging before there are even ‘rumours of war’ or armed conflict. Engaging with different parties or governments before conflicts have got ‘hot’ is another related area of work. Pushing and working for the further development of international law in relation to war is a further area – and working to get existing laws implemented and respected. Nonviolent peacekeeping can be explored as well as Ireland’s well-established – and respected – role in military peacekeeping.

This is only scratching at the surface of what is possible, even for a small country like Ireland, and all could be achieved for a small fraction of the additional money which the country is going to spend on army and armaments – which is irrelevant to Ireland’s human and ecological security needs (see the video of the StoP webinar on this, mentioned in the news section). Our politicians and elite seem to suffer from a total failure of imagination and seek no more than being a very small cog in a very well-oiled, and destructive, military machine.

Now, on to a few quotes from Afri’s pamphlet (see news section in this issue). The title of Joe Murray’s Foreword says it all: “Ireland should be a voice for Demilitarisation, De-escalation and Disarmament in the World”. Karen Devine points out that “Ireland used her postcolonial identity and history to gain support from other UN members. A fiercely-guarded commitment to independence from big power pressures, facilitated by an equally strong commitment to neutrality, produced radical and far-reaching proposals for peace in central Europe. Frank Aiken’s formulae for peace are vitally relevant to resolving the Ukrainian situation today……”

Mairead Maguire is quite clear that “Contrary to its claims, NATO is not a defensive organization. Its purpose from the start has been to act as an instrument for US world domination and to prevent all challenges to US hegemony.” John Maguire meanwhile teases out what has been going on in Ireland: “The….strategy involved: Government denials at every stage that referendums were necessary; joining NATO/PNP without the manifesto-promised referendum;’reform’ of the Referendum Commission’s mandate, from presenting the arguments For and Against to magisterially pronouncing on ‘The Facts’ – and above all the blatant rejection of two legally binding referendum results, Nice 1 and Lisbon 1.” John Maguire also usefully uses the image of a funnel: “The abiding image is of a funnel; such debate as cannot be prevented is guided – if necessary, simply shoehorned – into an ever-narrowing channel; a travesty in what our constitution still confirms is a republic.”

In the Afri pamphlet, Tarak Kauff concludes his piece “Stand up Ireland, defend your neutrality. The global community needs you to do that.” Ireland may be a little island falling off the edge of Europe but Tarak Kauffman’s admonition shows that such a matter is of much greater significance. As peacemakers we can stand tall. As warmakers we will collude with, and hide under the coat tails of, the great powers, and contribute to the militarist mania infesting the world.

* INNATE’s printable poster on being ‘a good European’ can be found at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ under “Europe and World…[EW]”

Billy King: Rites Again, 304

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

Here is my pot-pourri for this month, or, given the content, perhaps my veggie hot pot…..[Or is it just you going to pot? – Ed]

Hopefully never taking off……

A considerable part of success in nonviolent action lies in creativity and imagination. Doing things differently, perhaps with humour or verve (not to mention nerve), can be vital. On the other hand repetition (e.g. walk ons at Shannon Airport) can also be symbolic, particularly where the potential cost to participants is high (legal charges lasting for years and the risk of a significant sentence in the case of Shannon walk ons).

But links are important too – what are the buttresses or pillars that hold up a particularly unjust policy? People around the world have been aghast at some of the goings on in British politics and policies, and none more than the dangerous and crazy, human rights destroying policy of exporting asylum seekers to Rwanda where they will be out of sight, out of mind – and probably driven out of their minds by being dumped thousands of miles away by a rich world system of screwing anybody unable to stand up freely for themselves – and a lot of those as well.

Lateral thinking on the ‘pillars of injustice’ front was what came to mind by news that an airline which had contracted to deport people from Britain to Rwanda had withdrawn. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/oct/21/airline-hired-uk-rwanda-deportations-pulls-out-privilege-style?CMP=share_btn_link

In this case, human rights and anti-torture activists, in opposing a woeful British government policy, put pressure not directly on the British government (which might be considered a bit of a lost cause, in more ways than one) but on a firm which had been willing (wiling?) to sell its soul to do the government’s bidding. Taking the anti-deportation case directly to bodies who do business with the firm and and other potential customers has succeeded; the firm realising that being a human rights destroyer was not a good image and likely to be detrimental to the business overall. So they have withdrawn. And hopefully that is a significant undermining of a British government policy that is inhuman, racist and a lot of other things beside.

So think laterally, and think of commercial pressure you can bring.

The home manager

The citizens of the Republic most likely face a referendum in 2023 on Article 41.2 of the Constitution which states “… the state recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” and “the state shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

There is more to this area than meets the eye. Of course this anachronistic and discriminatory piece in Bunreact na hÉireann should be obliterated and removed. But there are lots of issues herefamily, cultural, economic, human rights, and so on.

The term ‘housewife’ (a term not used in the Constitution) is also anachronistic. In the era of hybrid or remote working, many men are also in the home and it is up to a couple or the household to sort out who does what. Statistically women still do far more work in the home on housekeeping and child care than men but things have been changing even if equality may be some considerable distance away in heterosexual households.

If someone, woman or man – currently more likely to be a woman than a man – decides to stay at home to look after children and manage the home then that can be a Good Thing in terms of the family’s lifestyle and wellbeing. It is likely to lead to less pressure overall, and that can be good for all concerned, because combining paid work and looking after a home can be stressful. There are many tasks to be done about the home, especially with young children, including conveying them to pre-school or school, cleaning, washing, cooking and shopping, organising other eventualities such as doctors visits, play dates, and so on. There is a lot to be done.

Finance is an essential element in this. In many or most families today and in the recent past, if there are two adults then both may need to go ‘out’ to work to survive financially (today ‘out to work’ can mean paid work remotely at home), or they may prefer to do so. On the other hand if children are very young then creche fees may cancel out an adult’s pay. People can make their own decisions about what is possible and feels good for them and their family and it is right that people should have a choice without feeling constrained one way or another by norms and societal expectations. Making a statement in the Constitution about gender roles, except to support and promote gender equality, is inappropriate in 2023, whatever about 1937 (when the Constitution was first enacted). Providing adequate financially accessible support for pre-school children in creches where both parents work is a major issue in the Republic (and also in the North).

Finding a replacement for the term ‘housewife’ which is non-sexist and recognises the role a stay at home parent or a parent who does a significant amount of work in the home is a difficult one and it does not need to be in the Constitution. I would suggest the term ‘home manager’ – because that is what the role entails.

Taoiseach goes ballistic at the plain truth

He was raging. “Taoiseach Micheál Martin has angrily rejected an accusation that the Government is “cynically using Putin’s war to drive a coach and four through Ireland’s neutrality” https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2022/10/25/it-makes-my-blood-boil-taoiseach-rejects-accusation-the-government-is-using-putins-war-to-address-irelands-neutrality/

Oh no, he would never do that when it is as obvious as anything that is precisely what the three government parties (FF, FG and Greens) are doing and have been doing by both commission and omissionin alliance of course with others in elite circles including in the army and business. I am not saying they don’t want to do ‘right’ for Ukraine according to their views of what is ‘right’.

But hey, they didn’t need the excuse of the Ukraine war to support moving ever closer to EU and NATO militarism through Nice and Lisbon referenda, joining NATO’s so-called ‘Partnership for Peace’, and EU’s PESCO. The Ukraine war has been an added opportunity to get Ireland on board the militarist train.

But Martin let the cat out of the bag (or the missile out of the silo) in going on to say “I made it clear that we’re not joining Nato, that no government decision has been taken. People can have different perspectives on that. I suggest we have a citizen’s assembly in the fullness of time, but not now in the middle of this conflict, this war.” In other words it is clearly on the government agenda to move towards NATO membership and/or full EU-military participation, whatever proves possible; a citizens’ assembly would only be mooted if a change is desired. They just don’t judge the time to be the most opportune at the moment. If there was an open and accessible citizens’ assembly on the issue, as opposed to a government stitch up, then the peace movement and neutrality groups could face that eventuality with confidence as an opportunity to put their case. The political elite currently continually say ‘nothing to see here’ when their role has been to slowly whittle neutrality away until it is totally meaningless..

Frank Aiken, former Fianna Fáil Minister for External (i.e. Foreign) Affairs for 15 years in total in the 1950s and 1960s, and a stalwart campaigner for non-alignment and disarmament, would have something rather strong to say about the turncoat government of today and particularly his own party. How are the mighty peacemakers fallen.

Spicing it up

As some of you may remember [How could we forget?- Ed], I jump into matters culinary from time to time and have a wee publication on veggie and vegan cuisine to my name https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/ on this very site. [No one else would have published it? It sounds like you jumping from the frying pan into the oven – Ed] I am returning to this area of life because a request was made from a relation for suggestions about spicing up their cooking. Now I was wary of teaching my granny to boil a kettle (the vegan equivalent of teaching my granny to suck eggs…) and wanted to suggest fairly straightforward and easy ways to make meals more interesting. I thought it might be worth sharing a shorter and simpler version of what I shared with themsome suggestions are lacto-vegetarian and more are vegan. Bon appetit!

Using condiments: Try different pickles and sauces, perhaps from Asian/Chinese supermarkets; and there are some great Irish pickles and chutneys around that are well worth trying – or make your own;.use grated parmesan (or other grated or dried) cheese to put on top of stews and other food; use fried battered onion to add flavour and crunch on top of dishes (may be much cheaper in larger bags in Asian supermarkets); use nooch (nutritional yeast) as a topping (it is vegan), either plain nutritional yeast or mixed.

To make nooch ‘plant based parmesan equivalent’: Take 100 – 150g raw cashews, sunflowers or other nuts/seeds, 30 – 40g of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon garlic powder; salt to taste (needs very little, a sprinkle if you like, or none at all). Grind the mixture quite fine and keep in an airtight container, probably in the fridge. I am not sure I particularly like the US English word ‘nooch’ and think I would prefer something like ‘nuteast’ (a shortened word from ‘nutritional yeast’) but nooch it is.


– Use mashed potato as a topping to turn a bean. lentil or other dish/stew into “shepherd’s pie”. You can use flavourings in the mash as well as butter and milk (or olive oil and plant based milk) such as wasabi/horseradish.

– Use a crumble topping to turn a bean or vegetable mix into a vegetable crumble. Mix vegetable oil with wholemeal flour until like breadcrumbs but add whatever herbs, curry, cheese, nutritional yeast to flavour and add umami (richness). Cook in oven for c.20 minutes.

– Use breadcrumbs, again with herb or spice flavourings, cheese or nutritional yeast, as a topping on bean or vegetable mixes. Cook in oven for c.15 minutes.

– For a cheap highly nutritious addition to crumble or breadcrumb toppings, add ground linseed (I use a coffee grinder); grinding makes the linseed more digestible. Golden linseed look better than brown but the latter are much cheaper and equally nutritious and look little different when mixed. Whole linseeds are much cheaper to buy than ground.


– Roasted nuts or toasted seeds make an easy way to add a contrast, different taste (and protein). Lightly cover nuts in oil (a teaspoon or two and mix by hand) and lightly salt as desired; you can use a mixture of cashews and peanuts but cashews in particular can burn very easily so keep an eye on them, 15 minutes is probably plenty in the oven.

– Sunflower seeds can be dry toasted on a heavy pan over a low to medium heat, stirring and shaking frequently to see they don’t burn. When golden brown slope than pan so they bunch up and cover lightly with soya sauce and stir; the soya sauce will dry fast and as the salt is on the outside you get more taste for less sodium.

– Easy ‘sweet and sour’ sauce’; mix together tomato ketchup and half that volume of cider vinegar and less again of soya sauce; add water to double the volume and a small amount of sugar. Heat and add cornflour in water to thicken, stirring well, it will darken as it thickens, add more water if too thick.

And some fairly easy dishes:


Sauté onion and kale (or cabbage) in oil until cooked (you can use uncooked scallions instead of the onion) and mix with mashed potato which has plenty of butter or oil and milk (plant based if desired) added, and seasoning such as black pepper. It’s as Irish as champ.

Vegetable crumble

Sauté chopped veg until nearly cooked. Add parsley sauce or a tin of condensed soup. Top with crumble mix and cook in oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Sesame fried cabbage

Sauté chopped cabbage or kale in toasted sesame oil and add sesame seeds, add more oil or a little bit of water if starting to burn – cook on medium heat, covered most of the time.

Nan bread pizza

Lightly sauté whatever ingredients you would like for the topping – onion, garlic, chilli, finely cut other veg such as broccoli, peppers etc. Cover nan bread with tomato puree and add sautéed veg on top. Cover with cheese or nutritional yeast/nooch and grill as desired.


Add a jar of pesto to cooked pasta along with olives and/or dried tomatoes chopped, possibly tofu cubes, and/or anything else you fancy.

Gram (chick pea) flour

Make savoury pancakes with sieved gram flour (sieve or have lots of lumps) with chopped rosemary and other flavourings (e.g. curry, cajun spice, bouillon) and water. You can add bread soda if desired to help make the pancakes rise/be lighter but just adding water makes the batter, and for vegans – and coeliacs – that is obviously a better batter. Gram flour is also the basis of bhajis and pakoras.

Additions to stews etc: Try different flavourings including wasabi (horseradish), cajun spice and Marmite (yeast extract, other brands may be available); add nutritional yeast (flakes) for umami; try different soup stocks and bouillon powder (but go for ‘Reduced salt’ or ‘Low salt ’versions if you can because others can be very very salty); use coconut milk or (it’s cheaper) creamed coconut (blocks) to give things a different ‘east Asian’ flavour and umami; if roasting potatoes, add a mix of paprika and chilli (or other flavourings such as cajun spice) sprinkled over the oiled potatoes. Or do ‘roasted roots’ (e.g. carrot, parsnip, beetroot, onion as well as potato).

Only slaggin’

I can’t remember what it was in but the late Frank Kelly had an audio skit where he was an Irish reporter for the BBC describing the Irish sport of “slaggin’”. While much of slagging is not in strict accord with nonviolent communication, and can be rude and crude, it depends on the spirit it is offered and the spirit it is received, it can be good natured…..and it is obviously easier to be on the issuing end of slagging than the receiving end. It can be difficult, however, requiring considerable skill, to be a nonviolent slagger. And it can indeed be cruel if the slagee (person being slagged, I think I just invented a word….) takes great offence. However in Frank Kelly’s sport report it is dynamic in that the slagee comes back at the original slagger and so it goes on.

In the following thread referred to there are many instances where someone never wore a garment again after a particularly effective jibe, but there are some brilliantly innovative comments made on the spur of the moment. Indeed slagging seems to be an Irish sport, and that has minuses as well as pluses, though as a sport it is preferable to plain hurling abuse.

However you would want to have a stone sense of humour not to laugh at some of the thread about comments made to people about what they wore (and other comments) at https://twitter.com/janky_jane/status/1426981976142123010?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Sometimes people have been marked by a nickname for life after one evening or day’s sartorial incident. Many of these tales are shared by the slagee themselves. There are other major questions about Twitter with its recent elongated musky smell [Now that is really slaggin’ – Ed] – that it is likely to become even more tolerant of intolerance and hate speech, but we are not [the royal ‘we’? – Ed] exploring that here.

Not all comments on this thread are perceived sartorial misdemeanors one was about the son of a guy named Con Kearney who got called Chilli. But on clothing:

– “I wore a suit with a matching tie and pocket square to my first day of work at an advertising company (I thought I was going to be in Mad Men I guess) and the staff sent around and signed a communion card for me with a fiver in it.

– “I once wore a silver jacket to college, turned up late for class, said ‘sorry I’m late’, lecturer said, ‘that’s ok’ then waited til I was halfway across the front of the full class before following up with ‘trouble with the spaceship again was it?’. “

– “Early 90s Omagh, bloke comes into the bar wearing a puffa jacket, 120 notes it cost, everyone is mocking him, barman says ‘not sure why you’re mocking him I’ve one of those at home…’ lad getting mocked “See?” Barman continues ‘aye its round the immersion heater’ uproar

– “Back in Dublin after travelling S. America, decked out in a visually assaulting combo of zebra print leggings and tiger pattern knee high boots. Queuing into well known Dublin nightclub that evening was asked “Did you get let out of Dublin zoo or make a break for it yourself?”

Slagging can consist of severe and cruel put downs which are rather unfair to anyone on the receiving end but that is at its most negative. It’s not about slagging as such but put downs when I once get in trouble with someone well known on the peace scene for accompanying their article on affirmation in school situations with a word bubble cartoon. In that the teacher says “Can you give me an example of a ‘put up’ instead of a ‘put down’?” Reply: “How do I ‘put up’ with you?!”. Fair or unfair satire and humour? You judge. To me it was attempt to make the article lighter and therefore more accessible.

One time I felt justified in a bit of slagging was when someone arrived late for a committee where I was the paid secretary. He was an intelligent and useful but verbose participant who was known to arrive late from and/or leave early for another ‘important engagement’. He had just retired but continued his position on the committee concerned. As he came in rather late I said “I’m glad to see retirement hasn’t changed you….”. I got away with it and they didn’t sack me for it either (the sacking came later for other reasons….)

Well, if you are a soap fan you haven’t needed to look further than UK politics in the last couple of months for on the edge of your seat excitement and ‘follow-uppers’. In politics, boring can be good but with a near-billionaire now in charge in the UK, what could go wrong????? The UK economy on the wane isn’t good news for De Nort but as Larry Speight puts it eloquently in this issue, it’s a fairy tale to think the pie can keep getting bigger, and that’s still a fable that most people in most places believe in, including Ireland. When will the reality kick in that redistribution of wealth, along with a different lifestyle, is part of the answer? For a free printable A4 poster on this see https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ and scroll to “Economic Justice…[EJ]”

In the Northern hemisphere we are now approaching the Real Winter which may not be much fun for many people. So I hope you can stay warm and stay warm-hearted, until we meet again, I know where and I know when (the December issue), I remain, Yours truly, Billy.

Editorials: Depressing, distressing support for violence

Northern Ireland

Depressing, distressing support for violence

Northern Ireland is one of the most surveyed and polled parts of the universe. Sometimes there are glimmers of hope, and indications that the North is travelling away from sectarianism and violence. At other times the results are thoroughly depressing. Some polling which came out in August fits into this latter category and makes us realise how very far those in the North have yet to travel. When Michelle O’Neill, northern leader of Sinn Féin, said the IRA had no alternative to armed struggle in the Troubles that set up considerable comment and debate with unionists and many others naturally questioning her logic.

However the most depressing point was not that she said it but the acceptance of what she said in the Catholic/nationalist part of the community. Sinn Féin strategy in exiting armed struggle and moving forward politically has consistently been to justify IRA actions in general (regretting a few in particular) in order to take people with them, and this has had considerable success. Michelle O’Neill said in a BBC interview “I think at the time there was no alternative, but now, thankfully, we have an alternative to conflict and that’s the Good Friday agreement.” However she also said ““My narrative is a very different one to someone who’s perhaps lost a loved one at the hands of republicans. But we need to be mature enough to be able to say that’s OK, we’ll have to agree to differ on that one, but let’s make sure that the conditions never exist again that we find ourselves in that scenario.” And yet politics in the North frequently looks like the continuation of war by other means.

It subsequently came out “In a LucidTalk opinion poll for the Belfast Telegraph, 69% of those in the nationalist and republican community believe “violent resistance to British rule during the Troubles” was the only option, with just 25% disagreeing……Three-quarters of young voters support Ms O’Neill’s position. Surprisingly, so too do almost six in 10 over-45s. ….” https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/seven-in-10-nationalists-agree-with-michelle-oneill-that-there-was-no-alternative-to-iras-campaign-of-violence-new-poll-reveals-41924287.html

The take on all this which INNATE has had is that of course there was a nonviolent alternative to armed struggle and violent action by all sides but that generally those supporting such violence did not see the alternative, or thought it to be likely less effective. This of course was false but it was what most people, on all sides, believed. Northern Ireland could have arrived at political accommodation through nonviolent action which would have prevented the terrible destruction of lives and bitterness which came through the Troubles, and this might have set up higher chances of political agreement on an ongoing basis than exists today with a functioning Stormont being an intermittent feature of political life.

However the argument that nonviolent action is more effective than violent, and it not just being a question of ethics, is not something which even today holds sway in general. Something like Chenoweth and Stephan’s analysis of the effectiveness of nonviolent struggle compared to violent is not widely known, and the possibilities of nonviolence are largely ignored. Laying the blame for this lack of awareness falls at the feet of the peace movement as much as anyone else.

But it is also the case that in the North the story of those who consistently opposed violence on all sides have not been taken into account. INNATE has argued that the role of all parts of civil society in the Troubles and its seeking to oppose and overcome violence – including trade unions, churches, community groups, women’s groups, peace and reconciliation groups etc – has not been properly documented. We have gone on to say that the failure to do so, to document the challenge to violence which civic society groups made during the Troubles – would play into the hands of paramilitaries and the state who justified their own violent reactions. Our prophecy has, tragically, been proved to be true in this recent reflection on Catholic/nationalist views.

However it would be naive to think that it is only Catholics have not come to terms with what peace means. Loyalist paramilitaries have continued to exist in a way that republican ones do not. And the threat from either has not gone away. However on the unionist side of the house, and among those in general who have supported the British state, there has tended to be support for wars that the UK has fought internationally, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have resulted in far greater destruction, death and misery than any IRA or other paramilitary campaigns in Northern Ireland or elsewhere. Those who believe in nonviolence do not go for the myth of state backing justifying violence, nor that a death somewhere distant abroad is any less significant or important than a death at home in the grand scale of things, even though a local death may impact on us in a way that a distant death does not – but for those close to that death distant from us, that is what impacts them, and not a death here.

The significance of all this is that it is not just Northern Catholics/Nationalists who have supported the use of violence who may go on to support violence in the future, should the conditions be judged to be appropriate, but the majority on all sides. It might have been hoped that the inhabitants of the North and their descendents, given the experience that people passed through, might have realised that violence was counter-productive and nonviolence was a far better way forward. It seems that few have come to that conclusion.

The task before us is to educate people in, and allow them to experience, the power of nonviolence. That is a huge task. We invite you to participate in that and contribute to that work, in whatever way you can. But it is both depressing and distressing that so many should have gone through so much but learnt so little. We say that not from a sense of superiority, that ‘we have the truth’, but a sense of failure on our part and a sense of the enormity of the task.


Depressing, distressing support for violence

The ongoing elimination of Irish neutrality continues, engineered in an underhand way by the ruling political parties in the Republic. Bit by bit, slice by slice, the political elite (not just politicians but also others including an incipient military-industrial complex, and some in the military) has been desiccating and destroying neutrality while all the time denying what they have been doing. There is a huge contrast between the fearless and principled non-aligned stance of the Irish state of old, for example under Frank Aiken as minister for foreign (‘External’) affairs, in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties (and Fianna Fáil’s anti-imperialist stance at the time) and the current craven attitude of most of the political parties who can’t wait to be a full member of the emerging EU superstate and its wider military ally, NATO.

An active neutrality on the part of the Irish state, allied with military peacekeeping (of which most Irish people are proud) has been a distinctive part of Irish identity. This is being lost and sold down the river. As peace and nonviolent activists we would strongly support Irish neutrality because the alternative is being either a fellow traveller with, or, as is increasingly becoming likely, a full blown member of the nuclear-armed and confrontationist NATO cabal. And the EU itself is increasingly militarised; it will become another global neo-imperialist player as the 21st century progresses. If things continue on the current track, Ireland will be a fully paid up supporter of violence internationally which will undoubtedly be unleashed by the EU in times to come.

One recent manifestation of this has been the backing by Ireland of military training by the EU for the Ukrainian army. According to the Irish Times of 30/8/22, “Minister for Defence Simon Coveney called the agreement to establish an EU training mission the “next phase of military support” for Ukraine in its fight against Russia. He said Ireland “would like to be involved” and would provide practical support for the mission.” Here again we see the political elite using the war in Ukraine to push back boundaries on Irish action. Peacemaking? No. Peacekeeping? No. Is it supporting the pacific resolution of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination, as in the Irish constitution? No. Warmaking? Yes.

Polls have consistently shown considerable Irish support for neutrality. However an online poll conducted in June-July raised major questions about this, showing approximately even numbers for and against joining NATO (52% for, 48% against) but a slight majority (54%) in favour of joining an EU army rather than NATO. https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2022/08/28/public-divided-on-nato-membership-new-poll-shows/ Paradoxically this poll still said “Six in 10 people said Ireland remaining neutral was important to them but just 42 per cent said it would keep the country safe in the event of global war.” However this begs the question of what questions were asked for the poll; what would keep the country safe in the event of global war?????? However the question is relevant of what would keep the country safest.

It would seem that a majority of the Irish public is attached to neutrality but is unaware of what this entails, or could entail. This is perhaps hardly surprising since Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael (in particular), Labour, and the Greens have done such a good job, from their point of view, of obfuscating issues and trying to ditch it by stages. The above mentioned poll showed Sinn Féin supporters were divided on neutrality so if they come to be the major party in a government after the next election it depends whether their politicians have the courage to chart an Aiken-esque path or keel over and join the imperialists.

With no party championing neutrality and what it can entail it is perhaps not surprising that we have arrived at this sorry state, post-Nice, post-Lisbon, post-’Partnership for Peace’ (sic), post-PESCO. The sad, sad fact is that as Sweden and Finland join NATO there is more than ever the need for a neutral voice or voices to call and work for peaceful resolution of conflicts – as the Irish constitution advocates and stipulates. There is a crying need for the vision of peace, of non-alignment, which Ireland has previously supported, and taking this into the 21st century.

Joining the rich man’s (sic) military club may feel like belonging for many politicians and others but it will be done at great cost, and great opportunity cost. No longer will Ireland be able, even if it wanted to, to offer a critical view of western neo-imperialism, forthcoming EU military manoeuvres, or NATO’s brutal and wrong-headed foreign wars. The motto will be ‘Blessed are the warmakers for they desperately want to be on the winning side, whatever the cost’.

– – – – –

Editorials: Irish neutrality under attack, Not following Protocol, Ukraine war of attrition

Irish neutrality under sustained direct attack

Naomi Klein in her book “The Shock Doctrine” details how capitalism can use economic and political crises, of whatever cause, as a means to extend its grip on society and overcome democratic norms and control. In the same way the exponents of ditching Irish neutrality have been using the war in Ukraine as a means to leverage Ireland (the Republic) towards NATO and a fully fledged EU army, and attempting to circumvent Irish popular opinion.

This is despite the fact that there is no threat to Ireland from anyone and that some Irish policies associated with neutrality have been an important contribution to peace in Europe and the world. The idea that because Ireland is a ‘good’ member of the EU that it should contribute militarily is a non sequitur; it can be strongly argued that the EU surge to militarism is precisely a reason why Ireland should resist, stand back, and make a very different and peaceful contribution rather than adding a few cents worth of militarism (metaphorically speaking – PESCO entails a massive increase in Irish military spending at a time when the climate crisis demands immediate action and massive expenditure, and domestic issues like housing in the Dublin area need considerable resources to fix). But issues of ‘human security’ tend to lose out to perceived ‘military security’ which is a chimera.

The move to ditch Irish neutrality is nothing new. It has been going on before and since Ireland joined what was then the EEC in 1972. It has gradually built momentum through Nice and Lisbon treaties, through involvement in NATO’s ‘Partnership for Peace’ (sic or sick?), and joining PESCO. At each stage the government and Irish political elite have said ‘Nothing to see here – Irish neutrality is safe’ as they lied through their teeth.

Now, however, with the war on Ukraine there has been the perceived opportunity to come out openly to speak about joining NATO or being fully integrated in EU militarism – and since the EU is increasingly becoming the European arm of NATO, there is very little distinction. There is the usually unexpressed feeling or impression that EU military power would be used ‘constructively’. There is no evidence for this and much evidence against it if you look at the history of the larger military powers involved (or, in the case of Britain, who have been involved and still very much part of NATO). European state backing for the USA’s military escapades, and the ‘Fortress Europe’ approach to borders now adopted by the EU, do not augur well; nor does the ‘European Defence Fund’ or other moves to back the arms industry and develop a unified EU military structure (army).

Once a military empire is established then that power will be used for its own interests. We have spoken before about how the EU will, on current projections, become a player in resource wars later in the 21st century. Of course it will all be wrapped up in verbiage about humanitarian intervention and “we have to intervene” but it will be a revamped empire (including the former imperial powers) flexing its military muscle.

There is also the unspoken idea that EU military developments is part of internationalism. It is not. It is supranationalism, the creation of a new supranational unit which is likely to act as an empire just as much as the USA has in the past or may in the future. Internationalism is a concern for, and engagement with, the whole world and its institutions such as the United Nations. Many EU developments, economically and militarily, are the antithesis of internationalism.

The moves away from Irish neutrality have been spearheaded (sic) by Fine Gael and fully backed by Fianna Fáil. Parties such as the Greens have not stood up for what they might supposedly have believed in. Whether a Sinn Féin led government, presuming such comes to pass after the next election in the Republic, fully stands up for neutrality remains to be seen but it is to be hoped that it would. Some other influential parts of civil society and the military have also been keen on developing EU/NATO militarism.

Seán and Seánín Citizen, however, have had other views. Polls have consistently shown popular support for neutrality has been strong, and maintained even after the Russian war on Ukraine. The citizens have, however, been taken in by protestations by the political elite that each step taken away from meaningful neutrality and in step with EU militarism has not affected Irish neutrality. Clearly it has. And now that Ireland has moved closer to EU and NATO militarism the question of NATO membership is openly raised.

Micheál Martin spoke recently about a ‘constitutional assembly’ which may be a much more limited and circumscribed affair which will be designed to give the nod to joining an EU army in full; this term, ‘constitutional assembly’, is a new one to emerge which may indicate an attempt to fix the debate. See https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2022/05/29/taoiseach-expects-constitutional-assembly-on-irish-neutrality/

Martin subsequently said that a referendum would not be necessary before joining NATO: “We need to reflect on military non-alignment in Ireland and our military neutrality. We are not politically neutral. We don’t need a referendum to join Nato. That’s a policy decision of government.” This view or eventuality is a very worrying one,

He went on that “We would need a referendum to join a European Union defence pact, if one was formally developed and declared, because there are provisions in our constitution that would demand such a referendum.” https://www.irishtimes.com/world/europe/2022/06/08/ireland-would-not-need-referendum-to-join-nato-says-taoiseach/

Can the Irish public finally make a stand against the encroachment of NATO and EU militarism on Irish neutrality? Can the final ‘neutralising’ (annihilation) of Irish neutrality be avoided? Will the Irish government succeed in its mission (and it is seen as a mission by them) to become a full part of western militarism? We have a lot of work to do, and a lot of conscientisation to engage in. Don’t just watch this space – engage.

If there is a level playing field and opportunity to put forward the arguments for peace and a meaningful neutrality then there is a lot of hope that the argument could be won by the forces for peace, and that the drift to militarism could finally be halted and reversed. But the government and forces working for militarism are not keen to give the people a meaningful say, or, if they have to, they will obfuscate the issues as much as possible. Navigating the dangers ahead is perilous but if we don’t then we face far greater dangers in the future – to which we will be making a negative contribution.

Not following Protocol

We may be repeating ourselves here somewhat, but who would have believed that a century and a half after ‘the Irish question’ came to dominate British politics that ‘the Irish question (post-Brexit)’ would still be a prominent theme in Westminster and the parliament there. The British government negotiating with itself in its proposals for dealing with the Northern Ireland Protocol, an internationally agreed treaty, is a fascinating spectacle of the ruling elite in a country not only losing their marbles but blowing up the drain to find them (cf “Wee Willie’s lost his marley” https://www.itma.ie/dustybluebells/explore/counting-and-skipping/wee-willie-lost-his-marley ). The British government’s contempt for Northern Ireland is clearly shown in its legacy proposals which are supported by no substantial bodies of any kind in Ireland., North or South.

The British government protests that it is doing what it is doing in relation to the Protocol is to protect the Good Friday Agreement and restore power sharing. The DUP meanwhile, having pragmatically shifted to full on opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol for which they were partly responsible, gives no guarantees for when they will engage at Stormont and never formally backed the Good Friday Agreement anyway which they vehemently opposed in 1998. The fact that an arithmetic majority of MLAs in the NI Assembly back the Protocol, as it can and should be amended by agreement, does not seem to have impinged on the British government who again – having previously done a deal with the DUP to stay in power – are acting in the interests of one particular section in the North. But, of course, the most reprehensible and irresponsible aspect of all this is the British government using Northern Ireland for its own political purposes.

In addition, it is clear that an increasing majority of people in Northern Ireland do not want the Protocol ditched but do want it amended, and do not support opposition to the Protocol as a reason for opposing powersharing at Stormont. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/majority-of-ni-voters-are-in-favour-of-the-protocol-poll-41800239.html

There are important issues to be dealt with regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol. There may also be the possibility to involve Northern politicians in the UK-EU structures dealing with the Protocol, to resolve the question of a ‘democratic deficit’ on the issue. Of course unionists have every right to be concerned. The EU could also be more flexible but the British government has positively discouraged this by its intransigence. The British government does not seem to have read any negotiation manuals which state clearly that trust is an important part of fair and principled negotiation. In unprincipled negotiation however you can negotiate with yourself and lie through your teeth.

Ways need to be found to assuage the anxiety of unionists but some unionist leaders act as if they still ‘own’ Northern Ireland. It was ‘their’ British government which signed a binding international agreement with the EU. British rule still exists in Northern Ireland, it remains part of the United Kingdom and the alternatives to a limited ‘Irish Sea border’ have even less to recommend them. A ‘hard border’ between the Six and Twenty-Six counties would be dangerous and even more inconvenient to ordinary people and a border between the Republic and the EU is not going to be acceptable to the Republic which had no hand in deciding that the UK would leave the EU.

The Northern Ireland Protocol has problems and opportunities; negotiation and full cooperation is the way to minimise the problems and maximise the opportunities. In what is partly an argument between unionist-leaning and nationalist-leaning economists and analysts about the effects of the Protocol on the Northern economy it is still too early to be certain but the pudding will be well cooked in a year or three and it can be properly tasted and tested then. As with most changes, some people win and some people lose. The continuation of the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol debacle in its current form means everyone loses except Boris Johnson and his band of blustering Brexiteers, and unionists and loyalists in the North who thrive on strife.

A war of attrition

The war in or on Ukraine continues unabated. It is now a war of attrition in the east of the country with Russia slowly gaining ground, at vast human and financial cost to all concerned. Both sides carefully guard information about what is actually happening, and we mainly get pro-Ukrainian views in Ireland but Ukraine could be losing up to 200 soldiers a day, that is 200 soldiers killed and many more wounded. Whether Russia will open up new military fronts elsewhere in Ukraine remains uncertain though it looks like they will continue to hit civilian targets anywhere.

Russia’s losses, meanwhile, in a few months have well overtaken those in their decade long occupation of Afghanistan (15,000 plus), and will also overtake the USA’s military losses in Vietnam at around 50,000 deaths (the Vietnam war was very asymmetric in terms of losses with millions of lives lost in Vietnam itself and neighbouring countries due to US carpet bombing).

Wars are easy to start and difficult to end, certainly to get ‘wrapped up’, as was discovered in the western military debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. The hopelessness of a war of attrition is a pitiful thing. The trauma and lasting effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will, whatever the outcome, last for generations. And if Russia succeeds in annexing much of the east of the country then it will be a lasting grievance for Ukraine; if Ukraine manages to retake some or all of their territory, thanks to western armaments, the human cost will still be catastrophic.

We have previously spoken about nonviolent civilian resistance or defence in relation to Ukraine (and Ireland) – see https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/ and editorials. This would entail a struggle with a different trajectory and time frame; it would mean the struggle continuing but without the current loss of life and destruction of infrastructure. People often accuse those believing in nonviolence or pacifism of being simplistic and defeatist; when we see the human cost and trauma of the war in Ukraine, we wonder if it is the believers in militarism who are being simplistic. There is no end to the war in sight. Putin, having made a monumental mistake in invading Ukraine, dare not admit he was totally mistaken by settling for less than what he can proclaim as ‘victory’. And NATO will fight to the last drop of Ukrainian blood.

Readings in Nonviolence: Irish neutrality – What path are we on?

By Elizabeth Cullen


This paper will discuss the implications of Ireland’s involvement in EU related military activities and discuss an alternative, namely the adoption of an independent foreign policy. Ireland joined the European Economic Community, or “Common Market” as it was referred to then, in 1973 along with the UK and Denmark. At that stage the EEC was portrayed to Irish voters as a large market and the benefits to Ireland of being a part of it were extolled for both farmers and industrialists, who were expected to benefit from the demands of a large European market. The prospect of high farm prices, increased farm exports and higher employment was a big economic attraction of EEC membership, and the entire country was expected to prosper as a result of joining the EEC. However, the story did not unfold as many had expected. This paper relates to the impact on our military policy

Militarism and the EU

There has been a steady but silent progression to participation in military alliances. The Single European Act of 1987 referred to cooperation in a supra-national foreign policy (*1) and the more recent Lisbon Treaty in 2009 led to the “progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence” and thereby the foundation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy6 (*6) It is of concern that unlike Ireland, Denmark obtained an exclusion from participation in military issues before signing this Treaty. A common defence is an army. Ireland joined the European Defence Agency (EDA) six years later. (*2) This agency, established by the Lisbon Treaty, supports the weapons industry. Total spending by the EDA was 198 billion euros in 2020, “the highest level ever recorded” since the EDA records began in 2006. (*3)

There have been two more recent developments in our military related activities, namely PESCO and EU Battle groups. We joined PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) in 2017. PESCO was established by the EU Commission and arose from the Lisbon Treaty and was developed by a policy group known as the “Group of Personalities” (*4). This group included arms industrialists intent on finding ways for EU Governments to navigate around national sovereignty and neutrality clauses in order to foster greater EU military integration (*12).

In December 2017 after just a 2-hour debate in the Dáil, members voted 75 to 42 in favour of Ireland signing up to PESCO (*5). PESCO aims to establish an EU-wide arms industry, and the EU’s European Defence Agency will tell PESCO members, including Ireland, what weapons to buy (*6). Lobbying by the arms industry is shaping the European Union’s approach to security and defence (*7). We also committed ourselves to spending 20% of our total defence budget on military equipment and research (*12). The commitments made by countries under PESCO are legally binding in nature (*8) and include commitments:

– To regularly increase defence budgets in real terms,

– To increase defence expenditure in order to fill “strategic capability gaps”

– To aim for a “fast-tracked political commitment at national level, including possibly reviewing their national decision-making procedures”

– To simplify and standardise cross border military transport in Europe for enabling rapid deployment of military materiel and personnel

– To ensure that all projects “make the European defence industry more competitive via an appropriate industrial policy which avoids unnecessary overlap

– To commit to “agree on common technical and operational standards of forces acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO”

In relation to the last point, regarding “interoperability” with NATO, the EU and NATO signed the second joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation in July 2018 (*9). After this meeting NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg stated: “We just finished a fruitful meeting on NATO-EU cooperation. Over the past two years we have achieved unprecedented levels of cooperation and we have been working together in 74 concrete areas.” (*10) The summit characterised the EU as a “unique and essential partner for NATO,” and agreed that the capabilities developed under PESCO would be available to NATO and be “complementary and interoperable’(*18). Alongside conventional and missile defence forces, nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence (*11).

According to our Irish National Development Plan, spending on defence capital projects will increase from €77m in 2018 to €125m in 2022 (*12). Annual assessments will be conducted by the “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy” (a position created by the Lisbon Treaty) (*13) to ensure that Ireland is honouring these commitments. The Lisbon Treaty does not ban weapons of mass destruction and it does not demand that military operations will only be in self-defence or when there is a UN mandate. (*14)

The move to militarism is clear and this is acknowledged by the European Union External Action department, the EU’s diplomatic service (*15),which states that “Collectively, Europe is a very large military spender. But it is far from being a large military power. This is because of inefficiencies in spending and the so far largely untapped potential of working together on planning, procurement or research, to name but a few of the issues” (*16).

This level of ignorance among EU citizens about the EU’s CSDP and PESCO is concerning; only 12% of European citizens claim to be aware of the mutual defence clause and to know what it is. (*14)

An independent foreign policy

The long-standing government definition of so-called “military neutrality” as “non-participation in military alliances” has been described as nonsensical in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty ratification (*17). Can we be reassured by Leo Varadkar’s statement in 2018 that “We are not going to be buying aircraft carriers; we are not going to be buying fighter jets; and we are not going to be shopping around military trade fairs.”? (*20)

Despite Varadkar’s assurance, Ireland’s neutral or independent foreign policy is seriously at risk. Professor John Maguire writes (*18), “let us look at the list of “nothing-to-see-here”: with Irish government acquiescence we have yielded an EU Common Defence Fund; a joint EU military HQ; EU Battle Groups (in which Ireland participates); a centralised EU military budget and research programme, and a European Defence Agency (on whose board Ireland sits) promoting ‘a single market for defence’. And of course everyone signed up to PESCO gets a CARD: Co-ordinated Annual Review of Defence”. In Operation Sophia, which Ireland joined in 2015, 25 EU states combined to return refugees to the hell they have just attempted to escape; Minister Paul Kehoe explained to the Dáil that Ireland was now participating in “a military mission”. (*26)

A further four statements illustrate the intention of the EU to militarize:

– In 2000, Romano Prodi (then president of the European Commission) stated: “When I was talking about the European army, I was not joking. If you don’t want to call it a European army, don’t call it a European army. You can call it “Margaret”. You can call it “Mary Ann”. You can call it any name”.(*19)

– In 2017, Jean Claude Juncker, EU Commission President proclaimed that: “By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.” (*18).

– In 2018, Angela Merkel stated:But I also have to say, seeing the developments of recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day.”  (*26).

– And more recently, Ursula von der Leyen, the current President of the European Commission, is reported as saying: “The exit of Great Britain from the EU opens up new possibilities for intensifying military cooperation among the member states”. (*27)

While the Schumann declaration declares a desire for peace, Commission President Romano Prodi stated that “The two pillars of the Nation state are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that” (*22).

The characteristics of “active” neutrality have been outlined by Devine and include the primacy of the UN, peace promotion and maintaining Ireland’s independence, identity, and independent foreign policy25. Sovereignty is the ability of a country to make its own laws and to decide its relationship with other countries. This becomes even more critical when one considers that the former German Defence Minister and now President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has called on a number of occasions during the last year for decisions under the EU’s Common Security and Defence (CSDP) to be made by qualified majority voting (QMV) rather than unanimously. “We are thinking about perhaps moving towards a majority vote in diplomacy and foreign affairs so that we can respond rapidly to crises and speak with one voice, one European voice,” she said recently; ‘and so you cannot be blocked by one country”. (*23)

The question has to be asked why we have not gone down the road of using the United Nations as a mean of addressing international conflict issues. The UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 members, and Ireland is one such member. The Security Council is mandated to take the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or an act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of settlement. It may resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security (*24) .

We need to strengthen and support the UN. It is of paramount importance that we call a halt to the creeping militarization of the EU, or at least Ireland’s role in it. And there is support for this. An MRBI poll in June 2001 showed 72% of Irish people supported Irish neutrality (*25). While a Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks poll (*26) in March 2022 revealed that 49% of the population agreed with the statement that “the original concept of Irish neutrality was out-of date”, nevertheless, 63% of the same sample agreed with the statement that “Ireland should remain militarily neutral in the war waged by Russia against Ukraine”. More recently still, an Irish times/Ipsos poll (*27) in April 2022 found “overwhelming support” among the Irish population to retain our current model of neutrality, with two thirds of voters not wanting to see any change.

What needs to be done?

Three things need to be done.. Firstly and most importantly, we must stand up for what we believe in. As Devine states, “Neutrality is not for the faint-hearted; rather, it is a courageous non-aggressive stance in a world in which most small states simply “bandwagon” with an aggressor, as opposed to striking an independent path for peace”.25 (*25) It is vital that we incorporate a constitutional provision on neutrality into our constitution and a referendum has been called for to enshrine the Triple Lock (*28) in that; as Farrell states, (*23) Not to do so leaves the way open for a future Irish government to try to dispose of the requirement for a UN mandate, leaving only cabinet and Dáil approval, a foregone conclusion in the current political set-up”.

Secondly, we could reject being part of the military development of the EU and obtain a defence opt-out like Denmark has done i.e. the Danish people support the “opt-out” clause that prevents Denmark being involved in the militarization of the EU. The Irish Government could utilise the simple process, namelynotify its intention to the Council, which shall take note that the Member State in question has ceased to participate.”. (*18). The Danish taxpayer does not pay for EU military projects, and Danish soldiers do not wear EU uniforms or participate in EU military operations (*22). Saying NO to the EU defence policy does not prevent Ireland from being a responsible independent nation that works for peace globally. Ireland can still participate in the UN’s peace missions around the world. We can help to remove land mines in former war zones and we can stop the weapons trade to countries that constantly violate human rights (*22). Bring neutral does not mean being silent.


It is of vital importance that we review the impact that membership of the EU is having on our foreign policy, and our membership of military alliances. Doing nothing about our current situation will allow Ireland to drift into an EU super-state over which it will have no control. In effect, EU membership has fundamentally subverted the national independence of Ireland and is in direct opposition to the proclamation of “unfettered control of Irish destinies” in 1916. Democracy can only exist at the level of the nation state, where there is solidarity and mutual interest.

When we were warned not to let Ireland be in the “slow lane” of Europe, and to vote for several European treaties, we were not told where the fast lane of Europe was leading to. There is no shame in admitting a mistake. These is however, dishonour in knowingly and wilfully bringing Irish people down a path that they do not wish to be brought.

(*1) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM%3Axy0027 Summary of the Single European Act Accessed 9th Feb. 2021.

(*2) “The road to the EU army” https://www.pana.ie/download/Factsheet-EU-Army.pdf Accessed 9th Feb. 2021 and Article 5 of the NATO Pact says countries have a defence pact to go to war if one member state of NATO is attached. A more specific mention of the use of nuclear weapons can be read via the NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate.

(*3) https://eda.europa.eu/news-and-events/news/2021/12/06/eda-finds-record-european-defence-spending-in-2020-with-slump-in-collaborative-expenditure Accessed 14/5/2022

(*4) “PESCO, Industry and War!” Thomas Pringle TD in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*5) PESCO and Militarisation. Mick Wallace TD in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*6) “PESCO is not about peace, it is about preparing for EU wars”. https://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/commentanalysis/arid-30833488.html Accessed 9th Feb.2021

(*7) https://corporateeurope.org/en/power-lobbies/2017/12/arms-industry-lobbying-and-militarisation-eu Accessed 9th Feb.2021

(*8) https://pesco.europa.eu/binding-commitments/ Accessed 9th Feb.2021

(*9) Accessed 9th Feb.2021https://www.europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-europe-as-a-stronger-global-actor/file-european-defence-union

(*10) The Militarisation of the EU! Frank Keoghan. in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*11) https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_50068.htm Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*12) “One year on – the price of joining PESCO, Paul Cunningham https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2018/1230/1019537-pesco-ireland/ Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*13) Notifications on PESCO to the council and to the High Representative of the Union for foreign affairs and security policy https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/31511/171113-pesco-notification.pdf Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*14) “Denmark has rejected participation in the militarisation of the EU. Hopefully Ireland will do the same!” Lave K. Broch, in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*15) https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/82/about-european-external-action-service-eeas_en Accessed 9th Feb.2021

(*16) https://euro-sd.com/2019/11/articles/15087/eu-defence-cooperation-programmes/attachment/europe-is-a-very-large-military-spender/ Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*17) Dr Karen Devine of Dublin City University, https://www.pai.ie/201711irish-neutrality/ Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*18) “A vivid impression: The repressed potential of Irish neutrality” John Maguire in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*19) Independent, 4 February 2000 quoted in https://www.julianlewis.net/essays-and-topics/2967:military-mayhem-36

(*20) https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-emmanuel-macron-eu-army-to-complement-nato/Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*21) http://www.defenceviewpoints.co.uk/military-operations/an-eu-army-fantasy-fact-or-folly-2 Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*22) “1916 values diverted”, The Village magazine, https://villagemagazine.ie/1916-values-diverted/ Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*23) Niall Farrell in Clare Daly et al, PESCO: Irish Neutrality and the Militarisation of the EU (Dublin 2019). Available from post@people.ie

(*24) https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/ Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*25) https://www.pana.ie/idn/neutral.html. Accessed 9th Feb. 2021

(*26) https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/poll-sands-beginning-to-shift-on-irish-neutrality-41416077.html

(*27) https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/overwhelming-support-for-retention-of-ireland-s-military-neutrality-1.4853176

(*28) The Triple Lock was to ensure that, where the size of a Defence Forces contribution was more than 12 personnel, Irish soldiers would not serve abroad unless there was a UN Security Council mandate, along with Dáil and government approval. But it has effectively been abolished by the Irish government so as to ensure full participation by the Irish Army in the EU Battlegroups.

– This is an updated version of an article which first appeared in People’s News, the newsletter of the People’s Movement https://www.people.ie/


The cost of war

The people of Ukraine continue to pay a terrible price, in so many different ways, for the aggression visited upon them by Vladimir Putin and Russia. Russia itself is also paying a price, not least in the estimated 20,000+ Russian soldiers (of various ethnicities) who have been killed. With the war now raging for a couple of months, and no end in sight, the death and destruction is truly horrific and the effect across Ukrainian society monumentally damaging.

While the decision to go to war was Putin’s, as has been mentioned in these and other pages ‘the west’ and NATO have some responsibility for policies which encouraged Putin in the course he has taken. The failure of Russia after the collapse of the USSR to ‘Europeanise’ is not just a failure by Russia but a failure by Europe to include it in a meaningful way and it returned to its separatist ways. In addition there is the whole matter of how ‘the west’ regards democracy and how it is woefully defined with frequently contradictory policies which have added to problems, points explored by Peter Emerson in his article in this issue.

While Putin may privately regret going to war, having initially seen it as a stroll in the park to take Kyiv, he is now steeped in blood so far that, with his credibility and power at stake, he feels he has to continue. No matter how brutal he is, no matter how much death and destruction has been meted out, he needs a way to climb down, that ‘off ramp’ (in US English) which was mentioned early on. The bitter pill of sacrificing, and recognising the transfer of, some territory may be necessary, including the Crimea (which became part of Ukraine on the whim of Stalin) but other parts of the east of Ukraine. At the risk of perpetuating myths which Russia has used to justify the war, there might also be some benefit in going along, in some way, with Putin’s supposed aim of the ‘denazification; of Ukraine to allow him to claim ‘victory’ at home. Ukrainian military neutrality will certainly feature in any settlement and should have been agreed previously.

Some western leaders, such as President Macron in France, have attempted to continue to dialogue with Vladimir Putin. However ‘the west’ could also be more imaginative in how it engages with Russia, and, controversially, it might need to offer some sort of carrots as well as the stick of sanctions. But it is indeed a proxy war between Russia and NATO.

We need a paradigm shift away from war. Part of the basis of the War Resisters’ International is that “War is a crime against humanity”. And clearly Vladimir Putin is not the only leader to have felt a bit of warfare was justified; George W Bush and Tony Blair were among many who saw war in Afghanistan and Iraq as worthwhile and justified. The cost of war in these places was every bit as great as in Ukraine. Meanwhile the EU is trying to build up its military power and its arsenals. The USA has 800 or more military bases around the world in a monumental and disgraceful waste of money. The Irish government is set to substantially increase its military budget with uncertain aims.

Getting rid of war is an urgent necessity before war gets rid of us. But it requires both courage and imagination to jump into a future without recourse to arms. Such a world would of course be safer and it could, and should, be more just; to avoid violence, greater economic and human rights justice are essential – and less expenditure on arms and armies leaves more money for things that matter to people, and real human security through health provision, and so on.

That move away from war can take place both unilaterally and multilaterally. Countries and regions with the courage to do so can disarm or at most adopt a clearly defined ‘non-offensive military defence’ – if not the civilian based defence which we would favour. Meanwhile multilateral negotiations, through the United Nations and otherwise, can chip away at the structure of war, penalising those who use aggression and gradually restricting and reducing what is permitted in military structures and equipment.

There are great opportunities for Ireland to contribute in this (a country which has been involved in nuclear non-proliferation, and the banning of landmines and cluster munitions), an area partly explored in the next editorial, on Irish neutrality.

Neutral on the side of peace and justice

There has been much attention to the issue of Irish neutrality since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. Russian aggression against Ukraine was projected by many as a reason to ditch neutrality and hitch up to NATO (and not just in Ireland – Finland and Sweden are much nearer joining up). Taoiseach Micheál Martin postulated the possibility of a citizen’s assembly on the issue. Belligerence because of the Russian invasion was at a prime. Once again newspaper correspondents wheeled out the trope about Ireland ‘hiding behind’ Britain’s military power and being irresponsible. Government ministers tried to further qualify Irish neutrality. Was there a sea change in Irish attitudes?

But then along came a poll commissioned by the Irish Times, itself a paper which supports the decimation of Irish neutrality through a commitment to EU ‘defence’ – and the EU is increasingly the European wing of NATO. Though the Irish Times does take on board Irish opposition to nuclear weapons how that could be manifest in joining a military alliance with nuclear power France, and indirectly Britain, has not been answered. No, the Irish commitment to neutrality remained steadfast. Those getting belligerent and wanting to climb into bed fully with NATO or the EU were not speaking for the people of the Republic – though the state, given its involvement with NATO’s so-called Partnership for Peace, and involvement with EU’s PESCO, is certainly at the bedroom door.

To quote from the Irish Times of 14/4/22 “Two-thirds of voters do not want to see any change in neutrality, with less than a quarter (24 per cent) in favour of a change……Just 35 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Ireland should send military aid to Ukraine, even if this affects our neutrality”, while 55 per cent disagreed.

A similar majority are opposed to Ireland’s involvement in greater EU military co-operation. Just a third of voters (33 per cent) agreed with the statement: “In the light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I want to see Ireland play a greater military role to defend the EU”, while 54 per cent disagreed….The two-thirds majority in favour of the status quo was underlined when voters were asked the straight question: “Do you support Ireland’s current model of military neutrality or would you like to see it change?” Again, 66 per cent of respondents said they supported the current model of neutrality, while 24 per cent said they would like to see it change. Eleven per cent said they didn’t know…..Support for neutrality is consistent across all age groups.” https://www.tiny.cc/3t6ruz

There are a huge number of questions tied up with Irish neutrality. One such question is – what kind of presence does Ireland want in the world? To be part of a nuclear-armed, confrontational and militarist alliance (NATO) which along with its constituent great powers has been involved in illegal and highly damaging wars (Afghanistan, Iraq and so on)? To be part of a developing EU military power? Or to be a small but persistent supporter of peaceful initiatives and support for, as the Irish constitution stipulates, the pacific settlement of international disputes?

There is also the question of what strategic threats there are to the island of Ireland, and what can be done about them. The short answer is there are very few strategic threats in terms of conventional military invasion or the like, and if this was to happen it would be in an armageddon scenario where Europe was in meltdown, possibly even nuclear meltdown. In that situation no military intervention would make much difference anyway.

As to solidarity with other countries, does anyone really believe that Ireland would make any difference, in today’s high tech era, to the military capability of NATO if it joined? Surely it is better to be an outside force for peace, available as a neutral intervener, a mediator, and a critical friend? Rejecting the Cold War logic of confrontation does not mean being uncritical or not opposing the likes of Russian aggression in Ukraine. It is a question of how it is done.

For those who are concerned about defence, non-violent civilian-based defence is also possible (as was explored in the article in the last issue of Nonviolent News on ‘Nonviolent resistance to invasion, occupation, and coups d’état’). Given the commitment to neutrality by the population of the Republic, and the cohesion within society, this should be a no brainer.

But while military peacekeeping, under the aegis of the UN, has been a feature of Irish international policy since the late 1950s, and one proudly referred to, it should not be the only model. Unarmed peacekeeping and mediation could be explored more, and larger scale nonviolent interventions in ‘standing between’ violent or potentially violent opponents. But mediation and a mediative presence before violent conflict breaks out should be a much larger aim. Possibilities are limited only by available resources and the imagination which is used; working to move beyond war as in any way being acceptable is another aim.

A citizen’s assembly could be a way of exploring all these issues but given the results of the Irish Times survey it is likely that the political elite will continue to stealthily try to dismantle neutrality bit by bit, as they have been doing, rather than a full frontal assault – which the opinion poll shows them would fail. So the citizen’s assembly which has been mooted at the top political level is now highly unlikely to materialise. If the result in the poll was as it was at a time of clear and very violent aggression by a larger, more powerful, European country against a smaller one then it will take a lot to shift public opinion away from neutrality. The task for peace activists is to make that neutrality more powerful and meaningful, and move away from fellow travelling with NATO or EU military adventures and adventurers.


Neutrality – and Ukraine

Neutral on whose side?’ was the title of a Dawn magazine issue in 1982 about Irish neutrality and that question remains an extremely pertinent one today, forty years later. Is neutrality in the Republic simply something which has been an historical albatross and current day anomaly to be ditched at the first available opportunity? Is Ireland simply a cheapo fellow traveller with NATO? Or is neutrality something much more meaningful and productive on the international scene with great scope for development in the future?

It is quite clear that the current Irish political elite wishes to ditch neutrality as something from medieval times which is inappropriate for a modern, progressive and ‘European’ country like Ireland. In other words, it belongs with de Valera’s ideas about athletic youths and comely maidens dancing at the crossroads. But in fact behind this image of progressiveness in wanting to ditch neutrality is the most reactionary and violent of enterprises; the creation of an army for a new, and transnational, European empire – one which will not only be adept at turning away migrants in need but fit for intervention in resource wars later in the 21st century, and doing the bidding of NATO.

This, and the strong backing the EU is giving to the arms industry (with the Irish government backing Irish enterprises getting their snout is the violent trough of the ‘European Defence Fund’) is a terrible harbinger of things to come. Ireland, which has been a victim of imperialism and at least a partial bastion of anti-imperialism, is slowly, slowly joining a new imperialist venture. No, of course it doesn’t call itself that but instead of drawing on Irish history and culture it is joining up with the European imperialist countries in a new militarist venture.

It is, as you would expect, all dressed up in the most positive terms, just as ‘Ministries of War’ were relabelled ‘Defence Ministries’. But what is really needed for defence, and defence of what? The two greatest threats in the current era have been global warming and a pandemic; while the rich world responded quickly to the latter, it has been extremely tardy on the former. We need a response to the real challenges and issues that face us today. Human security is what needs protected and governments are too busy thinking about – and spending on – military ‘security’ (which tends to lead to insecurity).

Some commentators talk about Ireland ‘hiding behind’ UK and NATO defences. The question is – hiding behind what and why? Who would want to attack Ireland? And if they did it would be part of a greater conflagration which wreaks massive destruction across Europe. Even thinking in conventional ‘security’ terms, it is nonsense to think Ireland needs to be a part of a military alliance like NATO, or part of an EU army, to feel secure. Far better to make friends, to turn perceived enemies into friends, and to speak fearlessly against the military confrontational tactics used by NATO, Russia and others. And it is quite possible to have a nonviolent defence strategy for Ireland, or one allied with non-offensive military defence.

Ireland can play a real role for peace by being neutral and expanding its action for peace. It has acted constructively over the years on nuclear non-proliferation, the banning of landmines and cluster weapons, and in military peacekeeping with the UN. This kind of role is not only the best defence for Ireland but the best contribution Ireland can make to peace in the world. There are more than enough countries who go down the route of military confrontation, war, and waste of money on weaponry; Ireland would be foolish to copy or join them.

The Irish government and some of the media recently went somewhat wild about Russian naval exercises to take place in the Atlantic nearest to Ireland but far away from its territorial waters. No such protestations have been made about frequent NATO exercises much closer to the Irish coast. As other commentators have said, ranked along with the Irish government giving the use of Shannon Airport to the USA on a plate, this is rank hypocrisy. However it is interesting that a meeting between Irish fishermen, worried about the effects on fishing in the area of the naval exercise, and the Russian ambassador, was successful; the manoeuvres have been moved further away from Ireland, an example of successful negotiation or conciliation.

NATO missed the chance to disband when communist regimes in Russia and eastern Europe fell in 1989 and instead has helped create new enemies. At this time, firm declarations were given to Russia that it would not expand eastwards. It has.

Russia under Putin is an autocratic, violent and corrupt regime but NATO has managed not only to create fears in Russia but also to help destabilise the post-communist peace. Russia has continually been invaded from the west, including in both the First and Second World wars, and by the ‘Allies’ after the First World War was over, in support of the Whites against the Reds.

Solutions are there but the USA is unwilling to accept a situation which would be intolerable to itself. The USA threatened global nuclear disaster in the ‘Cuban missile crisis’ of 1962 when it would not accept the weapons of a perceived enemy to be ‘on its doorstep’; Russia (USSR) backed down. And yet the USA expects Russia to have perceived enemy forces (NATO) in its neighbourhood. We do not believe in big power ‘spheres of influence’ but if it comes to having a level playing field on this, it should be noted the USA has over 800 military bases around the world and regards the whole globe as its oyster (for consumption).

The solution for Ukraine is clear: an autonomous regime in the Russian-identifying east of the country (in line with the Minsk II agreement of 2015), and the whole country to be neutral with neither foreign bases there nor military alignment. Neutrality is not just a sensible policy for Ireland.

In closing this piece it is worth quoting at length a statement from the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement:

The people of our country and the entire planet are in mortal danger due to the nuclear confrontation between the civilizations of East and West. We need to stop the build-up of troops, the accumulation of weapons and military equipment in and around Ukraine, the insane throwing of taxpayers’ money into the furnace of the war machine instead of solving acute socio-economic and environmental problems. We need to stop indulging the cruel whims of military commanders and oligarchs who profit from bloodshed.

The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns the preparation of Ukraine and NATO member states for war with Russia.
We demand global de-escalation and disarmament, the dissolution of military alliances, the elimination of armies and borders that divide people.

We demand an immediate peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, around Donetsk and Luhansk, on the basis of:
1) absolute compliance with a ceasefire by all pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian combatants and strict adherence to the Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements, approved by UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015);
2) withdrawal of all troops, cessation of all supplies of weapons and military equipment, cessation of total mobilization of the population for war, cessation of propaganda of war and hostility between civilizations in the media and social networks;
3) conducting open, inclusive and comprehensive negotiations on peace and disarmament in the format of a public dialogue between all state and non-state parties to the conflict with the participation of pro-peace civil society actors;
4) enshrining neutrality of our country by the Constitution of Ukraine;
5) guaranteeing the human right to conscientious objection to military service (including refusal to be trained for military service), in accordance with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and paragraphs 2, 11 of the General Comment № 22 of the UN Human Rights Committee.
War is a crime against humanity. Therefore, we are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.”

Gender based violence: The missing link

The killing of Ashling Murphy on a canal bank outside Tullamore in Co Offaly on 12th January shocked people in Ireland and further afield. While death dealt by (presumably) a stranger in this way is unusual in Ireland and generally – most femicides involve a killer known to the woman killed – it sparked a considerable and welcome debate about violence against women in general.

Perhaps some good will come from this tragedy if education and expectations change so that there is outright rejection of interpersonal violence and particularly violence against women, much of which currently is sexually related and taking many different forms. Increased educational programmes and exploration at school level will help. But there needs to be a focus on this for adults too and a general change in culture. This requires ongoing commitment and not simply knee jerk reactions.

Male violence has been the elephant in the room – or, in the words of the INNATE poster, too big to fit in the room (go to poster ‘MV’ at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ ). There is perhaps starting to be an awareness of the gendered nature of violence but this understanding has a long way to go, and the parameters are no way wide enough. Maleness certainly does not equate to violence but the vast majority of violence stems partly from the perpetrator being male.

Why do (essentially male) people achieve pleasure from playing an extremely violent computer war game like ‘Call of Duty’ (which was part of a recent multi-billion dollar deal)? What is it about us that we can enjoy a ‘game’ where killing and destruction is routine and something we are encouraged to do? Do we not make connections? All right, say many, this is fantasy and allows people to let off steam; perhaps yes but it does so at the cost of normalising such violence and destruction. If we learn by playing then such games are literally a death trap. Violence in our culture is endemic.

The Downpatrick Declaration, https://www.downpatrickdeclaration.com/ launched in December, seeks among other things to link the commitments made to non-violence in Northern Ireland as part of the Good Friday Agreement to wider and international dealings. We need a commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict – which the Irish constitution speaks about – not just in the ‘domestic’, inside a country, environment but at every level. There is essentially no difference. States give themselves the ‘right’ to declare war and fight wars but why? And how is this really any different to someone or a group using violence within a country? Ethically and practically there is no difference though states claim the mantle of statehood to do so.

This is where we need to introduce the concept of toxic militarist masculinity. What entitles men to go to war, kill and maim others, attack who they wish, all for a cause which would be better served by nonviolent means? And this is not the preserve of countries in the Middle East or elsewhere; it is regularly practised through drone and missile strikes by the USA and UK with impunity, and by invasions of countries with regimes they don’t like. And it is the politicians and leaders who direct the soldiers to go to war and the weapons to be fired; soldiers, who know what violence entails, may be much more reluctant to engage in warfare and not just to avoid risking their own lives.

The state tends to hold their war-fighting machinery and sophisticated armed forces in high regard. Most countries treat their armies as symbols of their nationhood, although it is ironic that individual soldiers are often not well treated even in peacetime, and forgotten and neglected after fighting a war. Many men join their national army for altruistic motives as well as it being a job.

We feel there is a strong link between toxic masculinity in general, including the violence of men, with military violence and potential violence. Individual soldiers and ex-soldiers may be the gentlest and most considerate of people but the very fact of having armed forces – and possibly the more belligerent a country and army the worse it is – acts as an incentive to male violence at other levels. If men are entitled to use violence in armed forces in “our country’s” cause – and ‘God’ is inevitably expressed to be on our side – then that also legitimises violence by men at other levels, perhaps very unconsciously, but legitimises it in the minds of some. Please note we are not saying this has a direct affect on all soldiers and ex-soldiers but ‘it is in the air’ and affects some.

In other words, there is a direct link between the legitimisation of violence at a military level and men’s assumption of its legitimisation at a personal level. This may not be thought out or expressed rationally but it is there. It is not a simple link and for most people it may not have an effect but it is there in the culture. And therefore no amount of educational or anger management programmes will erase the potential for male violence at a personal level while violence at the state level is considered legitimate and even worthy, and countries go to war at the drop of a hat.

This is the missing link in the debate about male violence. It is unexplored, controversial and even raising it is likely to be an unpopular point of view and considered iconoclastic – but, we insist, that link exists. It is not the only background factor to male-on-female or other interpersonal violence but it is an important aspect which is part of the ‘elephant in the room’ which is male violence.

About the contents of this (bumper) issue….

While the individual contents of this bumper issue ‘speak for themselves’, some general clarification is perhaps needed. We are aware that our analysis of ‘the missing link’ in relation to male violence (in the second Editorial) is controversial.- controversial, yes, but also needed to point out something entirely missing in the discussion.

Edward Horgan’s piece on neutrality and what it means, nationally and internationally, is important; his viewpoint, included in the piece, on the need for a national army might not be ours but it fits into the concept of “non-offensive defence” which is important and progressive in the Irish context. Realistically, defending and developing Irish neutrality is essential in avoiding Ireland (the Republic) jumping fully into the NATO camp with its militarist and confrontational approach – or of course continuing to buy into EU militarism as the western European arm of NATO.

The article by Garreth Byrne on the development of organic growing, selling and communicating in the north-west is not just a little bit of history but also detailing some stepping stones on the way ‘we’ need to go in relation to land use. The size of the Irish cattle herd is unsustainable in terms of global warming emissions, a point evaded by the Irish government in relation to COP26. Developing new, and rediscovering old, ways of relating to the land is essential and credit is due to trailblazers on this.

Continuing the series on ‘Art and peace’, there are many questions we need to ask about how peace can be built up in our society and culture; this series with Stefania Gualberti continues as explorations of the whole area, this time in a fascinating and grounded interview with Karen McFarlane.

The aim of Nonviolent News is not just to inform but also to stimulate debate. We welcome comments on these and all articles and material in Nonviolent News . Comments can be sent to innate@ntlworld.com

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