Coveney and Harris back Martin’s call to soften neutrality triple lock over Russia ‘veto’

Moscow’s permanent UN Security Council seat makes UN mandate requirement problematic, ministers say

Two Fine Gael ministers, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris, have backed Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s call to change Ireland’s triple-lock policy, which he said is allowing Russia to have a veto over the deployment of Irish peacekeeping missions.

Mr Coveney, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and Mr Harris, the Minister for Justice, echoed the concerns expressed by the Fianna Fáil leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, who said on Monday that an “emerging consensus” was building after a shift in policy from the third Coalition partner, the Green Party, on the issue.

As part of Ireland’s neutrality stance, Irish peacekeepers can only be deployed abroad on peacekeeping missions of more than 12 personnel if the triple lock is met, requiring a UN mandate for a mission, agreement by the Government and a vote in the Dáil.

“We have had concerns about the operation of the triple lock in theory for many years but in practice, it hasn’t impeded Ireland sending peacekeepers to different parts of the world when we want to do it but geopolitics has changed in the last number of years,” said Mr Coveney told The Irish Times at an event in Cork.


“I’m not comfortable with a country like Russia having a veto over where Ireland sends peacekeepers – for me, Ireland is militarily non-aligned but it should be Ireland, the Irish people and the Irish parliament and the Irish Government who decide if and when Irish troops get sent somewhere.”

Mr Coveney said he believed it made sense to have “a balanced and informed review” of how Ireland deploys it peacekeepers though he stressed that the UN mandate has been important in “allowing people be comfortable with where we choose to send our troops”.

A public forum in which Ireland’s neutrality is to be examined is due to take place in June.

Mr Harris also backed Mr Martin’s proposal, saying that the triple lock clearly limits where Ireland can deploy peacekeepers given that Russia’s presence on the UN Security Council means that it effectively can veto certain UN mandates being passed.

“From my perspective I think it’s important to acknowledge that current construct of the UN Security Council could potentially be very challenging should Ireland decide to send troops to certain places – the idea that Russia would have a veto on where Irish peacekeepers could go is a cause of concern.”

Mr Coveney said there were alternatives other than a UN mandate of providing reassurance on Irish peacekeeper deployment that could be examined in any review of the triple lock such as looking for an invitation from a host country or to see if it was consistent with the UN Charter on Human Rights.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times