Government to consider wider role in world security


THE GOVERNMENT will consider a wider role for Ireland in international security and peacekeeping. It also supports an integrationist view of the future of the EU, according to the first ever White Paper on foreign policy.

The document, published yesterday, aims to "remove some of the mystique from foreign policy and open it up as an area for full public debate and discussion" `according to the Tanaiste and' Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Spring.

There was a broad welcome for much of the 16 chapter, 348 page document, but the chapter on Ireland's future role in international security attracted criticism from Fianna Fail, the Green Party and some campaigning groups.

The Government is to hold discussions with the Western European Union (WEU) about taking part in its future peacekeeping, humanitarian and rescue actions. It will also "explore further" the benefits Ireland might derive from participation in the Nato sponsored Partnership for Peace (PEP) programme.

The document emphasises that the Government sees the UN and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe as the central players in the debate on the future European and global security arrangements. It says Ireland will not join Nato, the WEU or any military alliance.

Mr Spring said he thought it "unlikely" that involvement with the WEU's so called "Petersberg tasks" peacekeeping, humanitarian and search and rescue missions would meant participating in peacekeeping operations not mandated by the UN. He said global and European security architecture was evolving all the time and he wanted Ireland to continue to be able to apply its peacekeeping experience and tradition.

There was a chorus of criticism yesterday from Fianna Fail, the Green Party and some political pressure groups, who accused the Government of attempting toe abandon Irish neutrality by stealth.

Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesman, Mr Ray Burke, said both PEP and the WEU had a nuclear capability "which is anathema to Irish people".