Green Party stance on defence agency strongly criticised


THE GREEN Party has been heavily criticised over its agreement with coalition partners Fianna Fáil that Ireland should stay in the Brussels-based European Defence Agency (EDA) but subject to certain limitations and conditions.

However, Green Party chairman Senator Dan Boyle has defended the inter-party agreement as a significant advance on the Government’s previous position of having no restrictions on Ireland’s EDA involvement.

But recalling how the Greens had up to now been calling for withdrawal from the EDA, former party member and ex-MEP for Dublin Patricia McKenna said: “They failed to get that, so their failure is now being dressed up as somehow achieving something.

“What the Greens have got is that aspects of future participation will be put to a vote in the Dáil: they haven’t even got a vote on the principle of participation in the EDA.

“The bottom line is that we know from the make-up of the Dáil that there is not a chance of anything being rejected, because all of the parties, with the exception of Sinn Féin, support Lisbon and it is highly unlikely that these parties will vote against anything relevant to the EDA in the future. I see it as getting nothing.”

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana) said: “Ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan have made a considerable climbdown from their earlier Green Party demands.

“The Green Party has long opposed Irish membership of the European Union’s EDA, an agency established to support defence industries in Europe, to co-ordinate developments in armaments, and to promote the enhancement of military capabilities throughout the EU.”

Pana spokesman Roger Cole continued: “All we are promised now is some future legislation to come before the Dáil which will improve scrutiny of Ireland’s involvement in the agency. Improved scrutiny of an organisation that Ireland should not be a member of in the first place is hardly a major achievement. The Green Party has fallen down again.”

However, Senator Boyle said: “The legislation limits Ireland’s involvement, in terms of Government and Dáil approval, which have not existed in the past. We would further argue that Green Party participation in Government will help define Ireland’s relationship with this agency, and we intend that that should be extremely limited.

“It’s a position that is an advance from the position previously held by the Irish Government. It does go further in limiting Ireland’s need to have any involvement with this agency, as a neutral country. We are also anticipating that the Bill will be published before any possible Lisbon referendum is likely to be held.”