Coveney rejects call for abandonment of Ireland’s neutrality policy

Leading academic says the state should not rely on the UN Security Council to judge when to deploy Irish troops

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has rejected a call by a leading Irish academic for Ireland to abandon its traditional policy on military neutrality. File Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has rejected a call by a leading Irish academic for Ireland to abandon its traditional policy on military neutrality. File Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has rejected a call by a leading Irish academic for Ireland to abandon its traditional policy on military neutrality.

The academic also called for the current Triple Lock policy to be replaced with a Double Lock Policy.

Mr Coveney said he could understand why Professor Brigid Laffan had argued for the removal of the Triple Lock whereby Ireland required a UN mandate as well as the approval of the Dáil and Cabinet to send Irish troops on peace keeping missions but he did not agree with it.

“I can understand why Prof Laffan would be saying that because the UN Security Council now has become a very difficult place to make decisions because of the tensions between Russia and the EU and the United States and obviously, China has interests there too” he said.

“Having say that, I think the Triple Lock is something that Irish people hold quite dear- we send troops abroad on the back of the UN mandate or a UN mission and that has given us credibility with the Irish people in terms of the maintenance of our neutrality.

“It has also given us reassurance that we don’t send troops abroad lightly and that it is part of a UN effort so before we would change that it, would need a lot of debate and I think we would need a lot of open debate in the Dáil.

“I don’t think the government is likely to decide to change that policy or position without a pretty comprehensive debate first. It’s not something that’s on the agenda at the moment to be honest but I can understand why Prof Laffan would say it.”

Prof Laffan urged the government to change the current Triple Lock policy as it meant that someone such as Vladimir Putin could effectively hold a veto over where Irish troops could be deployed if the government was depending on UN sanction for a mission.

Speaking two weeks ago at the Daniel O’Connell Summer School in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry on the theme Ireland and Europe, Prof Laffan called for debate on the issue which she said needed to be addressed by the government.

“We in Ireland have a deep love for the UN and it’s a very important institution in the world but it is deeply flawed in its ability to maintain peace and security in the world. Why should we, as a country, give Putin’s Russia a veto over the deployment of Irish troops,” she said.

“Why do not we trust our own Government and our parliament to decide where and when Irish security forces are deployed? Why should we rely on the UN Security Council to judge where it is just and right and positive to deploy Irish forces .

“I do think the parliament and not just the Government, should always sanction the deployment of Irish troops but by including a reference to the UN Security Council, Ireland is effectively giving Putin’s Russia and China’s Xi Jinping a say in the deployment of our troops.”