The Irish Times view on Seán Clancy’s appointment: a vote of confidence in the Defence Forces

Once he takes up his position, Clancy will chair a committee of the heads of the military of the EU member states

The election of Lieut Gen Seán Clancy as the next chair of the EU Military Committee is a timely and much-needed vote of confidence in the Defence Forces. The current chief of staff will take up the European Union’s top military post next May having been voted in by his EU peers who clearly have confidence in him despite the travails of the force he leads.

The Defence Forces continues to struggle to meet its operational commitments due in large part to a lack of personnel that is in turn linked to deep flaws in its workplace culture. A tribunal of inquiry into the handling of complaints of discrimination, bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct is due to be established shortly.

Once he takes up his appointment Clancy will chair a committee of the heads of the military of the EU member states. It has several functions, the most pertinent being directing military activities under the Common Security and Defence Policy to promote greater cooperation in addressing conflict and crisis.

He will also serve as the senior military adviser to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a position is currently held by Josep Borell whose term ends in December. Clancy will in effect be the conduit between the union’s top military and the High Representative.


This will see him deeply involved in the EU’s ongoing efforts to recalibrate its approach to security and defence in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Post the invasion the EU committed to take more responsibility for its collective security and develop the capacity to act autonomously.

The situation in the Ukraine is likely to have changed by the time Clancy takes up his appointment but the divisions that are already apparent between members on how to address the threat posed by Russia are likely to remain.

Ireland’s cautious approach to expanding the EU’s military role and a long-term commitment to military neutrality should allow Clancy act as something of an honest broker in this regard.