A chara, – The Government has published the programme for its Consultative Forum on International Security Policy. As part of the process, members of the public are invited to complete an online survey. I doubt it would pass muster with a polling organisation.
Question Three asks: “In view of the current global security environment, do you perceive Ireland’s security to be under threat?” Respondents are invited to answer “Yes” or “No”. Yet questions four to seven of this 14-question survey invite elaboration on the threat to Ireland’s security. Presumably, those answering “No” to Question Three should skip to Question Eight.
Question Five asks: “Do you think that Ireland currently has the necessary capabilities to deal with the threats faced? If no, explain what capabilities you believe are needed.” Unlike Question Three, respondents are not presented with a “Yes” or “No” button for indicating their preference. Rather, the question is clearly weighted toward a “No” answer, with respondents invited to elaborate on a “No” answer up to a maximum of 500 words.
Question Eight asks: “Should Ireland continue to play a role in UN and/or EU peacekeeping and crisis management?” Again, a simple “Yes” or “No” option is not available. Rather, the respondent is invited to submit an answer up to a maximum of 500 words. Though a one-word answer would suffice, it’s as if respondents are required to formulate foreign policy before they will be taken seriously.
Question Nine asks: “If yes, should we maintain the “triple lock” mechanism? In your view, is there an alternative to the “triple lock”? This is the most obviously biased question in the survey. A “Yes” or “No” option is not available. Rather, the question pointedly seeks an alternative to the triple lock. It’s no secret that the Government wishes to ditch the triple lock, and the formulation of this question bears this out.
Question 10 seems to be aimed at third-level politics students: “What do you view to be the defining features of Ireland’s current policy of military neutrality?”
Only when Question 10 has been satisfactorily answered is the respondent invited to answer the question that should have preceded Question 10. This question, number 11, asks: “Should we maintain or change our current policy of military neutrality?” Again, a simple “Yes” or “No” option is not available. Rather, the respondent must again come up with an exam-type answer.
Question 13 commits the same error as Question Nine, in that it’s clearly weighted towards the Government’s preferred policy: “Should Ireland continue to work with other countries and/or international organisations, such as the EU and Nato, in the area of security and defence? What areas should this work focus on? Are there areas that should be excluded?” I and many others, I’m sure, wish to answer with a simple “No”. A subsequent question might seek elaboration from those answering “Yes”, to which I and others would answer “No”.
The clear intention is to manufacture “consent” for the abandonment of the triple lock and the weakening – possibly the abandonment – of neutrality. – Is mise,