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Neutrality and policy

Time for a meaningful debate

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott
The Irish Times - Letters to the Editor.

Sir, – Fintan Lane (Letters, June 15th) laments the fact that the Government has decided that neutrality means what it wants it to mean. Unfortunately, this has always been the case across the board. Those in favour of our current version of neutrality, who exist across quite a spectrum, have also decided that neutrality means what they would like it to mean, although this is rarely explicitly stated. Equally, opponents of neutrality have their own ideas of what it means and how we should abandon it.

What we mean by neutrality in Ireland has always been deliberately vague, in order that the Government of the day has sufficient latitude to decide what, if anything, to do in relation to international conflicts or wars (the current Ukrainian war included). Contrast this with the active neutrality of other European countries, which is clearly enunciated and is backed up by appropriate military resources to make it meaningful. The likelihood is that pressure from our European neighbours in relation to our military capabilities will continue to intensify in the coming years.

Ireland will have to be seen to contribute more to the defence of its own territory and, crucially, also to international infrastructure that lies within our territorial waters. We may actually have to have a proper debate about neutrality and then develop a policy. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 16.