Sir, – It is now standard for people who question Irish policy on neutrality to infer that Ireland was actually on the side of the Allies during the second World War.
Sort of. Inevitably, a small country had to take account of its much more powerful neighbour, and act pragmatically.
But Russia, the US and the UK all considered Ireland neutral.
And there is the small matter of Éamon de Valera’s offering condolences on the death of Hitler.
People should be aware that a move to join Nato, if Ireland was to keep its treaty obligations, would involve raising the defence budget to something around €2 billion.
The Army would grow enormously in size.
It would also change drastically in character.
Irish soldiers, generally, seem to have the sensible attitude of neither kill or be killed: mostly their work abroad is peace-keeping.
Nato armies are there to kill, and they do.
These changes would result in the Army going from being a resource for the civil power to being a threat to civil society.
The State would have a massive coercive apparatus at its disposal, one also dedicated to protecting its new status.
One of the distinguishing – and good –things about this country is that it is not deeply militarised: the Army is not an oppressive presence.
We do not have a martial culture.
We do not need one: for reasons of geography, we are not under threat.
Neutrality has worked well for Ireland. It is something well worth preserving. – Yours, etc,