MEP Matt Carthy has called called for a campaign by all concerned parties, groups and individuals to defend Irish neutrality.
Addressing a meeting of the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Matt Carthy said:
“With almost zero public debate, the Fine Gael Government with the full support of Fianna Fáil recently signed Ireland up to The EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
“In the European Parliament Fine Gael MEPs have voted in favour of the militarisation of the EU, demonstrated their commitment to increased defence spending, and voted in favour of removing the national veto on common foreign and security policy decisions.
“This makes smaller EU member states like Ireland virtually powerless when it comes to foreign policy decisions
“PESCO will see the Irish Defence Forces integrated into an EU military apparatus under which is totally at odds with Irish neutrality.
“PESCO is an EU mechanism to bind nations into commitments to increase military spending in the EU, to increase co-operation and collaborations between national armies and making them dependent on each other.
“PESCO will see Ireland participating in EU military operations and funding EU military research which is intended to ‘complement NATO missions and strategic goals’.
“We have all seen the disastrous role that NATO members’ intervention has had in Libya and Iraq.
“This is not something that the Irish people want and it is not in Ireland’s interests.
“The decision by Independent Alliance TDs and Fianna Fail to back Fine Gael’s plan for Ireland to join PESCO is shameful.
“Despite the Taoiseach’s recent comments in the Dáil, the Irish people did not sign up for PESCO when they voted for the Lisbon treaty.
“In fact, as part of the Treaty’s ratification, the constitution was amended to explicitly prohibit Irish participation in PESCO therefore Ireland cannot participate in European common defence.
“The Irish Government has shown a complete disregard for the Constitution, and has attempted to mislead people as to what PESCO is and what Ireland agreed to by ratifying the Lisbon treaty.
“PESCO is the latest in a series of developments aimed at establishing a European military union. It is no coincidence that this push is taking part concurrently, but entirely separately, to discussions on the Future of Europe.
“All of this is part of an agenda by a small group of powerful, federalist idealogues within the EU. Basically, they want an EU empire. And as we know, all empires require armies. I do not believe that any of this is what EU citizens want.
“Citizens want an EU that delivers for them, for their families, for their communities, for their countries. There is no evidence that they want EU military expansion.
“It is time for the EU for engage with citizens, it is time to reinforce Irish neutrality – not to hammer the final nail in its coffin.
However, the threat to Irish neutrality is just coming from an increasingly federalist EU.
Recent footage of US Vice President, Mike Pence, greeting US troops, in full combat gear, while on a stopover in Shannon Airport shows how much our neutrality has been undermined by successive Irish Governments.
“Those images were another reminder that the civilian Shannon Airport has virtually become a forward base for the US military to carry out exercises in the Middle East in particular.
“Sinn Féin has always stated that the US military’s use of Shannon Airport makes a mockery of Irish neutrality and the Irish Government’s supposed commitment to neutrality.
“Sinn Féin will continue to seek to uphold and defend the wishes of the Irish people for this country to remain neutral and non-aligned and we believe that neutrality should be enshrined in the Constitution.
“We also need to see a wider campaign on this issue by all concerned parties, groups and individuals to push it up the domestic political agenda.”