Martina Anderson calls for Irish neutrality referendum amid fears over European militarisation

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson

The Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for support for a referendum on Irish neutrality to prevent Ireland from being 'sleepwalked into a European Army'.

She was speaking ahead of debate in Dáil Éireann this evening on a private members bill on neutrality that has been brought by Sinn Féin TDs Seán Crowe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Urging support for the bill Ms. Anderson said: “Several European leaders have openly called for the establishment of an EU army in the future.

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour cannot be trusted to protect our neutrality – they blindly follow the path of EU militarisation and have voted against a referendum on this issue in the past.

“78 per cent of Irish people, in a survey commissioned by Red C, agreed that 'Ireland should have a policy of neutrality'."

Sinn Féin has long been opposed to what it sees as the creeping centralisation of economic and military powers in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The party opposed both the core European Union treaties of Nice (2002) and Lisbon (2008) on these grounds and more recently has been hugely critical of Ireland's proposed participation in the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) bloc that it believes will lead to greater defence spending and alignment with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Ms. Anderson said: “It is high time for the Irish people to have their say on this issue before we are sleepwalked into a European Army in the future.

“I am calling on the Dáil to stand up for our neutrality, support the wishes of the Irish people and support the Sinn Féin PMB on Tuesday evening."

While the southern State has maintained a policy of military neutrality since the Second World War this position is not enshrined in Bunreacht na hÉireann, the Constitution of Ireland.

Sinn Féin's Thirty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill 2018 seeks to formally insert Irish neutrality into the constitution.

If passed it will pave the way for a referendum in which the people of Ireland will be asked if they wish to amend Articles 28 (dealing with war) and Article 29 (dealing with international relations) to explicitly rule out entering into military alliances with foreign powers.

Sinn Féin proposes inserting a paragraph asserting: "War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict, or conduct of war or other armed conflict, save where it is immediately necessary in defence of the State and with the assent of Dáil Éireann."

And that: "Ireland affirms that it is a neutral state. To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non-membership of military alliances."