Protestor Margaretta D'Arcy on stage. The Journal/Niall O'Connor

Anti-war campaigner Margaretta D'Arcy claims forum is a 'stitch up' during on-stage protest

One of the protestors was long time peace campaigner Margaretta D’Arcy.

AS DAY TWO of the consultative forum got underway in Galway protestors again attempted to halt the meeting. 

One of those protesters was well known anti-war campaigner Margaretta D’Arcy who, dressed in an NUIG gown, refused to leave the stage until she could speak to the room. 

Another protestor, television producer Lelia Doolan, also took to the stage uninvited during a discussion to read a prepared speech on how the Defence Forces should be deployed.

Two protestors stood silently with anti-war slogans on posters and one man, shouting at the entrance to the room, was removed by gardaí.

Before the event started General Secretary of the Department of Defence Jacqui McCrum introduced D’Arcy to the room and gave her a microphone to speak about her views.

Speaking to The Journal D’Arcy, 90, said she believed that the Consultative Forum on International Security was a “stitch up”.  

“I received an honorary degree in Laws (from NUIG) I feel absolutely correct in sitting here and putting my point to the audience. 

“I want to ask Micheál Martin why he has not given us our citizen assembly because the President (Michael D Higgins) said it himself – this is not a democratic assembly, it is hand-picked and is about where the Government thinks we should go.

“This is a stitch up and we should all be aware of it,” she said. 

Outside the hall in the National University of Ireland Galway there was a small group of protestors,  from the local People Before Profit (PBP) cumann. 

Denman Rooke, of PBP, said that he did not agree with the consultative forum model for discussing security policy. 

He claimed that the event was stacked with speakers who were favourable to NATO and said he believed a citizens assembly would have been a more appropriate forum. 

IMG_4676 The scene inside the hall at the beginning of this morning's session. Niall O'Connor / The Journal Niall O'Connor / The Journal / The Journal

Laura Fahy was also with the PBP group – she said she thought that the forum was a “farce” and she said she believed that neutrality was the best defence. 

Day two was focused on the nature of the Triple Lock, a system whereby Ireland must have cabinet and Dáil approval and a UN mandate before deploying troops. 

The panels were to deal with Ireland’s diplomatic work at the UN, peace keeping and Irish research an innovation in security and defence. 

Retired Defence Forces Major General Kieran Brennan, during the event, said that the requirement of a UN mandate was blocking Ireland making its own decision to intervene in crises where peacekeeping and crisis management could help.  

This is a regular argument made against the Triple Lock – that the UN Mandate requirement was contaminated by the fact that permanent security council members such as Russia and China could veto a measure that guided Irish policy.

Speaking to reporters at the event Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that he believed that the Irish Government were not over stating the risk of vetoes by Russia and China impacting irish foreign policy. 

“The issue for Ireland is that we want to be peacekeepers and we want to be involved in peace building and we want to make sure that nothing would hinder Ireland be involved in genuine peace keeping missions. 

“There have been huge challenges to keep humanitarian channels open in Syria and also Ethiopia – there is no point pretending that there is no power play going on with the permanent five. 

“Russia has increased using the veto and it is an issue that, at a minimum, it deserves discussion,” he said.

The Consultative Forum will move to Dublin on Monday and Tuesday. 

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