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Question: Are you in favour of an EU Army?

All candidates were against the introduction of an EU army.

In our audit of the Midlands North West European election candidates, we asked candidates to answer questions on nine of the most pressing issues facing Ireland and Europe in the coming years.

Are you in favour of an EU Army? 

Brendan Smith

No. Neither do I think it is a realistic prospect. Ireland is constitutionally prohibited from participating in EU common defence.

This Constitutional safeguard was inserted by the people as part of Nice II, so the scaremongering from the far-left and far-right has no basis whatsoever.

Fianna Fáil is fully committed to maintain neutrality as a core principle of our foreign policy, backed up by the triple lock mechanism.

Saoirse McHugh

Nope.

Maria Walsh

No. It shocks me that other candidates are spreading untruths about our defence forces in this campaign, they are scare mongering, toying with our neutrality, which offends me as a member of the Reserve Defence Forces. We joined the EU for peace, prosperity and opportunity. As candidates we have a responsibility to work for these objectives.

Peter Casey

We need to withdraw from Pesco and let the other interested countries work away. We need to take guns and weapons out of Irish politics, there’s enough violence on our streets and we need to protect brand Ireland.

Anne Rabbitte

Fianna Fáil is opposed to the creation of an EU-wide army as it would breach Ireland’s central principle of neutrality, which stretches back to the Second World War.

Members of our Defence Forces are trained to a very high standard and Ireland plays an important role in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Our active neutrality will guide any role Ireland plays in European Defence Agency programmes, underpinned, of course, by the triple lock mechanism.

Mairead McGuinness

No, I am against an EU army – I also don’t think it is likely or imminent. There is a debate within the EU about increasing security and defence cooperation given global instability, conflicts on the EU’s doorstep, greater risk of cyber-crime, and major terrorist attacks.

We should be part of this debate to ensure our traditions are respected. There’s a lot of scaremongering from some sitting Irish MEPs about an EU army.

Yes, some EU voices are in favour – but there is little appetite for this outside France and Germany. There are four other member states with traditions of neutrality (Austria, Finland, Malta and Sweden). Decisions on common defence have to be made unanimously by all EU countries, so it cannot be done over our head.

I am against an EU army but I am in favour of greater EU cooperation on security and defence, as long as our involvement respects our military neutrality. We are already involved in EU civilian and military missions relating to peace-keeping – and we want our Defence Forces to have the best equipment and training (which EU cooperation can help provide) so that they can carry out their tasks as safely and effectively as possible.

Fidelma Healy Eames

NO.

Matt Carthy

No, Sinn Féin is absolutely opposed to an EU army  - we want neutrality enshrined in the constitution. Those who want an EU army should vote for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil whose groups in the European Parliament are cheerleaders for the creation of an EU army.

We often hear that the European Union’s greatest achievement is that it has been a successful ‘project of peace’.

Peace projects don’t need armies! I am totally opposed to an EU Army, to Pesco and to the creation of a European Defence Fund. Sinn Féin has strongly criticised the Irish government for being complicit in the relentless EU drive towards militarisation, against the wishes of the Irish people.

In April, MEPs voted to establish a European Defence Fund and finance it with €13 billion of taxpayers’ money – which advocates the further militarisation of the EU and Member States; promotes an arms race; and subsidises investments in defence and military research and development, in spite of the social crisis and environmental impact of these activities. This is money that should be spent on investment, infrastructure and on supporting family farmers who have not got a fair deal.

Cyril Brennan

Totally against it. I want to get Ireland out of Pesco because it commits us to increase spending on defence by five times. We should be investing in renewables to lessen climate change – not guns and bombs.

Michael O’Dowd

No. And I think Ireland’s membership of Pesco strains the triple-lock process to breaking point.

Patrick Greene 

No I am not in favour of an EU army for a multitude of reasons! It must be remembered that the Irish people have forgotten that we do not have an army, we have a defence force.

Armies are for attacking other nations; defence forces are for defending a nation. The Irish nation has a world-class reputation for being independent, objective and honest in our international dealings especially where military conflict is the issue.

Aligning ourselves with armies that have an imperialist history of atrocities is a backward step. Apart from our defence force being allowed to be used for aggressive attacks on weaker nations the costs incurred to our nation of death, injury and loss of treasure is not allowed in law, that is do no harm or injury to others.

About the author:

Kathleen McNamee

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