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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Question: Are you in favour of an EU Army?

No candidate was in favour of a European army.

In our audit of the Dublin 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? 

Lynn Boylan 

No, Sinn Féin is opposed to Irish membership of any military alliance.

That is why we have led the fight to defend Irish neutrality both in the Dáil and at EU level. We brought forward legislation to enshrine neutrality in the Irish constitution, something opposed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.  We proposed a specific protocol be attached to the EU Treaties on Irish neutrality similar to that secured by Denmark.

We opposed Pesco and are opposed to EU budgets being used for the arms industry. Not all Irish MEPs have the same view.

In December 2017 Fine Gael MEPs bizarrely voted to increase our defence budget to almost €7 billion – that is the equivalent of building more than 20,000 homes. They also support an EU defence fund of €13 billion, which would see major cuts to programmes which are critical to Irish jobs. We need MEPs who will stand up for Ireland’s position as a neutral State not MEPs who want to cheerlead for the European militarisation agenda.

Gary Gannon 

Absolutely not, nor am I in favour of anything that will undermine Ireland’s position of neutrality.

Mark Mullen

mark mullan for europe

I am the only candidate with experience with conflict and international terrorism in many countries through my work with the United Nations and the European Commission.

I am not in favour of Ireland joining an EU army at any level.

I think Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will succumb to pressure from the EU for Ireland to join an European Army.

I am concerned that Irish forces are already on standby for engagement in Europe. Our neutrality is being given away with the risk of it being blurred. This leaves Dublin and Ireland open to being a target of terrorist attacks. This must be stopped now.

Any EU funding for Irish Defence Forces must be earmarked for peace-keeping missions under a UN flag. I want Ireland to continue its proud tradition of serving with the UN since 1956.

Our neutrality was hard fought for and must be treasured; it allows not only the army, but all Irish citizens travel the world and be warmly welcomed. I would prefer that the EU see our neutrality be an asset.

Rita Harrold

I am strongly opposed to any EU Army. The reputation that the EU has as a peaceful institution and defender of human rights is not deserved.

An EU Army would inevitably be an imperialist force acting in the interests of corporate profits and the interests of the super-rich elite. Such an army will continue to intervene and possibly wage wars for oil, power and profit.

Alex White 

No I am opposed to an EU army.

Irish people support European solidarity.  We want collective action on climate change, on social inequality and environmental protection. Our vision of European solidarity doesn’t include bombs, bullets or armies. 
Our Defence Forces have a proud and unequalled record of peacekeeping – that should be the sole focus of our defence policy and Europe needs to accept Ireland’s principled position on this issue.

Mark Durkan

No, I am not.

Frances Fitzgerald 

No. Ireland has signed up to two Pesco projects, the Training Mission Competence Centre project, which trains and educates personnel for future missions, and the Maritime Surveillance project, which will examine how to respond to threats in international waters. I think that participation in these two missions will ensure that Irish soldiers will have the latest and best equipment and training, and it is the prerogative of Ireland should we wish to partake in future missions.

Ciarán Cuffe

Source: Claire Behan

No, I’m not a fan. One of the last acts of the EU Par was to allocate €13 billion for defence without any oversight. Almost every other item of expenditure has oversight. This isn’t good. I don’t think Pesco is good. Of course I want peacekeeping but I want to protect Ireland’s neutrality and I want to make sure we’re simply not pawns of the European defence industry.

A huge amount of the budgets of Belgium, of France of the ukraine are spent on armaments and they’re sending those arms to countries that have really questionable human rights records. That’s wrong and I want to try to make that stop.

Alice Mary Higgins 

Europe’s greatest achievement has been securing peace on a continent riven by centuries of war and as chair of the Oireachtas cross-party group on Peace, Neutrality and Disarmament, I believe Ireland’s best contribution to the EU is as a voice for peace and champions for peacebuilding in the face of an increasing focus on militarisation and high level pressure within EPP and ALDE for a Defence Union or EU Army.

I was the first Oireachtas member to challenge the Irish Government’s decision to opt-in to the Pesco military alliance and it is significant that the PESCO founding document does not mention peace even once. There are also concerns about the sheer scale of spending in this area, at a time when the EU faces urgent collective challenges in other areas like climate change.

In their very last meeting, the outgoing European Parliament amazingly chose to not have oversight of the €13 Billion European Defence Fund. It is not acceptable for Ireland as a neutral nation to turn a wilful blind eye on these issues. We have a proud history on disarmament from the Nuclear Non Proliferation to the Ban on Cluster Bombs (I was proud to part of that process).

If elected, I will examine and challenge the arms industry and dive into the detail on issues like cybersecurity.

I am also concerned that the current EU emphasis on Defence could send a message of fear which plays into the hands of those on the far right who exploit fear and division. As we know from our own Good Friday Agreement, peace is precious and it takes patient work and Europe can show real strength by prioritising that work over a new arms race.

Barry Andrews

No. Fianna Fáil is committed to maintaining Ireland’s neutrality and we are opposed to the creation of an EU-wide army as it would breach our central principle of neutrality which is underpinned by the triple lock mechanism.

Clare Daly

Absolutely not, and I’ve said that loud and clear throughout this campaign. There is no question but that Europe is moving in an increasingly – and disturbingly – militaristic direction.

European funding for Defence projects under the post-2020 EU budget will see a mind-boggling 22-fold increase, so clearly the EU’s hawks are very prepared to spend billions of euros of our money building up the infrastructure for an EU army. And the same hawks haven’t been shy in setting out their stall, either.

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the group that Fianna Fáil sit-in in the European Parliament (ALDE) said recently, ‘A European army of 20,000 people in 2024 – let’s do it.’ Jean-Claude Juncker, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and European People’s Party leader Manfred Weber are all also on record calling for an EU army to be set up.

Ireland is a neutral state – I would be failing in my duties as a public representative if I didn’t resist the idea of an EU army being established.

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About the author:

Kathleen McNamee

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