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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
"By god, would you put the jackboot on people who might have views different to yours."

Martin to Murphy: 'I shudder to think of the day where you might be in authority'

An Tánaiste criticised Paul Murphy and the opposition for their response to the forum which he called a “sickening form of politics”.

THERE WAS FRACTIOUS exchanges in the Dáil today between opposition TDs and the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin after the Tánaiste announced Ireland’s first “Consultative Forum on International Security Policy” in April.

The forum will discuss Ireland’s neutrality and the future of Irish military’s non-alignment and liaisons with other States and organisations such as NATO.

In questions put to the Tánaiste today by People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy about the consultative forum, Murphy said that the list of invited speakers “gives the game away to an extreme degree”.

A change to the Triple Lock system was mooted by then Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in November, after Fine Gael members voted in favour of such a move at its annual conference.

It has now been included in a Government policy document. Such a departure from that mechanism would be a major change in Ireland’s foreign policy.

Murphy asked: “You have one anti-war speaking in the form of Roger Cole and multiple people who are on record as being as in-favour of joining NATO and have links to NATO themselves. Does this not just give the entire game away?”

The Tánaiste said he found it “shocking” how Murphy’s party operate with their “intolerance of a wide variety of views of debate”.

“I kind of instinctively felt that this is how you were going to approach this. This is a genuine debate with a huge, wide-range of speakers with different perspectives,” Martin said.

An Tánaiste also criticised Deputy Murphy and other members of the opposition for their response to the forum and their attempts to attack the reputation of the chairperson, which he called a “sickening form of politics”.

Martin added that he thinks the view of the opposition is that “certain people should not be allowed speak” because they have an conflicting opinion to theirs.

“You guys are no great advocates of freedom of speech at all, and I shudder to think of the day where you might be in authority,” Martin said.

By god, would you put the jackboot on people who might have views different to yours. That’s where you guys are coming from.”

Murphy’s fellow party member Richard Boyd Barrett was heard labelling the remark as a “shocking statement” and a “disgraceful comment” before Murphy asked the Táinaiste to withdraw his remarks.

“I’m not withdrawing that, it’s a democracy,” Martin replied.

“I’m not withdrawing. Like, we’re in a parliament. I believe fundamentally to the right of freedom of expression in this parliament.”

Murphy claimed that Martin was “abusing” Dáil privilege and labelled the Tánaiste a liar. Leas-Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly stepped in and said the name calling was “not helpful”. (It is a rule of the house that it is disorderly to call a fellow member a ‘liar’, according to a document called the Salient Rulings of the Chair.) 

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Murphy, in response to the Tánaiste, said that his party would like to have “a real debate on these things”.

“However, what we’re exposing, and what you don’t like being exposed at all, is that these consultative forums are an absolute farce.”

Murphy said the Tánaiste has the forum “completely stacked” with pro-NATO and pro-war speakers in an attempt to convince the Irish public to “ditch” neutrality.

The forum takes place next week in University College Cork on 22 June, in the University of Galway on 23 June and then continue the following week in Dublin Castle on 26 and 27 June.

The full programme of panels can be found here

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