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Canadian Forces personnel load lethal and non-lethal aid to be sent to Ukraine. Alamy Stock Photo
Red C Poll

One in four people think Ireland should have funded lethal military equipment for Ukraine

Almost 60% of people felt the Government was right to only contribute to the non-lethal military equipment fund.

A QUARTER OF adults surveyed in Ireland believe that the Government should have contributed to an EU arms package for lethal and non-lethal military equipment to be sent to Ukraine, according to a new survey.

The Government decided last month to “constructively abstain” from an EU package which will provide €450 million of funding for lethal military equipment in Ukraine following its invasion by Russia.

However, it will contribute €9 million to the non-lethal EU package for military equipment which includes medical equipment, blood and fuel. 

An opinion poll carried out for The Journal by Red C Research found that 25% of people felt a contribution should have been made to both of the funds. 

59% of people believed the Government was right to only contribute to the non-lethal military equipment fund, while 8% felt that no contribution should have been made to either of the funds. 

There was a significant difference between male and female responses, with more men feeling that Ireland should have contributed to the lethal fund as well as the non-lethal fund. 

34% of males in the 18-34 and 55+ age groups agreed that the Government should have contributed to both funds, while 27% of males in the 35-54 age group felt the same way. 

In comparison, just 16% of females in the 55+ age group agreed that the Government should have contributed to the lethal military equipment fund. This opinion was shared by 18% of females in the 35-54 age group, and 23% of females in the 18-34 age group.

58% of those in Dublin felt the Government was right to only contribute to the non-lethal military fund. This opinion was shared by 59% of people in the rest of Leinster, 56% of people in Munster, and 63% in Connacht and Ulster. 

Neutrality 

Questions have been raised about Ireland’s position of military neutrality since Russia invaded Ukraine over two weeks ago.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said that Ireland needs to have a “fundamental rethink” of its approach to security following the invasion.

In an address to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Coveney said it was important not to “fundamentally change direction” in terms of foreign policy and defence policy overnight.

“But I certainly think that what we are experiencing today in Europe does need to result in quite a fundamental rethink of Ireland’s approach to its own security and how we contribute to the collective security of the European Union,” he said.

The world has changed. This is a historic moment and, in many ways, a historic test. It is a moment of principle that defends everyone’s right to define their own future and to live without threat. It is a moment of law, the rules-based international order in which Ireland’s foreign policy is based and enshrined.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has also suggested that new consideration be given to the country’s security policy in light of the invasion, calling it a “wake-up call”. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions last week, he said Ireland cannot assume Britain or the United States would “come and save us” if it were to come under attack despite being neutral.

“Ukraine was neutral militarily. It wasn’t part of any military alliance. It was attacked because it was politically part of the West, or at least wanted to be politically part of the West,” he said. 

“We make the assumption that even if we are attacked, the British and the Americans will come and save us anyway, and I’m not sure that’s the kind of assumption a sovereign country like ours should make.”

However, several politicians have said that Ireland’s tradition of military non-alignment needs to be protected. 

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said that his party will bring forward a Bill that would see the country’s neutral position enshrined in the Constitution, while Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said Ireland’s military neutrality is “an honourable tradition that should be cherished and built upon”. 

Last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that Ireland could look at holding a Citizens’ Assembly on the subject of military neutrality, saying it would allow for detailed, prepared submissions and wide-ranging perspectives to be articulated.

However, he said that now is not the time for such a debate, and that concentrating our resources on helping the people of Ukraine “should be our immediate priority”. 

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