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ireland's triple-lock

Motion on Ireland remaining a militarily neutral state won't be opposed by Government

Taoiseach says scrapping the triple-lock is not in the Programme for Government.

GOVERNMENT WILL NOT oppose a Seanad motion which calls for a guarantee of Ireland’s status as a militarily neutral state. 

The motion states that Ireland’s neutral status should be guaranteed by way of a constitutional guarantee, calling for a recognition that Ireland’s membership of any military alliance “would immediately diminish and undermine our international reputation”. 

The motion also calls for Ireland to retain its political discretion to support any member of the international community in crisis, but with the protection of the triple-lock

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said over the weekend that moving away from the triple-lock system for sending Defence Force’s troops on missions abroad would be “a sensible change”.

Currently, to send more than 12 Irish troops abroad, there needs to be approval by the Government, approval by the Dáil and a UN Resolution to mandate the mission.

The motion, which states that Ireland’s military neutrality remains a central and invaluable component of our foreign policy since the foundation of the State, is being proposed by the Seanad Independent group and is being supported by all opposition groups. 

Senators Tom Clonan, Michael McDowell, Victor Boyhan, Sharon Keogan, Rónán Mullen, David Norris, Lynn Boylan, Paul Gavan, Niall Ó Donnghaile, Fintan Warfield, Fiona O’Loughlin, Frances Black, Eileen Flynn, Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane have all backed the motion which will be heard in the Seanad today. 

It states that Ireland’s military neutrality makes the country a “unique voice for peace and reconciliation throughout the world”. 

The motion also calls for the Government to recognise that the country’s military neutrality “is highly valued and cherished by the citizens of Ireland”. 

The text of the motion also states:

“In a time of increased political and military instability in Europe, with the invasion of
Ukraine, and in a time of global de-stabilisation and accelerating climate change, our
military neutrality is more important than ever.”

It goes on to call on the Government to properly fund the army, air corps, navy and cyber security, as well as pay soldiers, aircrew and sailors a living wage. 

A Minister for Defence, with an exclusive portfolio, should also be established, it states.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the comments made by Coveney in relation to the triple-lock mechanism in the Dáil yesterday, stating that the Government “has no intention of changing its current policy in respect of military neutrality”.

“There is no galloping towards new alliances or anything like it,” he said, adding that Coveney referenced the triple lock more in the context of the need for reform of the United Nations, in particular the veto Russia has at the Security Council.

“Let us be straight about it. The outrageous attack on Ukraine is, by any objective yardstick, an appalling, inhuman and immoral attack on the people of Ukraine, yet the country that is doing that is on the Security Council,” said Martin. 

He said scrapping the triple-lock mechanism is not in the programme for Government.

“I do not believe in removing it. I believe we should have a citizens’ assembly to discuss all these issues in a more informed way, which I have said,” the Taoiseach said. 

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