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russian invasion

EU Commissioner McGuinness calls for ‘mature’ debate on Irish neutrality

A freshly released poll shows little support for a change in Ireland’s neutral stance.

MAIREAD MCGUINNESS says Ireland would benefit from a debate about its military neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ireland’s EU Commissioner said Irish people are beginning to “see the world a bit differently” following Russia’s assault on its neighbour.

The European Commissioner for Financial Services said, before the war, having a strong policy on security and defence wasn’t seen as necessary.

“I think that what has happened in February, this horrible illegal war and the atrocities surrounding it, are forcing people to have conversations over their coffees about defence and security, about neutrality.

And I don’t think we should conclude that things will necessarily change. But I think we would profit from the debate.

This week Finland and Sweden announced that they are considering abandoning long-held policies of military non-alignment and joining Nato. The leaders of the two Nordic countries’ said the war in Ukraine has changed Europe’s “whole security landscape”.

McGuinness noted that Ireland has had “incredible influence” on the international stage with its neutral position.

She doesn’t believe it’s neccessarily time for the neutral position to be abandoned but does say Ireland would benefit from a “mature debate”.

“This is the time now where you debate things that, perhaps in the past, were set in stone,” McGuinness said.

A new poll from the Irish Times and polling company Ipsos found that two-thirds of voters in Ireland do not want to see any change in neutrality, while only 24% said they were in favour of a change.

The poll found that the majority of people don’t think Ireland should send military aid to Ukraine. It also indicated that the majority are opposed to Ireland being involved in greater EU military cooperation.

A significant majority of voters supported tougher sanctions on the Putin regime in Russia even if it resulted in higher prices in Ireland.

Additional reporting from Christina Finn

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