Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Connolly: Anti-neutrality TDs want Ireland to be a voice for “war & death”

Catherine Connolly TD has hit out at politicians taking aim at Irish neutrality, saying they want Ireland to be a voice for “war and death.”

The comments were made this week during Leaders’ Questions, amid the ongoing debate around Irish neutrality.

“My question relates to our neutrality,” said Connolly.

“APPALLED AND WORRIED”

“I refer to the Taoiseach’s comments, the comments of the Tánaiste and the Minister for Defence and various well-placed articles telling us it is time to get rid of our policy of neutrality.”

Connolly stated that she would not hesitate to say she was “appalled and worried” by these remarks.

“The policy of neutrality is not a passive policy but a very active policy.”

IRISH DIPLOMACY’S ROLE IN NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

The Deputy went on to explain the role that Irish diplomacy had played in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“One of the Taoiseach’s predecessors, whom he has quoted, ironically in an article written by a Russian on the background to the non-proliferation treaty, said, “It was not only the persistence, skill and persuasiveness of Irish diplomacy but its strong motivation that, taken together, achieved the result recorded in these pages,”” said Connolly.

“That was the effort over numerous years by Frank Aiken, almost a single voice, with the help of good public servants, that eventually led many years later to the non-proliferation treaty in 1968.”

IRISH NEUTRALITY UNDER THREAT FOR A LONG TIME

Connolly went on to claim that Irish neutrality had been under threat by every representative of “the establishment” for a long time.

“It happened with the Nice treaty, on which we had to vote twice, and then a declaration was made in Seville,” she said.

“It happened with the Lisbon treaty, on which we had to vote twice, and all the arguments that we made then came true and we eventually got a declaration on protocols.

“DEMONISING THOSE WHO SPEAK OUT”

“Fast-forward now to the middle of a crisis, where we should be using all our effort to help the Ukrainian people, with whom I stand in solidarity, and we are being deflected by various powerful voices that infantilise and demonise people, including Deputies, who dare to speak out.”

“A VOICE FOR WAR AND DEATH”

Connolly continued: “They tell us we should grow up, that we should be a voice for war and more death. I fundamentally object to that and to the pressure being put on that we would all speak with the same voice.

“I will not. That is not what I was elected to do, while still standing in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and doing everything possible to help them. Where is our voice for the diplomacy that should be taking place?

“It seems to be lost on the Government that it is meeting in Versaille and the last time an agreement was made in Versaille it related to a second world war. I ask that the Taoiseach confirm here today that he has no intention of getting rid of our policy of neutrality.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin went on to claim that he had no intention of getting rid of Irish neutrality, saying that in light of the Ukraine conflict, “people are questioning things and reflecting,” adding that “That is legitimate in a democracy.”

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