One of Sinn Féin’s biggest critiques of the Irish government is that parties like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are not serious about military neutrality.
In the run-up to the 2019 local election, Sinn Féin urged the public to “defend neutrality” by voting for them “because others can’t be trusted.” They added that “you can’t trust Fianna Fáil with Irish neutrality.”
Irish neutrality means we can invest in health, housing & public services instead of EU military alliances; it means our citizens are safer & it means we can play positive role in conflict resolution. Defend neutrality on May 24th – Vote Sinn Féin! Because others can’t be trusted pic.twitter.com/4pySKSow62
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) May 5, 2019
More recently, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sinn Féin foreign affairs spokesman John Brady TD lashed out at the government over the issue once again.
This is one of their main talking points. Keep that in mind going forward.
This week, after the government moved to expel several Russian diplomats for unclear “security” reasons, Sinn Féin said the government was being soft on the Russian embassy, and should go even further to put the screws on them.
“I welcome the announcement that the government have expelled four Russian diplomats from Ireland,” said Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
“…In the interim, the government must act in the strongest possible terms by expelling the Russian Ambassador – the humanitarian crisis unfolding before us demands action at that level.”
Now, whether you agree or disagree with Mary Lou, why is this noteworthy?
Well, in 2018, just four years ago, McDonald herself said that then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expelling a Russian diplomat from Ireland was “a flagrant disregard for Irish neutrality.”
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) March 27, 2018
“[Expelling a Russian diplomat] is completely in line with the efforts of Fine Gael and your Government to undermine and dismantle that neutrality,” McDonald said.
“…Your job as Taoiseach is to defend and reinforce our neutrality.”
So effectively, Sinn Féin’s policy is “kicking diplomats out is a violation of neutrality – unless we agree. Then it’s fine.”
The argument given in 2018 for not expelling the diplomat was Sinn Féin viewed it as the Irish government tipping its cap to Britain, who were having a dispute with Russia at the time.
As McDonald said:
“Simply citing ‘solidarity with Britain’ isn’t good enough.”
And indeed – solidarity with Britain probably isn’t a good enough reason to hurt diplomatic ties.
But solidarity with Ukraine is?
Sinn Féin MP @ChrisHazzardSF will address the ‘No To War in Ukraine’ rally this evening in London.
Ireland stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. pic.twitter.com/mZkWXRWqXO
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) March 2, 2022
There’s no evidence or suggestion that the Russian ambassador is anything but just that – an ambassador. Nobody has accused him personally of spying or espionage.
Yet Sinn Féin want to expel him from the country purely to prove a point about how Ireland is on Team Ukraine – exactly what they said Fine Gael was guilty of with Britain.
I hate to break it to you lads, but that’s not neutrality.
Neutrality doesn’t just mean giving the two fingers to NATO. It doesn’t just mean opposing US troops in Shannon airport. It means not taking sides in conflicts – any conflicts – that don’t involve us. Full stop.
Maybe you disagree with that position. Maybe you think we have to weigh in on one side or the other. And that’s fine. But let’s accept then that we aren’t a neutral country and we are explicitly taking sides.
Already, the Russians have threatened consequences for the moves we’ve taken, saying it “will not go unanswered.”
Response from Russian embassy in Dublin to Ireland’s decision to expel four diplomats, predictably says will “not go unanswered”. Ireland must have known taking this decision that it would likely mean its own diplomatic presence in Moscow would be hugely reduced & did it anyway. https://t.co/eqX46bzGZE
— Grace Cuddihy (@GraceCuddihy) March 29, 2022
And what is Sinn Féin’s reaction? To double down on it, and push them even further.
Again, whatever you want to call this, it is not neutrality. It has never been what any human in history meant by neutrality. These lads must be going to the Simon Coveney school of politics.
Simon Coveney says that neutrality means taking sides “from a military support point of view” in conflicts which don’t involve us. @Ben_Scallan says someone get this man a dictionary pronto.#gripthttps://t.co/dv94Vw2RTA
— gript (@griptmedia) March 11, 2022
When neither the government, nor the opposition knows the meaning of a word this fundamental, you know our country has a serious problem.