The Workers’ Party welcomes any open and honest debate on all aspects of government policy, domestic and international, including policy on national defence and Ireland’s involvement in international organisations. However, we have grave reservations as to whether the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy was ever designed to be part of an open and honest debate. 

Indeed, we share the very grave reservations of Michael D Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, regarding the total lack of balance of the panels at the four forums, the dominance in the speaking panels of senior active or retired military personnel, pro-NATO apologists from academia and so-called experts from selective think-tanks.

Furthermore, we share the widespread reservations regarding the suitability of professor Louise Richardson as chair of the Forum, not specifically because she is the holder of a DME, but more because of her very biased public statements on the nature of terrorism, and her position as president of the Carnegie Foundation.

The United Nations arose out of the carnage of WWII, and is the only organisation not only with a mandate to create and maintain peace globally, but with a mandate that is accepted by all 195 members of the UN. No other organisation has this global membership or this global mandate. Any attempt by any other organisation to claim an international peace-keeping role, whether this is NATO or the EU, must be seen as both self-serving and a blatant attempt to usurp the authority of the UN.

The UN has a unique status in international affairs and to this day all newly independent states regard being accepted as members of the UN as international recognition of their statehood. In December 1955 Ireland became a member of the United Nations. Over the intervening years the vast bulk of our involvement in International Security has been through Chapter 6 UN peace-keeping missions. There has always been very wide public support for Ireland’s involvement in these UN peace-keeping missions and, despite the tragic deaths of many troops over the years, that support has not wavered.

It has been clear for many years that successive governments have wished to move the focus of Ireland’s external military missions away from the UN and towards NATO initiated on EU initiated missions. The enthusiasm of the Irish political and military establishment for NATO’s Partnership for Peace (surely the epitome of Orwellianism), the EU Battle Groups, the developing EU Rapid deployment Force are but some of the signals for this move.

However the major stumbling block for the military establishment, and more particularly for the political establishment, is that the public overwhelmingly reject the move to militarism and participation in any international military alliances.

Opinion polls over many years have shown that well over 60% of voters wish Ireland to maintain our policy of positive neutrality, with only 20% – 25% wishing Ireland to join any military alliance. Despite more than fifteen months of incessant government and media attacks on Irish neutrality, the most recent Irish Times / Ipsos poll, published on the weekend of June 17th, reconfirms that over 60% of the Irish people support our existing policy of neutrality and do not wish to be part of any military alliance. While Tánaiste Micheál Martin, chief promoter of this so-called independent forum, is anxious to surrender our neutrality to the EU/NATO military complex, the people of Ireland remember the warning issued by Martin’s predecessor, Éamon de Valera, who stated: “A small nation has to be extremely cautious when entering into an alliance which brings it, willy nilly, into these wars….we would not be consulted in how a war should be started – the great powers would do that – and when it ended, no matter who won…we would not be consulted as to the terms on which it should end.”

Once again the Workers’ Party repeats our belief that the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy was never planned as an open and independent debating centre, and was carefully planned and programmed to be a propaganda boost for the government’s own plans to significantly, if not totally curtail Irish neutrality. We hope that when this expensive carnival is over that a real debate on Ireland’s foreign and security policy will be allowed commence.