PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has the full backing of a Limerick senator in his comments on new threats to Ireland’s military neutrality.
The comments from President Higgins received mixed welcomes throughout the last week.
Speaking after a people’s forum on neutrality held in Limerick last week in Conradh na Gaeilge on Thomas Street, Sinn Féin senator Paul Gavan said: “Our president was 100 per cent correct to call out the dangerous drift towards NATO over recent years.”
“We continue to see US military flights using Shannon each week in significant numbers, and now we see this Government “Consultative Forum” on future defence and foreign policy, which is clearly geared towards removing the triple lock requirement before our defence forces can be involved in military operations abroad.”
Senator Gavan said that the forum on Irish neutrality is “a blatant attempt to undermine our policy of neutrality” and that the triple lock on the decision on whether or not Irish Defence Forces take part in military missions should be kept.
“Right now Irish defence forces can only take part in international military missions after approval from the United Nations, the Government and the Dail via a resolution being passed,” Senator Gavan said.
He continued: “Our President has rightly drawn attention to the fact that the speakers taking part in this forum are overwhelmingly aligned with support for greater involvement in NATO. President Higgins also highlighted the absence of speakers from countries that maintain a policy of military neutrality, and the fact that the Chairperson of the forum is a Dame of the British Empire.
“This new forum is a blatant attempt to undermine our policy of neutrality- a policy that still retains massive support across our population, as the most recent opinion poll in the Irish Times last week has shown,” Senator Gavan concluded.