Tanaiste Leo Varadkar at the 1916 Annual Arbour Hill Commemoration Ceremony last month
“I do think it would be possible for us to win a referendum on joining a European defence (force) but I think that’s why it would be important for us to be a part of designing it alongside countries like Cyprus, Austria and Malta, who also don’t plan to join Nato.
“We are not members of Nato and we have no plans to join Nato, but we have never been neutral politically, we have always been on the side of democracy.
“Some people would talk about developing a European defence that is separate to Nato or almost in competition with Nato. That doesn’t make sense to me.
“It makes sense to me that there should be very close links between the European Union and any European defence and Nato – even though we may not be a member, we wouldn’t want to prevent cooperation or interoperability between any of those things.
“I think Irish people have always seen defence and security as being more than military alliances so we’re very proud of the role that we’ve played in United Nations peacekeeping around the world.”
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar. at the European People’s Party (EPP) Congress in Rotterdam.
#Ukraine: An interesting buggy with a mounted Browning M2 .50 heavy machine gun, belonging to the Ukrainian forces, was destroyed near Marinka, Donetsk Oblast. The buggy was also transporting an AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher and a Barrett M107A1 .50 sniper rifle. pic.twitter.com/txaCNIVyaw
President Michael D Higgins officially unveiled the newly-restored Eire 6 wartime neutrality sign, one of 83 aerial recognition signs built around the Irish coast during the Second World War to alert aircraft they were approaching Irish territory.
Long buried, the Howth sign has now been restored by the local community, as a mark of respect to those who served in defence of our neutrality.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are going to vote against our bill to enshrine neutrality in our constitution. It looks like the Greens are going to vote against aswell.
The vote on our bill is this evening.
Contact your local government TD’s and call on them to support our bill. pic.twitter.com/v8lej27op3
The Dáil has heard the Irish Republic is under attack from those – including the Government – who want to undermine its neutrality, with Solidarity-People Before Profit warning that the Ukraine crisis is being used to push such “militarisation“.
Solidary-PBP today moved the Thirty Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill, which proposes a referendum to provide a constitutional guarantee of Ireland’s neutrality.
The party’s TD for Dún Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett said many people believe that neutrality already has such a guarantee, as it has such “long-standing and overwhelming” support.
He also accused the Government of being “dishonest and misleading” in its opposition to the bill, which will be voted on this evening.
“Ireland’s neutrality and the struggle for an independent Irish Republic are one and the same thing”, he said, and warned that moves against neutrality amount to “a betrayal of the Republic”.
Mr Coveney warned that the bill before the House could constrain the Government’s ability to take part in peace-keeping missions, particularly UN missions “with a peace-enforcement (or Chapter 7) mandate”.
It could “neutralise the ability of the Irish Defence Forces to operate overseas”, he said, and even “prevent the provision of non-lethal equipment”, including to Ukraine, through the European Peace Facility.
“To be blunt, it could prevent us from putting our money where our mouth was”, Mr Coveney cautioned.
📣 Leo Varadkar all but opening the debate on Ireland’s military neutrality in the Dáil – says we have gotten by for 70yrs presuming nobody would attack us, and that even if we were, the US and UK would come to our defence… he says he’s not sure that’s tenable position any more
In an emotional moment outside Leinster House, a member of the Ukrainian community asked to speak on the microphone of the Irish Anti-War Movement. He called on Ireland to not remain neutral, but the IAWM members maintained that they were on the side of neutrality.
This day 79 years ago – 21 February 1941 – the first flight took place over the ‘Donegal Corridor,’ a strip of land in the Irish state used by Royal Air Force planes during the Second World War. Though Ireland was officially neutral, the airspace was secretly allowed to be used.