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 Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?

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PostSubject: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 3:48 pm

Last week on RTE Radio I caught Willie O'Dea saying in the context of the Lisbon Treaty " We're regarded as a neutral state"
He quoted article 42.7 on the "obligation to aid and assist using all means within its power" and said "We don't have the power to assist" because of our neutrality. He also said that we "could give financial assistance" if our neutrality stopped us doing anything else. We already have a thread on Lisbon and Neutrality, so I thought it would be useful to have a thread to clarify if Ireland is neutral, as a parallel thread to cross fertilise the other.

Avril Doyle MEP in 2002 made a speech to a conference on Irish neutrality in which she said

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We have been bamboozled by nod and wink merchants, who when in opposition cry foul about the destruction of our “neutrality” and yet when in office proceed to steer the ship of state closer to the safe harbours of NATO.
She went on to say

Article 28.3 of the Constitution of Ireland states that “War shall not be declared and the state shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dail Eireann.” Nowhere are the terms “neutrality”, “military neutrality” or “non-aligned” to be seen in the Irish constitution. The popular conception that Ireland is legally “neutral” is wrong.

“There is no neutrality and we are not neutral”

– This statement was not made by a zealous member of Young Fine Gael campaigning for our immediate induction into the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. No, the speaker in question was none other than former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, who said these words back in 1960. Two years later the very same Taoiseach stated in Dail Eireann that:

“We think the existence of NATO is necessary for the preservation of peace and for the defence of the countries of Western Europe, including this country. Although we are not members of NATO, we are in full agreement with its aims.”

In an interview with the New York Times, the leader of Fianna Fail then declared:

“We recognise that a military commitment will be an inevitable consequence of our joining the Common Market and ultimately we would be prepared to yield even to the technical label of neutrality. We are prepared to go into this integrated Europe without any reservation as to how far this will take us in the field of foreign policy and defence.”


Avril Doyle accused Fianna Fail of "cloak and dagger" operations and pointed out that the Swiss model of neutrality involved a high defence budget with all men being called up for military training.

-Is Ireland neutral in any sense recognised by International Law, the EU or the UN ?

-Does our Government know if we are neutral or not? or are they fudging it and engaging in deception?

- Should we be neutral ?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 4:09 pm

Was it that Mansergh fellow who said that neutrality was a policy, not a status? He's right. I wouldn't go looking for clear-cut definitions of where neutrality ends, the world's not that simple.

Our neutrality is possible largely because of our isolated position and friendly well-armed neighbours. It is often argued that we rely on these peole too much and give nothing in return. It should be remembered though, that our neutrality is not just an excuse for lazy cowardice. It gives us a lot of influence in the wider world that we simply wouldn't have. We're not seen abroad as America's poodle. Combined with our ambiguous image as as first-world yet post-colonial state, it makes us sympathetic Western country, the conscience of the (English-speaking) West.

Neutrality also saves Irish lives. Irish passports are like gold dust over in the States apparantly, as Irish passports grant virtual sanctity whereas you can imagine turning up in Kandahar with Uncle Sam going bad.

It should always be remembered that neutrality is popular. This is a democracy we live in after all. If there is a common misunderstanding about our neutral status it has to be asked why people are so attached to it. If there was a referendum on enshrining neutrality in the constitution (funny image that), I bet it would easily pass.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 4:19 pm

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-Is Ireland neutral in any sense recognised by International Law, the EU or the UN ?

Yes, but it's a specifically Irish sense that's recognised. Essentially, all that is required of a neutral is that it make a credible attempt at denying its territory to belligerents in time of war. "Credible" is defined as 'believeable', so it's an extremely elastic term.

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-Does our Government know if we are neutral or not? or are they fudging it and engaging in deception?

They know we're formally neutral. They move the definition around to where it does us the most good.

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- Should we be neutral ?

I believe that we should continue the current policy. Choosing to upgrade our armed forces so that we have the same levels of military credibility as Switzerland, or Austria, or Sweden, would involve a huge increase in military spending. Choosing to become formally aligned would involve the same.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 4:40 pm

The "policy not status" remark was certainly interesting. Is there no such thing as a recognised neutral status? Is it a complete myth? In that case what was Willie talking about?"

Avril Doyle also says on her website:

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This unsatisfactory state of affairs has continued right up to the present day. Great confusion arose during the Nice referendum campaign (and indeed in previous referenda) with scare stories that Ireland would be forced to take part in foreign missions against our will and that conscription would be introduced. Nothing could be further from the truth, but this confusion was perhaps understandable given the duplicitous policy followed by the present Fianna Fail/PD Government in relation to our joining the NATO-led Partnership for Peace and the Government’s furtive involvement in discussions at a European level about an evolving defence and security policy. To demand a referendum on joining the Partnership for Peace when in opposition, only to sign up without a referendum when in government, is irresponsible and cynical politics and understandably heightens mistrust among the electorate.

The fact that the Irish Delegation for the PfP is stationed in the offices of NATO Head Quarters in Brussels and that the public is blissfully unaware of our co-operation with NATO forces in KFOR and SFOR in the Balkans only serves to highlight the need for an urgent nationwide debate on where Ireland stands and where we go from here.

Fine Gael favours Irish involvement in discussions on peace and security at European Union level and our involvement in future Petersberg Task peacekeeping and peacemaking missions. In this way we have an opportunity to influence our partners in the Union and to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to participate in certain missions. Involvement must always be decided by the elected representatives of the Irish people in Dáil Éireann on a case-by-case basis. This point was not made sufficiently clearly by the Government during the Nice referendum and served to undermine the campaign in favour of ratification

Doyle said that Nice made no difference to Ireland in terms of military commitment - it was joining the Partnership for Peace that did. Is this the framework through which our soldiers are heading to Chad today as part of a EUFOR ?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 4:59 pm

ibis wrote:
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-Is Ireland neutral in any sense recognised by International Law, the EU or the UN ?

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Yes, but it's a specifically Irish sense that's recognised.

What does that mean, Ibis? Who recognises Ireland as neutral? Under what law? and what is the "specifically Irish sense"?

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Essentially, all that is required of a neutral is that it make a credible attempt at denying its territory to belligerents in time of war. "Credible" is defined as 'believeable', so it's an extremely elastic term.

Again, who requires this? What is the law? Does this mean we are participants in the Iraqi invasion? Switzerland appears to take this seriously, as they are armed and trained to defend their own territory. With all due respect to Declan's efforts, I don't know that we are.

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-Does our Government know if we are neutral or not? or are they fudging it and engaging in deception?

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They know we're formally neutral. They move the definition around to where it does us the most good
.

Do you know in what definition or definitions are we are "formally neutral?" It would be good to get some real clarity about this. If Avril Doyle and Martin Mansergh are correct, it is just that it has been our custom and practice on a case by case basis not to participate in wars as combatants, and that there is no special neutral status at all. But Willie says "we are regarded as a neutral state". That would to me suggest status.
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- Should we be neutral ?

I believe that we should continue the current policy. Choosing to upgrade our armed forces so that we have the same levels of military credibility as Switzerland, or Austria, or Sweden, would involve a huge increase in military spending. Choosing to become formally aligned would involve the same.
Does our membership of the PfP not represent a shift from where we were before: now we are involved in 'peace enforcement'? Is 'peace enforcement' neutral under any recognised definition? Sorry Ibis, not expecting you to have answers to all this, and I will try to dig around myself for answers too.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 7:06 pm

Wikipedia is quite good on these questions:

It confirms the "case by case" situation, but makes it clear that Ireland is already quite deeply involved in the developing European military / defence structures and also makes Shannon look dodgy in terms of neutrality.

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It is inaccurate to describe Ireland as a neutral state in the same way as Sweden or Switzerland, it would be more accurate to describe it as a non-aligned state which takes conflict participation on a case by case basis.

Neutrality in Ireland is generally taken to mean non-participation in a conflict unless approved by the so called triple-lock (the Government, Dáil Éireann, and the UN Security Council); when Irish leaders say Ireland is a neutral country, it is this triple-lock that they are referring to. Interpretation disputes arise in two ways:

1. Some disagree with participation in any armed conflict even with UN approval.

2. There is disagreement over what constitutes participation in a war. Supporters of the triple-lock policy would take it to mean active military support or a declaration of war, opponents however say that allowing military forces to refuel on Irish soil when they are on their way to a conflict, is participation and a breach of neutrality.

It is a member of the NATO-led Partnership for Peace. After Ireland became a member, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said Ireland would never join the main NATO organisation — this was to calm the fears of those who said that PFP was a "backdoor to NATO", since many of its past members had eventually joined NATO.
...
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While most neutral states do not allow any foreign military within their territory, Ireland has a long history of allowing military aircraft of various nations to refuel at Shannon Airport. Under the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order, 1952, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, exceptionally, could grant permission to foreign military aircraft to overfly or land in the State. Confirmation was required that the aircraft in question be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and that the flights in question would not form part of military exercises or operations.
In September 2001 these conditions were "waived in respect of aircraft operating in pursuit of the implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1368" (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dail Debate 17 December 2002). Irish governments have always said that allowing aircraft to use Irish soil does not constitute participation in any particular conflict and is compatible with a neutral stance, instancing the transit of German troops between Finland and Norway through neutral Swedish territory during World War II.[/i]...During the Cold War, Ireland maintained its policy of 'neutrality'. It did not align itself officially with NATO— or the Warsaw Pact either. It refused to join NATO ostensibly because Britain still controlled Northern Ireland. Ireland offered to set up a separate alliance with the USA but this was refused.

However, secret transmission of information from the government to the CIA started in 1955. The link was established by Liam Cosgrave via a Mr Cram and the Irish embassy in London, and was not revealed until December 2007.[2] In 1962-63, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Seán Lemass authorised searches of aircraft that stopped over at Shannon en route between Warsaw Pact countries, and Cuba, for "warlike material".[3]
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Ireland supported the campaign known as Operation Allied Force part of the Kosovo War(NATO), and the invasion of Afghanistan(NATO), in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks known as Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Irish government did not take a position on the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. United States Air Force planes were allowed to refuel at Shannon Airport during the conflict. As a member of the UN Security Council, Ireland voted yes to Resolution 1441 which threatened "serious consequences" if Iraq did not comply with weapons inspectors.*
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Irish soldiers have begun to be involved in offensive operations in recent times such as the special forces Army Rangers in operation in East Timor and the peace enforcement mission in Liberia: both missions were in accordance with the policy of having UN approval.

In February 2006, the Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea announced that the Irish government would open talks on joining the European Union battle groups. O'Dea said that joining the battlegroups would not affect Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality, and that a UN mandate would be required for all battlegroup operations with Irish participation. Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson John Gormley condemned the decision, saying that the government was "discarding the remnants of Irish neutrality"[5].
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Security_and_Defence_Policy

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The European Security and Defence Policy or ESDP is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar of the European Union (EU). The ESDP is the successor of the ESDI under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.

When the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified it creates a new post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (superseding the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, instead of a Union Foreign Minister per the failed Constitution.) However the post's ability to function independently of member states is limited through an agreement: [4]

The Conference also notes that the provisions covering CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) do not give new powers to the Commission to initiate decisions or increase the role of the European Parliament.
BTW -
Presidency Conclusions – Brussels, 21/22 June 2007 11177/1/07 REV 1 11 EN
41. Says:
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It is becoming increasingly evident that climate change will have a considerable impact on international security issues. The European Council invites the High Representative and the European Commission to work closely together on this important issue and to present a joint report to the European Council in Spring 2008.
The Wikipedia entry says the FG and the PDs are opposed to neutrality, FF favour the status quo and the Greens, Labour and SF favour full and explicit neutrality.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 7:41 pm

I've always found it funny that the greatest public outcry over the breach of our neutrality 'policy' wasn't Shannon and various dodgy activities but the sending of fire engines to Belfast during the second world war.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 7:45 pm

Back in the 80s when possible scenarios of a Soviet attack were often in the news, it was most often assumed that Shannon would be getting a few nukes. The Soviets were not going to have supplies landing there.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 7:50 pm

There is a body of though that says that the German bombing of Dublin was a deliberate 'mistake' to send a message that help from the South was not welcomed by the Germans. The excuse that the pilot thought Dublin was Liverpool means you believe the pilot did not notice that the sea was on the wrong side of the city
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 7:55 pm

I don`t think anybody would see us as the conscience of the English-speaking world to be honest 905. We`re not. There would be far more critical assessment of American and British policy within those countries than there would be here. Also I would think that our colonial past would be of much less relevence today than it would have been a generation ago. A generation ago people could identify people within the IRA as fighting against British rule. I think the fact that "Irish" units served with the British army in Iraq and the use of Shannon by the Americans would be much more likely to be known by potential enemies of the British and the Americans than what happened in 1916.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 8:07 pm

anmajornarthainig wrote:
I don`t think anybody would see us as the conscience of the English-speaking world to be honest 905. We`re not. There would be far more critical assessment of American and British policy within those countries than there would be here. Also I would think that our colonial past would be of much less relevence today than it would have been a generation ago. A generation ago people could identify people within the IRA as fighting against British rule. I think the fact that "Irish" units served with the British army in Iraq and the use of Shannon by the Americans would be much more likely to be known by potential enemies of the British and the Americans than what happened in 1916.
I was reading somewhere that in the UN the Irish were often called upon to help draft English documents as we were seen as more impartial than the average English-speaker. Ireland's colonial history would be a little more widely known than the existence of Irish regiments in the US and UK, though that's not a very steady balance.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 8:17 pm

905 wrote:
anmajornarthainig wrote:
I don`t think anybody would see us as the conscience of the English-speaking world to be honest 905. We`re not. There would be far more critical assessment of American and British policy within those countries than there would be here. Also I would think that our colonial past would be of much less relevence today than it would have been a generation ago. A generation ago people could identify people within the IRA as fighting against British rule. I think the fact that "Irish" units served with the British army in Iraq and the use of Shannon by the Americans would be much more likely to be known by potential enemies of the British and the Americans than what happened in 1916.
I was reading somewhere that in the UN the Irish were often called upon to help draft English documents as we were seen as more impartial than the average English-speaker. Ireland's colonial history would be a little more widely known than the existence of Irish regiments in the US and UK, though that's not a very steady balance.

The key word there is "were". I`d wager that a geneartion ago Ireland`s history would have been well known, but it`s a lot less relevent today and, therefore, much less likely to be of interest to people.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 8:30 pm

Sorry, I have no reason to believe that 'were' is any more relevant than 'are'. The source for that little nugget was Eamon... what's the name of the Magill editor? He wrote a book about his days in the foreign service. So what I referred to happened at the latest in the nineties and I can see no reason why it should have changed since then.

Delaney! Eamon Delaney, was in the UN around the time of the first Iraq war. He writes that he only appreciated Ireland's neutrality when he saw how much importance other countries attached to it. Ireland was (is for all I know) the man to go to for a non-Nato European perspective.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 8:39 pm

There seems to be a feeling that the perception that Ireland is neutral is useful. However from the above it appears that Ireland is not a neutral country and has in recent years become more and more involved in EU battlegroup formation and Shannon is drifting towards looking like a US base. Are people saying that we should put a stop to this? Where do we draw the line?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:18 pm

cactus flower wrote:
There seems to be a feeling that the perception that Ireland is neutral is useful. However from the above it appears that Ireland is not a neutral country and has in recent years become more and more involved in EU battlegroup formation and Shannon is drifting towards looking like a US base. Are people saying that we should put a stop to this? Where do we draw the line?

Hmm. I tend to think of our status as "non-aligned" rather than "neutral", but either way, peacekeeping under UN auspices is not an activity prejudicial to neutrality. We participate in the EU battlegroup system, but as long as these are used for peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, that is an extension of our existing peacekeeping activities.

Not only are the battlegroups not a credible fighting force (2 battlegroups of 1500 soldiers each), but their role and tasks are stated in the treaties. They are intended to operate under UN auspices, and at UN request, and Ireland cannot participate unless the triple lock conditions are satisfied.

Shannon I would regard as more prejudicial. While we do in fact allow aircraft of all nations to use Shannon, the US is certainly the major user, both in actual terms and in publicity terms.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:28 pm

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
There seems to be a feeling that the perception that Ireland is neutral is useful. However from the above it appears that Ireland is not a neutral country and has in recent years become more and more involved in EU battlegroup formation and Shannon is drifting towards looking like a US base. Are people saying that we should put a stop to this? Where do we draw the line?

Hmm. I tend to think of our status as "non-aligned" rather than "neutral", but either way, peacekeeping under UN auspices is not an activity prejudicial to neutrality. We participate in the EU battlegroup system, but as long as these are used for peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, that is an extension of our existing peacekeeping activities.

Not only are the battlegroups not a credible fighting force (2 battlegroups of 1500 soldiers each), but their role and tasks are stated in the treaties. They are intended to operate under UN auspices, and at UN request, and Ireland cannot participate unless the triple lock conditions are satisfied.

Shannon I would regard as more prejudicial. While we do in fact allow aircraft of all nations to use Shannon, the US is certainly the major user, both in actual terms and in publicity terms.

The Wikipedia site makes a clear distinction between peace keeping and the peace enforcement that Ireland now engages in. Do you not agree? Do you happen to have the references for the parts of the treaties that refer to battlegroups roles and tasks? I would be interested to read them. Do they set out rules of engagement, and if they don't who does?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:32 pm

the treaty says it won't change the 'character' of various peoples military stances, now i know all the meanings of the word character, but its still seems as if it is a cosmetic issue, that we're not really neutral, although we say we are and the lisbon treaty continues that sham.

if its a policy not a status what have we done recently to apply our neutrality policy.

i think FF still give the impression that we are NEUTRAL and only occasionally when pushed say something more real.

so most of the country including many nationalist ff voters think we're neutral and that's part of how they lost the first nice ref, by being vague about it and they continue in the same vein now.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:44 pm

What is neutral about Ireland's participation in the originally US led, now NATO led force that invaded Afghanistan ?

http://ie.indymedia.org/article/40733

http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/afghanistan/p/ISAF.htm

With the upswing in Taliban violence in 2006, ISAF troops began to fulfill a combat role, particularly in southern Afghanistan. On May 17, 2006, NATO launched Operation Mountain Thrust which was designed to root out Taliban fighters. Though heavy casualties were inflicted on the Taliban, the operation did not eliminate the insurgency. ISAF forces have also led or participated in numerous subsequent operations designed to end the fighting and bring stability to the country. A recent success occurred on May 12, 2007, when ISAF forces killed the notorious Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:50 pm

that's a UN thing though ain't it?

that's the excuse again ibis you can't keep quoting the triple lock thing seeing as the gov whip never vote against it.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 10:57 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
that's a UN thing though ain't it?

that's the excuse again ibis you can't keep quoting the triple lock thing seeing as we never vote against it.

It is combat. It doesn't matter whether its on behalf of the UN or whoever. Its war and its not neutral, is it?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 11:02 pm

i guess so, but if you asked the gov they'd probably say ah sure there only about ten of them there, and that its a security force or that sure they're only riding desks...or doing logistic or training or bomb dismantling ... fudge fudge fudge.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 11:06 pm

Hmm. Peace-keeping and peace enforcement are points along a spectrum. I am happy with the idea that Irish peacekeepers can fire back, if that's what you're asking (since that's a large part of the difference).

From an Irish point of view, it doesn't change how we operate.

This is Article 43:

The tasks referred to in Article 42(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories.

And this is 42.1 as referred to:

1. The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.

The one that would bother me there is "supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their own countries" which could be quite broadly interpreted.

In respect of this comment:

cactus flower wrote:
It is combat. It doesn't matter whether its on behalf of the UN or whoever. Its war and its not neutral, is it?

Neutrality is not about avoiding combat. It is about either (a) not joining in the large alliances, and/or (b) not taking sides in a conflict. Our 'neutrality' would not have been affected at all if we had chosen to intervene militarily in Rwanda, for example, even if we had picked a particular side. We would remain 'neutral' as far as the major 'sides' in the world go - and that is the definition that matters on the world stage. Nor does peace enforcement require picking a side - as long as you treat both sides in the conflict the same, that will do.

lostexpectation wrote:
that's a UN thing though ain't it?

that's the excuse again ibis you can't keep quoting the triple lock thing seeing as the gov whip never vote against it.

I don't think anything of the "government & parliament" bit of the triple lock at all. As far as I'm concerned it's a single lock - the UN resolution. Still, 'triple lock' is what it usually gets called.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 11:34 pm

Neutrality is precisely about avoiding combat though, isn't it. And if you take part in a conflict you are taking sides, unless you beat up on both sides at the same time.

The concept of neutrality in war is narrowly defined and puts specific constraints on the neutral party in return for the internationally recognized right to remain neutral. A wider concept is that of non-belligerence. The basic international law covering neutral territories is the Second Hague Convention.


Art. 17.
A neutral cannot avail himself of his neutrality

(a) If he commits hostile acts against a belligerent;

(b) If he commits acts in favor of a belligerent, particularly if he voluntarily enlists in the ranks of the armed force of one of the parties. In such a case, the neutral shall not be more severely treated by the belligerent as against whom he has abandoned his neutrality than a national of the other belligerent State could be for the same act.

Would Article 43 cover the invasion of Iraq?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 11:37 pm

cactus flower wrote:

(b) If he commits acts in favor of a belligerent, particularly if he voluntarily enlists in the ranks of the armed force of one of the parties. In such a case, the neutral shall not be more severely treated by the belligerent as against whom he has abandoned his neutrality than a national of the other belligerent State could be for the same act.

Would Article 43 cover the invasion of Iraq?

We could get off the hook on that one, relating to Iraq, by saying that, instead of committing acts on favour of a belligerent, we just didn't commit acts against a belligerent. We could say we did nothing, rather than doing something.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Neutral Country? And should we be Neutral?   Mon May 19, 2008 11:37 pm

ibis wrote:
Hmm. Peace-keeping and peace enforcement are points along a spectrum. I am happy with the idea that Irish peacekeepers can fire back, if that's what you're asking (since that's a large part of the difference).

From an Irish point of view, it doesn't change how we operate.

This is Article 43:

The tasks referred to in Article 42(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories.

And this is 42.1 as referred to:

1. The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.

The one that would bother me there is "supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their own countries" which could be quite broadly interpreted.

In respect of this comment:

cactus flower wrote:
It is combat. It doesn't matter whether its on behalf of the UN or whoever. Its war and its not neutral, is it?

Neutrality is not about avoiding combat. It is about either (a) not joining in the large alliances, and/or (b) not taking sides in a conflict. Our 'neutrality' would not have been affected at all if we had chosen to intervene militarily in Rwanda, for example, even if we had picked a particular side. We would remain 'neutral' as far as the major 'sides' in the world go - and that is the definition that matters on the world stage. Nor does peace enforcement require picking a side - as long as you treat both sides in the conflict the same, that will do.

lostexpectation wrote:
that's a UN thing though ain't it?

that's the excuse again ibis you can't keep quoting the triple lock thing seeing as the gov whip never vote against it.

I don't think anything of the "government & parliament" bit of the triple lock at all. As far as I'm concerned it's a single lock - the UN resolution. Still, 'triple lock' is what it usually gets called.

I'd tend to agree with your thoughts. Although I think the idea of whether UN mandated actions breach neutrality (I don't believe they do) is interesting because on some measures any action we take, say even within the UN could be seen as impinging on certain forms (or perhaps more accurately perceptions of) neutrality. Burma is a perfect example. If neutral why should we take any position on Burma? But that clearly is absurd. We have a moral imperative to do so... Another important thing touched upon above is the necessity to see how 'sovereignty' has been intertwined with neutrality. Someone once said that true sovereignty required the means to defend oneself and argued that the UK had ceded that means once they permitted the US to have bases on UK territory and a controlling interest in their nuclear deterrent. In our case? Sovereignty? Entirely contingent on friendly neighbours and a reasonably rational international foreign relations environment.

And that tends to make me a bit sceptical about the lofty claims about neutrality and its worthiness (although I do tend to agree with the idea also made above that it assisted us to some extent in our relations with other countries, although often it wasn't our neutrality as much as our lack of neutrality between 1916 and 1921 to the UK!
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