For Taoiseach Brian Cowen to use the neutrality issue and the fear of conscription to a European army as a vote-catcher for Lisbon is a real red herring and utter hypocrisy.
We accepted all the concessions – money, status and power – that membership of the EEC and EU bestowed on us for more than a quarter of a century. In the event of the union being at war with another of the world’s great trading blocs, could we stand idly by and hope to remain unscathed?
In the current economic climate, with rapidly rising unemployment, if the opportunity presented itself there would be a mad rush of young Irishmen desperate to be recruited as members of a European Defence Force.
Irish soldiers were well known for their bravery and commitment, having served in European armies for centuries and later in regiments of the British army, accounting for 32% of crown forces in 1834.
The Irish Guards, Royal Irish Regiment and the London-Irish Rifles still exist. Their contribution to the UN peacekeeping forces is well documented. Irish neutrality laws were never viewed as carved in stone. Tales from the Second World War to the refuelling of US planes at Shannon on combat missions to Iraq are but some of the flaws that come to mind.
The Government’s appended neutrality guarantee to the Lisbon Treaty doesn’t make an iota of difference.
The people of Ireland currently realise how dependent on Europe we really are and will vote accordingly.
James A Gleeson