Ken Foxe’s report that the State is insisting that the Government of Ireland logo be used in promotional material for Óglaigh na hÉireann is very worrying ‘Army told to include State logo on promo material’ (Irish Examiner, November 1).
It displays an utter ignorance by the civilian secretariat of the State’s and defence forces’ obligations under international military law, and follows on from the secretariat’s continued infringement with the command and leadership functions for the defence forces established under the Constitution.
The defence forces cap badge with the “Óglaigh na hÉireann” emblem complies under the Geneva Conventions as Ireland’s armed forces’ “distinctive sign”.
The conventions state for example:
“In particular, this compliance requires combatants to distinguish themselves from civilians, except in particular circumstances (see point C below) by a uniform or other distinctive sign, visible and recognizable [sic] at a distance, while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack. Violation by a combatant of the rules applicable in armed conflict is punishable but if this combatant at least carries his arms openly during the engagement, he is not deprived of his right to the status of prisoner of war in case of capture. If the Party to which these armed forces belong omits or deliberately refuses to enforce compliance with these rules, it can result in all members of these forces losing their status of combatant and prisoner of war.”
Clearly, the Defence Forces may not operate under a civilian logo, and neither may civilians seek to be recognised under a logo which distinguishes armed combatants.
As can be seen on the Department of Defence website the civilian secretariat has established what they call the “military organisation” in which they have assigned to themselves functions which are more proper to officers who hold their commissions from the President under the Constitution, and who are subject to and exercise military discipline. In addition to their infringement with the Constitution, they are also flying in the face of the International Conventions for the organisation and command of armed forces, eg: “To be recognized [sic] as such, the armed forces of a Party to a conflict must be organized [sic] and placed under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or other authority not recognized [sic] by the adverse Party. In addition, these armed forces must be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, inter alia, enforces compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflicts.”
North King St