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FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny was questioned on RTÉ Radio This Week programme on Sunday, April 5, by Gerard Barry on the statement by (Captain) Billy Timmins TD, that Ireland should abandon neutrality and join EU common defence arrangements.
Kenny responded that: “There is a constitutional prohibition on Ireland abandoning neutrality” and then proceeded to misinterpret and downplay what Timmins had said at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis.
When further prompted by Gerard Barry that Billy Timmins had said the Ireland should be part of a common EU defence, Enda Kenny repeated his statement that: “there is, as you know, a constitutional prohibition on ending neutrality and that ultimately is a matter for the Irish people”.
This is a false statement. Bunreacht na hEireann, The Irish Constitution, contains no prohibition whatsoever on Ireland abandoning neutrality.
There is no mention of neutrality in the Irish Constitution. Kenny’s apparent ignorance of the Constitution on a matter of this importance is of grave concern, given that he aspires to be the next Taoiseach of Ireland.
Some neutral states such as Austria, Finland and Switzerland have neutrality enshrined in their respective constitutions. Ireland does not have any constitutional provision or article dealing with neutrality.
In Ireland’s case, neutrality is a declared policy of successive Irish Governments, since at least 1939, that Ireland will pursue a policy of neutrality.
This commits the Irish Government to comply with international laws and treaties on neutrality, particularly The Hague Convention V 1907 on Neutrality, which forbids the passage of belligerent troops through a state such as Ireland that declares itself to be a neutral state.
The High Court ruling by Judge Kearns in April 2003 in Horgan v Ireland confirmed this, and found Ireland to be in breach of international laws on neutrality. The Irish people have consistently supported a continuation of neutrality, and the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance are campaigning to have positive neutrality enshrined as an article in the Irish Constitution.
Before Enda Kenny and Capt Billy Timmins send Irish soldiers off to another European war, as their “forefathers” John Redmond and Major Willie Redmond did in 1914, the least they might do is read Bunreacht na hEireann. At least Willie Redmond went to fight and die in World War I.
However, history should warn us that politicians normally fight to the last drop of everyone else’s blood.
International Secretary, Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance
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