Irish Neutrality - To be or not to be?
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
“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
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
And yet, bold statements to American newspapers were not followed up with concrete policies back home to confirm our military commitment to an integrated
“We have no traditional policy of neutrality in this country unlike countries such as
He emphasised that
This view had been supported by Eamonn de Valera back in 1948 when he had said; “If a war occurs we may take one side, or we may take the other or we may be neutral”. This clearly is not compatible with permanent neutrality.