Irish Anti War Movement condemns the proposal that Irish Naval Service is to participate in EU Naval Force, Operation Sophia


The Irish Anti War Movement condemns the proposal that Irish Naval Service is to participate in EU Naval Force, Operation Sophia.

The Government has announced that the Dail will be asked to approve the Irish Naval Service changing its role in the Mediterranean from a purely humanitarian mission of rescuing migrants at risk of drowning to a more aggressive military role that includes intercepting and arresting people-trafficking criminals and militias and destroying and sinking their boats. It would appear that this is being rushed through the Dáil at short notice in order to comply with the so-called triple lock, which involves the necessity to achieve UN, Dáil and Government approval for any overseas missions by the Defence Forces. The fact that this new mission has UN approval does not necessarily mean it is appropriate for our Defence Forces.

In 17 March 2011, at the behest of the UK, France and the USA, the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 approved a limited military action by NATO forces in Libya, supposedly to protect civilians in the Bengazi region. NATO and EU military forces went on to abuse this UN approval to effect regime change including the overthrow and murder of the Libyan President Qaddafi, leaving Libya in total chaos ever since. Since there is still no clear Government in Libya, it will be almost impossible to distinguish between boats off the coast of Libya being operated by criminals, militias or Libyan naval or coastguard services.

It is clear that this proposal already has the support of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the two parties most responsible for ending Irish neutrality, by allowing US military use of Shannon airport. If Operation Sophia is approved by Dáil Eireann, as US military use of Shannon was in 2003, it will also be the wrong decision for several reasons. Firstly it will be a further breach of Irish neutrality, because by joining the EU naval force our Naval Service will be joining a military alliance contrary to the Hague Convention on Neutrality. Since the Irish Naval Service could find itself attacking and sinking a Libyan naval ship, by accident or design, this would be an act of war, and needless to say, a clear breach of Ireland’s so-called ‘military neutrality’.

Ireland is no longer part of the British Empire, with a spurious mission to ‘take up the white man’s burden’ and civilise the world, yet a certain cohort of our politicians seem to believe that Ireland should still be playing such an arrogant and destructive role, even though we account for less than 0.07% of the world’s population. Ireland’s foreign policy should not be supporting the UN or anyone else to make war, but should be based on active neutrality, promoting reform of the UN to enable the UN to carry out its proper role of creating international peace.

Edward Horgan of the IAWM Steering Committee said:
“Our Naval Service should continue to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean on a twelve month unilateral basis, and any such migrants so rescued should be granted protection in Ireland as we are obliged under the Dublin Convention. Operation Sophia could easily degenerate with disastrous consequences as Operation Unified Protector did in Libya in 2011, and Operation Enduring Freedom did in Afghanistan in 2001, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 did in Iraq.”

Edward Horgan, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 851 9623
Jim Roche, PRO, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 647 2737
Glenda Cimino, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 124 9456
John Molyneux, Secretary, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 735 6424
Michael Youlton, Chair, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 815 9487
Memet Uludag, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 7919307

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