Ms. Alanna O Malley‘s opinion piece (Irish neutrality is not a free ride on the back of NATO, 02 February) asserts that Geraldine Byrne-Nason’s contribution to the debate at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday, and in particular “by making Russia answerable in this public forum“ somehow ingratiates Ireland with the mantle of a more credible neutrality thus potentially asserting “our identity as proactive peacemakers“.
A quick review of Ms. Byrne-Nason’s speech however paints a somewhat different picture. While she certainly called for the need for "de-escalation, diplomacy and dialogue" she is quite clear that the tension in Ukraine arises only from Russia’s military build-up. NATO’s aggression is not mentioned once. It gets a free ride on the culpability front.
We should not be surprised by this partisan stance given, not that Ireland accepts a free ride from NATO as Ms. O Malley suggests, but that successive Irish Governments have actively supported it over the last 20 years and continue to do so.
Millions of US troops and a number of extraordinary rendition flights have stopped at Shannon Airport on their way to and from disastrous wars with the full and unquestioned imprimatur of successive Irish Governments. This collusion with NATO member states continues as we read in your newspaper of the military exercises carried out by the RAF (“British aircraft increase activity off Ireland ahead of Russian drills", 01 February), ironically on the same day that Ms. Byrne-Nason was highlighting Russia’s aggression. That such exercises occurred "within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ)" is noted without a hint of embarrassment or concern by your reporters and met with silence from the Government. It does not require much serious investigation to ascertain that such military exercises by NATO countries have frequently taken place within the Irish EEZ - just ask the fishermen.
If the Irish Government is sincere about the honourable ambition of acting as an honest broker between warring nations that would allow it as Ms. O‘ Malley suggests, to "assert our identity as proactive peacemakers“, then it must condemn unequivocally and equally the dangerous warmongering of both NATO and Russia over Ukraine and call for all military exercises within the Irish EEZ to stop. It could start doing this, in a non-partisan manner, at the UNSC. And of course it should once and for all remove the free-riding facility to the US military at Shannon Airport.
PRO Irish Anti-War Movement,
PO Box 9260,