THE CIRCULAR

Ireland’s Neutrality as Russia Wages War

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifies, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Taoiseach Micheál Martin have both made clear statements on Ireland’s support for Ukraine. Ireland’s neutrality has been front and centre during Irish discussions of the crisis with some commentators, including Government party TD’s, urging direct action. Deputy Neale Richmond referred to Putin as a “thug” twice during the debate in the Dáil on Wednesday 23rd February 2022 and said “Members opposite avidly talk about neutrality, but there are occasions when we have to realise we cannot stand ourselves alone. “

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, image used with permission from merrionstreet.ie

The Government rarely speaks on foreign affairs without first seeing the response of the EU, which in this case was swift and decisive:

“The decision of the Russian Federation to recognise as independent entities and send Russian troops to certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts is illegal and unacceptable. It violates international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia’s own international commitments and it further escalates the crisis.”

Coveney said “Ireland is unwavering in its support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The Minister went on to discuss the importance of the international rules-based order, promising “severe consequences,” and reassured the Dáil that sanctions announced by the EU would be swiftly implemented “Ireland will work to ensure that all EU sanctions are implemented here, including in respect of financial services and the IFSC”

In the hours following the announcement, Coveney spoke on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland

“Ireland is a neutral country, we’re militarily non-aligned, but we are certainly not neutral on an issue like this, when there is blatant aggression happening on the continent of Europe.

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) released a statement on 24th February having spoken at an Irish Anti War Movement Rally at the gates of the Dáil that afternoon. Chairperson Roger Cole stated “This is an ideal time for our Minister of Foreign Affairs to advance Irish neutrality by de-escalating the warmongering, with an update on that old Irish Citizen Army slogan “We serve neither NATO nor Russia, but Ireland”.

Cole had spoken at an event in Belfast the previous evening stating that Irish neutrality was under threat:

Dr Ed Horgan of Shannonwatch group is a retired Commandant UN Peacekeeper. He wrote in LookLeft magazine earlier this week:

Irish neutrality has a long and honourable history, dating back to Wolfe Tone, who advocated for Irish independence and neutrality in the 1790s. The Irish Neutrality League was active in 1914 and vocal in opposition to British plans to introduce conscription in Ireland. 

They used the slogan: “We serve neither king nor kaiser, but Ireland”.

Opinion polling has consistently shown that the Irish public is in favour of maintaining neutrality. The latest poll was a Sunday Independent/Ireland thinks poll published on 6th February 2022 which showed 54% of respondents against Ireland joining NATO.

As this debate rages on, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday 25th February 2022 that 137 civilians and military personnel had been killed by Russian military aggression so far.

They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven,” Zelenskyy said, referring to Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians in Ireland are frustrated and afraid for their families at home:

Give us your thoughts: Do you believe Ireland should remain neutral?

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