Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Use of Irish Airspace and Landing Facilities: (Resumed) Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
I thank the Senator for his questions. He is correct that while I do not have a formal role for foreign policy in regard to neutrality, I am a member of the Cabinet and have collective responsibility regarding that matter. The two defining characteristics for me in regard to our neutrality are, first, our non-participation in military alliances. Second, I would interpret it as being the role we play, and have played, in terms of the values with regard to the rule of law and human rights. They are the two defining characteristics of our policy of neutrality.
As Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs, a role I held before I became Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I saw in great detail the strategic value of that policy to our State because while I would justify it in terms of principles, it is the right policy for our country. It means also that we can bring value and a perspective to discussions on foreign policy matters. That is valuable and allows us to project our values and beliefs in what is currently a volatile and difficult world.
On the second question the Senator put to me about Shannon Airport, the security status of all our airports is monitored constantly. The security of our airports is primarily a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality and the Garda Síochána, but I am confident that matter is taken very seriously and that everything necessary is done to preserve the security status of our airports.