Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Commencement Matters

European Security Strategy

2:30 pm

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

It is a very sad day. In times of far more pressure during the 1940s members of the Minister of State's party and other parties met to discuss the role Ireland would play. I was looking back on those debates from the 1940s, in which one Member said, "This country belongs not to the Government or to any political party: it is the common heritage of Irish men and women of all classes." These comments were made under great international pressure.

The decision the Minister of State is proposing to the Oireachtas will damage not only Ireland's heritage and record, but also our capacity in the future. We have thrown away the opportunity to lead out a new approach that focuses on peace building. The Minister of State invoked the UN and quoted what I note is the only reference to the UN in the PESCO document. However, he has not said whether he agrees that Europe needs to focus on peace building rather than simply security or told us what role he sees for Ireland in championing a peace building approach.

Finally, regarding the European defence fund, how, if we have multi-country procurement, can we be assured that the weapons we co-purchase will only be used in accord with the triple-lock? Perhaps the Minister of State has this strategy in place and can reassure us in that respect. Again, I hope we will have a debate in the Seanad as well as debates in the Dáil on this issue. An opportunity has been missed. Europe is moving in the wrong direction in respect of militarisation and Ireland has joined in that flotilla rather than providing a new, much-needed focus on peace building and diplomacy, which will save our Union and contribute to global peace in very dangerous and hawkish times.


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