Published in Peace Planet News, Spring 2020
According to its Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland’s foreign policy is based on a set of core principles that include the maintenance of peace and security as enshrined in the UN Charter; promoting and protecting Ireland’s interests abroad; respect for and the promotion of human rights; and a commitment to the rule of international law. Over the past two decades these commitments have been eroded however. This has been particularly evident in two key areas. The first is Ireland’s participation in the European Union's Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative on security and defence (PESCO). This is the part of the EU’s security and defence policy (CSDP) in which 25 of the 27 national armed forces pursue structural integration. PESCO member states are expected to increase defence budgets, provide troops for use in EU Battle-Groups, and join “structures partaking in European external action in the military field”. The second clear and obvious breach of Ireland’s commitment to the maintenance of peace and the rule of international law is the ongoing use of Shannon Airport on the west coast by the US military. The effective transformation of Shannon into a US forward operating base in 2002/2003 was, and still is, deeply offensive to the majority of Irish people. In allowing it to be used for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Irish government at the time was guided more by a desire to accede to the demands of the Bush administration than to serve the interests or wishes of its own people. Almost two decades later, US military and military contracted planes still pass through Shannon on a daily basis.