Return to Recent Articles menu

Is Ireland neutral?

No, it's a stooge for imperialism

10 February 2022

Ireland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council in 1999.

The US sabre rattling in Europe has seen an explosion of hysteria in the Dublin press, especially following suggested Russian naval exercises in nearby international waters.

There are a number of arguments. The Irish state wants to have its cake and eat it. We represent a geopolitical target and we must either pay the cost of neutrality by massively increasing defence spending or join European military structures. It is claimed that we are not neutral, but defenceless, without any military strategy.

These critiques are not without purpose. The Commission on the Defences Forces published a new report calling for a doubling of defence spending.

The Commission warned that maintaining current capabilities would leave Ireland without a credible military capacity to protect the country.

It outlined three potential levels of ambition with up to €3 billion investment required to implement the highest level.

Sinn Féin, following their move to the right on the Special Criminal Court, has recently called for increased military spending in the name of fair play for soldiers

The responses to these claims are pretty low key. Ireland is a neutral country and it should maintain that status.

Only it's not.

Ireland is not a neutral country. It pursued a policy of neutrality in the Second World War, but there is no constitutional commitment and Ireland is clearly in the US and NATO orbit. Later it was seen as the nice helpful United Nations military agents before the illusion of UN independence faded away. In the current circumstances you have hysteria about the Russian menace while US troops flood through Shannon Airport on their way to the European theatre of (potential) war, an activity that pales into insignificance given Irish collaboration in US invasion, rendition and torture

Claims of neutrality are a facade.  They serve to disguise the fact that the capitalist class rule as the representatives of imperialism in Ireland and are fully committed to US and European reaction. The disguise is needed to placate a widespread and popular sentiment which is labelled neutrality but is in reality anti-imperialism. The majority of the working class want nothing to do with military alliances with the old enemy - British imperialism - or with their allies or with policies designed to spread bloodshed and suffering across the world. They are unlikely to support a swollen military budget while so much of their standard of living is in hock to the banks and speculators.

The claim is made that Ireland is defenceless. That's not the case. The state has always had the resources to meet its needs. The main need has been to suppress the movements for Irish self-determination and working-class freedom. The army, the Garda heavy squad and the Special Criminal Court have been sufficient for that.

We should support the voices of those who oppose the war drums and dream of neutrality, but socialists and democrats should aim for an international solidarity of the workers and oppressed and for the dismantling of the imperialist world order with its menu of endless war. As a starting point the Free State army should be replaced with a workers’ militia.

Return to top of page