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Multiple reasons why neutral Ireland should not arm up

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Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Critics of Ireland’s policy of neutrality and relative lack of military capability tend to call for us to join Nato or else to expend many billions of euro on fighters, tanks and Navy ships to develop an independent capability to defend ourselves.

Firstly, the notion that we could ever achieve a level of military capability sufficient to repel a major nuclear and conventional military power is laughable, not to mention the effect it would have of creating a very militarised society here.

Secondly, the possession of some such capability would make us more of a target for a potential military adversary, for fear of us directing that capability against them. Far from making us more secure, it would therefore make us more vulnerable to attack.

Thirdly, our neutrality, and relative lack of capability to attack others makes us more acceptable as a neutral third-party, peace-keeping force and developmental partner who isn’t using developmental aid as cover for neo-colonial domination or arms sales.

Fourthly, in a world ever more dominated by increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons systems, the survival of the human race depends not on ever more arms purchases, but on developing our capabilities in diplomatic and peaceful conflict resolution, something we have some recognised expertise in.

But finally, and most importantly, the wars of tomorrow will increasingly be dominated by cyber-warfare, misinformation and remote-controlled robotic drone and missile technologies which bear little relationship to the battleships, aircraft carriers, bombers, fighter jets, tanks and artillery of today.

If we must invest in increased military hardware and software, let it at least be appropriate to the real risks we will face in the future, and not some tokenistic homage to the defunct military strategies and weaponries of the past.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Hopefully Ireland will not follow UK abortion template

Now that the Dáil has passed the plan to build the new National Maternity Hospital on the grounds of St Vincent’s at Elm Park, the retention of the term “clinically appropriate” is essential, when we look at the progression of abortion in the UK.

Abortion was allowed in the UK subject to specific conditions initially laid down in the 1967 UK Act.

Back then, most of the cases were justified on the grounds of risk to the physical or mental health of the mother.

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Perhaps it is possible that the number of women in the UK facing physical or mental risk from allowing their pregnancy to go to full term could go up tenfold. The more likely explanation is abortions became easier to get and less troublesome to perform.

The specific grounds for abortion laid out in the 1967 Act seem to have timed out, but few people in the UK seem exercised.

With the falling numbers in our churches, and the continual attack on the Catholic Church, one can only hope that Ireland does not follow the UK.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

Fanaticism of the nation and religion are root of conflicts

Throughout history there has been a two-pronged attack on the notion of individual equality.

The two prongs consist of religious fanaticism or politicised nationalism.

Both have been and are used to distract the attention of the individual away from his or her poverty, class or governmental oppression and channel any disquiet into an alienation of “others”. For example, the use of term “nationalism” in the current conflict taking place in Ukraine is a tactic by wealthy Russians to occupy the minds of their electorate who may come to envy the democratic lifestyle in Ukraine.

In the religious case, look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is happening is actually a civil war between two entitled parties who are indigenous to the region.

We have our own history of the perils of nationalism and religious fanaticism.

Eugene Tannam

Dublin 24

Tory’s protocol manoeuvre is a smokescreen for Partygate

The attempt by UK foreign secretary Liz Truss to introduce legislation to amend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol is a smokescreen for Boris Johnson and his No10 party-goers who are awaiting the possible incendiary report from Sue Gray.

This curve ball being thrown by the British government, in order to appease the unionist minority in Northern Ireland, will be seen by many as an attempt by the Tories to deflect from their own difficulties, while propping up a leader who is only just treading water.

The EU and the Irish Government must see through this charade

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal


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