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Irish Neutrality League launches on UN International Day of Peace       printable version
21 Sep 2022: posted by the editor - General, International, Ireland

The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) announced today that the Irish Neutrality League (INL) was formally launched, coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Peace, Wednesday 21st September.

The Irish Neutrality League is described by the IAWM as a civil society campaign to bring pressure on the Irish Government to assert Ireland’s neutrality positively on the world stage, to be a voice for peace and human rights and to oppose wars and militarisation. It is founded at this time to challenge the worrying signals from the current Irish Government regarding the militarisation of Europe and the world and the possibility of Ireland joining military alliances when instead the Government should be using Ireland’s neutral status in a positive way to encourage diplomacy, peaceful negotiations and demilitarisation.

The INL has been developed by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the IAWM in conjunction with Independent Senators Frances Black, Alice Mary Higgins and Tom Clonan, and TDs Catherine Connolly, Chris Andrews, Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy. The INL’s founding statement (copied below) defines Irish neutrality as non-participation in wars and military alliances, as set out in the 1907 Hague Convention V, and as the positive engagement in the peaceful, non-military resolution of political conflicts.

The statement has now been signed by more TDs and Senators, MEPs, Trade Unionists and many leading Irish personalities and academics including broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne, actor Sinéad Cusack, singer and author Declan O Rourke, singer Mary Coughlan, musician Donal Lunny, former Irish Rugby player Trevor Hogan and Professors Kathleen Lynch (Emeritus UCD), Damian Mc Cormack (Temple St Children's University Hospital), Michael Cronin (TCD), Helena Sheehan (Emeritus DCU), Colin Coulter (Maynooth University) and Dr. Karen Devine (DCU) among others from the world of academia.

IRISH NEUTRALITY LEAGUE – founding statement
‘The Irish Neutrality League campaigns for the protection and strengthening of Ireland’s neutrality. We do this in the spirit of the Irish Neutrality League first established in 1914 at the outbreak of World War 1, by the key figures who would later lead the 1916 Rising, and as such note that Ireland’s neutrality is clearly linked to its sovereign independence and remains a core element of its national identity.

We define Irish neutrality as non-participation in wars and military alliances, as set out in the 1907 Hague Convention V, and as the positive engagement in the peaceful, non-military resolution of political conflicts. As a country that faced hundreds of years of oppression and colonial subjugation by empire, we further understand neutrality as a tradition of solidarity with all the nations and peoples of the world who are victims of imperialism, colonialism, war and oppression.   

We recognise that neutral countries, including Ireland, have contributed to peaceful coexistence between nations over the decades. Ireland’s excellent international reputation, that of its people and of its armed forces in participating in UN Peacekeeping missions, in leading humanitarian support, in advocating for human rights and decolonisation, its role in promoting nuclear non-proliferation treaties and in negotiating the global ban on cluster munitions, is overwhelmingly linked to its neutrality and opposition to empire. Neutrality, along with our record as a voice for peace and international law, imbues Ireland with a credible moral authority to oppose military aggression from whatever quarter and to act as a legitimate voice for the use of diplomatic means and peaceful negotiations to resolve military conflicts.

To further erode Ireland’s neutrality beyond what has already occurred since 2003 - with the use of Shannon airport by the US Military - would fundamentally damage that reputation, make us less significant and less effective on the world stage and likely embroil us in more illegal and unjustified wars by larger world powers. We oppose the invasion of sovereign states by larger powers and recognise the right of states to self-determination. We also oppose the escalation of conflicts and the dangerous militarisation of the world, particularly when such critical issues of world hunger, nuclear proliferation and climate change threaten the survival of humanity.

The role of a neutral state such as Ireland is to be a voice of diplomacy, human rights, humanitarian support and peace in opposition to all imperialist wars, colonialism and oppression. We therefore reject moves by any Irish government to use any international conflict as an excuse to abandon neutrality and involve Ireland in supporting or facilitating wars, joining military alliances and increasing European and world militarisation.

We note that every opinion poll taken on the issue showed an overwhelming majority of Irish people value Irish neutrality and favour retaining it.

The Irish Neutrality League is a civil society campaign to bring pressure on the Irish Government to assert Ireland’s neutrality positively on the world stage, to be a voice for peace and human rights and oppose wars and militarisation. We call on the Government to commit to and reflect the “ideal of peace”, the “generally recognised principles of international law” and the “pacific settlement of international disputes” as referred to in Article 29, Bunreacht na hÉireann.

We also call on the Government to further copper-fasten Irish neutrality by holding a referendum to enshrine it into the Constitution.’

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