On the 13th of March it was reported that Defence Minister Alan Shatter confirmed eight Irish soldiers and 18 from the UK will travel to Mali with the Royal Irish Regiment.
During the campaigns leading up to the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, No-campaigners warned of the possible loss of Irish neutrality and the militarization of the EU – they were ignored. Now the government is deploying Irish soldiers to a war zone, not on a peace keeping mission but in a mission led by the EU to train military units.
This step is one in a long line of government decisions in blatant disregard of the Irish constitution, which states in article 29:
1. Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.
2. Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination.
3. Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.
The deployment of Irish soldiers to train the Malian army contravenes the constitution especially article 29.2.
Military exercise in Dublin
Between the 11th and 15th of March the government allowed a military excercise to take place in Dublin sponsored by the US European command EUCOM. It was called combined endeavor. To my knowledge none of the Irish mainstream media reported on this. I only became aware of it through a news article from Azerbaijan and an article here on this web site.
Allowing military excercises surely does not represent devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.
Sanctions on Syria
On Sept. 28 2012 the Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said in a speech to the UN assembly that Ireland supports tougher sanctions against the regime in Syria. In an article on this I wrote:
It becomes clearer by the day that our so called representatives have no regard for truth or for the Irish constitution.
Instead of supporting initiatives to convince the so called “opposition” to come to the table to resolve the conflict in Syria he poured oil into the fire by supporting the regime change agenda of those who have an interest to bring chaos and sectarian division to the whole of the Middle East to further their sinister agenda of divide and conquer. The main obstacle to a resolution of this conflict is the refusal of the so called “Opposition” in Syria to come to the negotiating table . Sanctions only hit the Syrian people.
No lessons learned
Let us remember the result of the sanctions put on Iraq. An estimated 500,000 children died as a result of these sanctions . Several high ranking people within the UN resigned in protest, among them the former UN humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad Dennis Halliday who resigned in 1998 in protest to these measures. He said at the time:
“What is happening in Iraq is a complete breach of international humanitarian law…. punishing a people in order to get at their ruler.” 
Hans von Sponeck, who took over after the resignation of Mr. Halliday, resigned in 2000 for the same reasons as Mr. Halliday. In a joint article in The Guardian they explained their position, accusing the sanctions regime of violating the Geneva Conventions and other international laws and causing the death of thousands of Iraqis.
With his support for tougher sanctions on Syria Mr. Gilmore has now joined those who justify these crimes.
Sanctions on Iran
On the 23rd of Jan. 2012 the national broadcaster RTE Radio One (News at One) reported that Ireland through its Foreign Minister, namely Eamon Gilmore, supported the sanctions on Iran during a meeting of the European Union. EU governments agreed to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, buy or transport Iranian crude oil, a move to put pressure on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme by shutting off its main source of foreign income….. At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, EU governments also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and to ban all trade in diamonds, gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies.
In an open letter published on this web site it was stated:
The Government’s support of the EU sanctions violates all three aforementioned provisions of article 29 because these sanctions, unauthorized by the UN,
cannot be deemed to be “friendly co-operation founded on international justice” (29.1),
are violating “the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination” (29.2),
and “the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States” (29.3).
We demand an immediate officially announced and published rectification of this unconstitutional decision.
Given the current volatility in the region, Ireland should not under any circumstances participate in or support actions which further escalate the situation.
What is needed from the Irish Government is not to participate in such irresponsible and unlawful policy but to try and defuse the situation through dialogue. It should work directly with all nations including Iran according to the UN charta and the Irish Constitution for a peaceful settlement. We demand that the Government use all diplomatic means to communicate with all parties to bring about a peaceful and just solution.
Irish soldiers in Afghanistan
On the 18th of March 2012 independent TD (member of the Irish parliament) Mick Wallace raised the question in the Dail (Irish parliament):
At present there are 526 Irish soldiers serving in 11 different countries around the world. Seven of these soldiers are currently based in Afghanistan where violence has flared over the past number of weeks with stories surfacing of American and British soldiers abusing Afghani civilians. Is there a need for our soldiers to be based in countries like Afghanistan?
Most people in Ireland are not even aware of this fact. The participation of Irish soldiers in a war under Nato/US command and illegal under international law is certainly not constitutional.
Allowing rendition flights to use Irish airports
A report published by the Open Society Justice Initiative on the 5th of February shows that some 54 countries helped to facilitate the CIA’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation programme in the years after 9/11, including Ireland.
It says countries participated in various ways with the US programme, which is a crime under international law. That included:
– hosting detention and / or “interrogation” (torture) facilities on their soil
– detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals
– assisting in the capture and transport of detainees and permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees.
The report says that Ireland permitted the use of its airspace and airports associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations and references several examples since 2002.
The news site thejournal.ie reported (emphasis added):
“A 2007 European Parliament report expressed serious concern about the 147 stopovers made by CIA-operated aircraft at Irish airports that on many occasions “came from or were bound for countries linked with extraordinary rendition circuits and the transfer of detainees”.
“U.S. court records from a lawsuit involving Richmor Aviation, a company that operated CIA extraordinary rendition flights, also show that at least 13 flights operated by Richmor involving U.S. personnel landed in Ireland between 2002 and 2004.”
“Richmor-operated flights were involved in the extraordinary rendition of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar, and are also suspected of having refueled at Shannon before transporting Abd al Nashiri, alleged to be the mastermind of the bombing of the navy missile destroyer the USS Cole .”
“Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that former Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern told US Ambassador Thomas Foley that he was “quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere.”
Commenting on this Amnesty International Ireland stated:
“We have repeatedly called for an independent investigation into the use of Shannon airport. This investigation must also make clear who knew that we were complicit in torture and why they failed to act.”
The Irish government has permanently acted in blatant disregard of the Irish constitution and in the case of knowingly allowing CIA flights to use Irish airspace and airports is complicit in facilitating torture, a crime under international law.
It is evident that the notion of Irish neutrality has now become a mere illusion. De facto Ireland is moulding its foreign policy to the requirements of NATO and the EU, the same way as it moulds its economic policy to the requirements of the global banking cabal.
It is high time that the people of Ireland get rid of this political elite that has no regard for the plight of its own people, nor respect for international law or the constitution. All forces standing for a meaningful change of Irish politics must make a concerted effort to find common ground across ideological differences and develop a viable alternative to the current entrenched traditional parties to give the people of Ireland the chance to peacefully transform their parliament. At the same time a strong grassroots movement must develop around the country to hold the government to account and prevent abuse of power by those elected.
R. Teichmann is an activist within the Awaken Ireland movement and can be contacted via [email protected]. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.