- 10th June 2003
James Connolly, the founder of the Irish labour party in 1912 was an early advocate of Irish Neutrality.
Connolly believed that Irish Independence, Democracy and Neutrality were one and the same. In 1914 he helped to establish the Irish Neutrality League and in 1916 was a member of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic.
Ireland had become an integral part of the British Union in 1800 when the then Irish political elite having helped crush the United Irishmen in 1798, voted, in return for money, to terminate the Irish Parliament.
For well over 100 years Irelad had a Common Foreign and Defence policy within the British Union. Over 30% of the Army of the British Union were Irish and not a year went by, but they took part in humanitarian wars where the natives were brought the benefits of what was called "British civilization".
By 1914 the Irish political elite led by Redmond and Carson actively supported the British Union and Empire and they encouraged over 180,000 Irishmen to fight to defend the British Union in the 1st World War. In that year only about 5% of the people opposed the war, because the vast majority were carried away on a wave of emotion to volunteer to die to show how British they were.
1916 changed their minds and in 1919 Ireland declared its Independence. The Irish Republican Army under its Commander in Chief, Michael Collins forced the British to withdraw from the 26 counties. In the Treaty negotiations, Collins ensured our right to become Independent and to remain neutral in the event of a war between other states. Collins also made it clear that in accepting the Treaty, it only provided freedom to achieve freedom, a stepping-stone to a United, 32 county, Independent, Democratic Irish Republic with our own Independent Foreign and defence policy.
The Peace and Neutrality Alliance in advocating an Independent Irish Foreign policy and in rejecting a common foreign and defence policy is the natural successor to the values as advocated by James Connolly and Michael Collins and de Valera. We have no desire to prove how 'European' we are just as some used to need to show how 'British' they were.
After Indpendence, far from being isolationist, Irish Governments sent representatives to the Peace conference after the 1st World War and took an active part in the League of Nations. They took advantage of the Treaty as negotiated by Collins and remained neutral in the 2nd World War, a policy supported by the overwhelming majority of the people in our state, including Fine Gael.
It joined the United Nations and our Army has taken part in peacekeeping directly under the auspices of the United Nations since the 1960's.
Thus PANA's commitment to Irish Independence, Democracy, Neutrality and support for the United Nations as the institution through which we should pursue our security concerns are values deeply rooted in our history. They have the support of a substantial number of Irish people.
How else can it be explained, when despite the support of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the PD's, the labour Party, IBEC, the ICTU, the Bishops, etc, 38% of the people voted against the Amsterdam Treaty, 54% voted against the 1st Nice Treaty, and 38% voted against it against the 2nd time. This, despite the Declaration on Neutrality, which PANA said at the time, and we now know, to be meaningless, massive amounts of money being spent by IBEC, a commitment not to take part in EU military ventures without a UN mandate, and a constitutional amendment to ensure Ireland would not join an EU Common Defence without a referendum.
The next EU referendum will be advocated by a government led by Ahern, who lied to the people before the last election, and who has already totally destroyed the policy of Irish Neutrality by supporting the illegal conquest of Iraq by the American Empire through allowing Shannon to be turned into a US airforce base.
Ahern's vision of the Future of Europe is as a collection of vassal states of the American Empire.
By the time of the next referendum, the economic recession will have deepened, the American Empire will have occupied Iraq for over a year and it will still be supporting the expansionist, nuclear armed, imperial state in the Middle East, Israel. By that stage the struggle against the Empire and its allies in the Coalition of the Willing, such as Ireland, will have developed to a much higher level. PANA has won one and lost two referendums; next time we could even the score.
On February 15th, PANA, the NGO Peace Alliance and the Irish Anti War Movement organized the largest anti-war demonstrations in the history of the state. There is no doubt that at the time the vast majority of the people opposed the war, and there is no doubt that since then, frightened by Ahern that the US would withdraw its investments, many have changed their mind.
But fear is not a lasting basis on which to develop Irish government policy, and we will regain that support. Because fear turns to hate, and throughout the world, especially among the poor, and particularly the Muslims, fear is turning to hate. The Irish people do and will not fear and hate the American people; they do however have contempt for the Emperor Bush as reflected by the fact that Michael Moore's book, 'Stupid White Men' has topped the bestselling book list for months.
The American Empire, anymore than previous Empires, cannot last.
- It constitutes only 3% of the world's population
- It's budget surplus of $trillions is now a budget deficit of $trillions
- 43 Million Americans are functionally illiterate
- 1% of the population owns 30% of the wealth
- 39 million Americans have no health care
- Its CEO's earn 200 times more than the pay of an average industrial worker
- Its Supreme Court appointed President has just ensured $726 million in tax cuts to the rich.
Such an Empire has millions of its own American citizens opposed to it and as Bush's Imperial wars drag on, internal opposition will grow.
For despite that fact that it spends a great deal of money on defence, it is overstretched. While the British maintained its Empire in India with only 50,000 soldiers, the US needed 150,000 to conquer Iraq.
It needs its vassal states to provide extra troops.
Now Mr. Smith, our Minister for Defence is advocating we send Irish soldiers to help with the occupation of Iraq to fight alongside troops from Poland and the other Coalition of the Willing states of Eastern Europe. He should remember Vietnam. He should remember that Muslims constitute 20% of the world's population, far more than the Vietnamese.
By actively supporting the US Empires conquest of Iraq in order to ensure US/Israeli control of the oil and water resources of the region, Ahern has not only destroyed our policy of neutrality, but he has backed a loser, he has tied the future of Ireland to a doomed Imperial Empire.
The EEC was established in order to ensure that Germany and France did not go to war again. Between 1870 and 1945 they fought 3 horrific wars. By steadily integrating their economies their political leaders sought to make sure there would be no more such wars.
Over the decades it has steadily expanded and more and more states joined in was seen by the vast majority of the different peoples of Europe as a progressive and inclusive mechanism of co-operation of democratic states. PANA always welcomed the steady expansion of the European Union provided it was democratic process.
We look forward to Turkey, the Ukraine and Russia in due course also joining. It should be open to any European state, which is a signatory of, and respects fully, the European Convention on Human Rights.
PANA believes in a Democratic Europe. A Europe of Independent, Democratic States, Legal Equals, organized on an interparliamentary basis by means of a Treaty on European Co-operation. The EU could be called the ED, a Europe of Democracies.
Laws should be valid if they are passed by National Parliaments
If some states wish to have a common defence and foreign policy, that their decision. PANA, however. seeks a legally binding Protocol to exclude Ireland, similar to that achieved by the Danes, from the militarisation of Europe.
PANA advocates that the the United Nations, the only inclusive global institution charged with collective security, should be the institution through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns, not a militarized EU.
The response to the US conquest of Iraq showed clearly that the EU currently does not have a Common Foreign and Defence policy. If however, one includes the applicant states, such as Poland, the majority of the states of the emerging EU support that illegal conquest. So if a CFSP were to emerge, then the "new Europe", would support the American Empires effective destruction of the United Nations. The rich white Christians of Europe and the rich white Christians of the US would stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and with their Imperial might crush the poor Arab Muslims into the ground so they can control the oil.
If a Commom Security and Defence policy did emerge it would also require Ireland to spend a great deal of money on purchasing military equiptment. This means that there will have to be a substantial increase in taxation and cuts in health, education and social welfare. This is a reality.
PANA seeks to reflect the views of those Irish people who do not support the restoration of the Imperial Redmondite tradition as advocated by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the PD's. In doing so we are not alone. Millions upon millions of people throughout Europe, America and the rest of the world as seen in worldwide demonstration on the 15th February, do not support the New Imperialism. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
For the choice is not between Brussels and Boston. The choice is between Dublin and Dallas.
Do the Irish people want an Independent Democratic Irish Republic with a Foreign Minster, responsible directly to the Irish people, implementing an Independent Irish Foreign policy through a reformed and renewed United Nations? or do they want a common EU foreign policy of a collection of vassal states of the American Empire? That's the choice.
For let us be clear. What Bush's Empire is offering us is war and more war. War so the rich Americans and rich Europeans can stay rich. War so the rich in the US and Europe can drive their petrol guzzling SUV's.
Let us be also clear that the rich will be defeated, there are just to many poor people throughout the world.
PANA is part of a global peace movement offers the alternative of peace, of negotiation, of dialogue. A world where global and inclusive institutions such as transformed United Nations, where the Security Council is elected in a regional basis, is the institution with the legal authority for collective security.
A United Nations that it the only institution with a Rapid Reaction Force.
A United Nations that is independently funded through a Tobin Tax.
PANA is part of global movement that seeks security through a more equitable distribution of wealth; where money is spend on health and education rather than military equipment. It is they only option where we all win.
In South Africa, the rich white Christians finally realized that dialogue and negotiation rather than war was better for them as well as the poor.
It was a peace process that we in Ireland learnt from, and while ours is still ongoing; we are much better off than when the Irish war process was in full swing. We in Ireland know the dangers of religious war more than most, and while the Clash of civilizations, of war between Christians and Muslims as advocated by Bush and his neoconservative supporters has strong supporter in Ireland among Irish Christian fundamentalists, we should seek to ensure that the Irish peace process is a success not only in Ireland, but it's principles of inclusive dialogue and negotiation as a mechanism of conflict resolution, like that in South Africa, becomes the acceptable form of international conflict resolution.
Call PANA wishy-washy namby pamby if you like. But PANA do not believe war is the best way of resolving problems. War should be the last option, and only within the context of International Law. Destroying Irish Independence, democracy and neutrality so that we can become and insignificant member of a collection of vassal states to the American empire, or even a EU Empire, does not inspire PANA much, especially since it means permanent war. Maybe the FF/FG axis that supports such a future will continue to dominate Irish politics, but not with PANA's help.
The last MRBI poll showed that the political parties and independents that supported neutrality had the support of nearly 40% of the people. PANA will seek to ensure that support increases to a level so that they will form or dominate the Government after the next election which is likely to be held in 2006, the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, and 30 years after my first vote.
PANA will give a hell of a good party if we succeed, and your all invited.
Roger Cole (Chair)
Peace & Neutrality Alliance.