Letters from Peace Activists 2024

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The following letters from peace activists were published between March and May 2024.

Why we should ensure our Neutrality is strengthened instead of just Abandoned

This letter by Edward Horgan was published in the Irish Independent on Saturday 23rd March 2024

Dear Editor,

Our Irish Government seems determined to bring Ireland ever closer to participating in unjustified wars and ending Irish neutrality by removing the Triple Lock which specifies that UN approval is necessary to send more than twelve Irish soldiers on overseas missions. Such a decision goes against the wishes of the vast majority of the Irish people who value active Irish neutrality.

226 Irish soldiers served in Afghanistan in NATO-led missions between 2001 and 2016. These soldiers included several members of the Army Ranger Wing, but it is not clear in what specific roles they served in. The Afghan war has been a disaster for the people of Afghanistan.

In 2022 the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, can proceed with a formal investigation into atrocities allegedly committed during the armed conflict in Afghanistan. by U.S. armed forces and CIA personnel.

In 2020, the Australian Defence Force released findings from a four-year inquiry which found credible evidence that Australian special forces soldiers unlawfully killed 39 people during the Afghan war.In December 2022 the British government announced an inquiry into allegations that SAS soldiers murdered scores of unarmed people during night raids in Afghanistan. This follows BBC Panorama revelations, in July 2022, that one SAS unit killed 54 people in suspicious circumstances.

Conor Gallagher’s book, (Is Ireland Neutral?) reveals that an Irish soldier serving in Afghanistan helped “to track down and kill Taliban bombers. This included assisting US forces in directing airstrikes against targets responsible for IED attacks.” Irish soldiers should not be involved in such missions.

With our history of centuries of colonial abuse, including starvation, we must strengthen our neutrality, not abandon it.

Edward Horgan,

The Triple Lock

Copy of e-mail by Anthony Coughlan sent to all TDs and Senators on the Triple Lock. 1 May 2024.

Dear Deputy, dear Senator,

May I appeal to you on behalf of my colleagues and myself to use your influence to counter Tanaiste Micheál Martin’s unwise and untimely proposal to abolish the Triple Lock which prevents Irish troops being sent on military missions abroad without a United Nations mandate.

Abolishing the Triple Lock would enable Ireland to participate without limit in the current Ukrainian war, as in the past it would have allowed us to take part in the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, the Libyan war and other NATO/EU operations that did not have a UN mandate. It would mark a virtual end to any meaningful neutrality policy for Ireland.

Taking such a step would be a significant symbolic blow to the authority of the United Nations, which Ireland has always supported, at a time when that authority is being challenged as never before over the war in Gaza.

More importantly, it would be a breach of the solemn "National Declarations" that were made on behalf of Ireland by the Bertie Ahern Government in 2002 and the Brian Cowen Government in 2009 in order to get the Nice and Lisbon Treaty referendums through a second time round after Irish voters had rejected those Treaties previously, largely out of concern at their possible effects on Irish neutrality.

These “National Declarations” by Ireland  – issued with a capital “N” and capital “D” at the time! – were formally recognised and responded to by the European Council of EU Prime Ministers and Presidents in 2002 and 2009 respectively, and were formally associated with the legal instruments of ratification of the Nice and Lisbon Treaties when these were deposited in Rome.  Repudiating them now may arguably be a breach of international law under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

It was because of these National Declarations to maintain the Triple Lock – in principle indefinitely – that large numbers of Irish voters changed their votes between the Nice One and Nice Two referendums in 2001 and 2002, and the Lisbon One and Lisbon Two referendums in 2008 and 2009 – thereby enabling these EU treaties to be ratified and come into force. The Lisbon Treaty, as you know, implemented the EU’s Constitution.

The commitments of the Ahern and Cowen Governments to maintain the Triple Lock at the time of the Nice and Lisbon Treaty referendums were supported by all parties in the Dáil and Seanad. Abandoning them now would assuredly induce deep public cynicism about Irish politicians and their promises and be a profoundly unhealthy development in our public life –  not least when the agreed “Programme for Government” of the current administration  contained an explicit commitment to maintain the Triple Lock.

As you doubtless are aware, Article 27 of the Constitution  provides for the President to refer any Oireachtas Bill to the people for a referendum if  one-third of the members of the Dáil and one-half of the Senate sign a petition to the President  requesting that on the ground that "the Bill contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained."

We have never had such a referendum before, but overriding the solemn commitments given to the people by two Irish Governments on behalf of the State in the Nice and Lisbon Treaty referendums would seem clearly to amount to "a proposal of such national importance".

Securing one-third of the Dáil and one-half of the Senate to support such a petition to the President should realistically be possible if concerned TDs and Senators went about it in a committed fashion. May we urge you therefore to consult with your Oireachtas colleagues with a view to organising or supporting such an Article 27 petition to the President if the Government should introduce and put through the Oireachtas a Bill to abolish the Triple Lock.

Standing by those Nice and Lisbon referendum commitments is surely something that all TDs and Senators of integrity should support.

To assist you in considering this matter I shall put in the post for you in the next few days photocopies of the “National Declaration” by Ireland and the responding Declaration by the European Council of EU Prime Ministers and Presidents – the so-called Seville Declarations of 2002, which were repeated for the Lisbon Two referendum in 2009. These are taken from the Government’s Information Guide on the 2002 Treaty of Nice. The Government’s Declaration at the time of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty is copied from the statutory Referendum Commission’s Extended Guide, introduced by its chairman Mr Justice Frank Clarke, which was issued to Irish voters at that time. I shall also send you a copy of a useful editorial on this matter which the Sunday Times carried last December when abolishing the Triple Lock was first mooted, setting out reasons why this should not be done.

Hoping that you may find these points, together with the enclosures I am putting in the post for you, of use as you consider this important matter with your Oireachtas colleagues…

Yours sincerely

Anthony Coughlan
(Associate Professor Emeritus in Social Policy, TCD)

Triple Lock protects Irish Neutrality

This letter by Roger Cole /PANA was published in the Irish Daily Mail on Friday 3rd May, and again in the Irish Times on Saturday 4th May 2024. Both were slightly edited. 2 May 2024.

Letter to the Editor,

The Triple Lock mechanism sets out the conditions under which more than 12 Irish troops may participate in overseas peace support operations.

For troops to take part, the operation must be mandated by the United Nations, and it must be approved by the Government and by Dáil Éireann.

Spelling out the Triple Lock in the 2002 Seville Declaration was the key factor used to persuade the Irish people to change their vote on the Nice Treaty referendum.

On his arrival at the recent Brussels summit of EU leaders last week, Taoiseach Simon Harris stated that the Irish government had plans to abandon the Triple Lock and to support further moves towards EU militarisation.The decision of the FF/FG/GP government to destroy the Triple Lock means that they can send the Irish Defence Forces to take part in a war without United Nations approval.

Last year Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin decided to withdraw Irish troops from the UN peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights in order as he suggests to have the capacity to fulfil his commitment to EU Battlegroups 2024/2025.

This Government now appears committed to totally destroying Irish neutrality and the core role of the United Nations. All three government parties supported the Triple Lock in their election manifesto at the last election. Perhaps they now fear allowing people express their opinions on these issues through a referendum. But in the upcoming June elections the electorate may express their anger that a key pre-election promise that protected our neutrality in Irish foreign policy was abandoned.

Yours Sincerely

Roger Cole,
Peace & Neutrality Alliance,
Dalkey Business Centre, 17 Castle Street,
Dalkey, Co. Dublin

End US military use of Shannon Airport

This letter was published in the weekly paper ‘The Kerryman’ on Wednesday 15 May.


The Genocide Convention 1948 states in Article III (e) that: The following acts shall be punishable: (e) Complicity in genocide. Article IV states that: Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

While the case taken by South Africa against Israel under the Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice will likely take several years to reach a final judgement, it should be clear to all reasonable observers that serious war crimes, amounting to genocide, are being committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.

The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and several of the most powerful European Union governments have been actively supporting the Israeli attacks on Gaza by supplying huge amounts of weapons and munitions, as well as offering political support, and are therefore actively complicit in war crimes and genocide.By allowing the US military to use Shannon Airport since October 7, 2023, the Irish Government are at least indirectly complicit in these war crimes and acts of genocide.

Since at least 35,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed so far in Gaza, Irish complicity in this slaughter must be ended immediately by ending US military use of Shannon airport.

By allowing US military use of Shannon, the Irish government has been acting on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of international and humanitarian laws,


Edward Horgan,

EU’s Military Power

This letter by Elizabeth Cullen was published in the Irish Examiner on Thursday 16th May.

Dear Sir,

For the past 20 years, the EU has been moving to be a military power. The recent report by the Transnational Institute details how this has happened, namely out of public view, driven by the EU's own interests, and with very little oversight.

The only democratically elected institution in the EU, the European parliament has very limited decision making power in relation to foreign policy. The so-called European Peace Facility, which funds EU military missions, is beyond any democratic scrutiny.

In a world which more than ever needs peace, Ireland must stand up to the military-industrial complex, keep the triple lock and take seriously its constitutional obligation to be peacemakers.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Cullen
Co Kildare

Allowing US military use of Shannon Airport makes Ireland complicit in war

This letter published in at least 2 papers today (Wednesday 22nd May), and it was published in full by both the Irish Independent and the Irish Daily Mail. It coincides with the announcements of recognition by Ireland and others of the Palestinian state. This recognition of Palestine as a state is a very important development also.

Dear Editor

The Irish government is responding to the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate by moving, albeit belatedly, to recognise Palestine as a state.

This decision is to be welcomed. The decision by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders should also be welcomed by all who value the rules of international and humanitarian laws. Complicity with war crimes and genocide is also a crime that comes within the remit of the ICC and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The US and several Nato and EU member states have been actively supportive of Israeli war crimes and probable genocide in Gaza, by supplying large amounts of the weapons and munitions that Israel has been using to commit those crimes.

By allowing US military aircraft to use Shannon Airport and Irish airspace, Ireland and its leaders and officials are at least indirectly ­complicit in war crimes and ­probable genocide.

Edward Horgan,


I had this letter published in the Irish Daily Mail on Monday 27th.

Over the past weekend, at least 200 Palestinians, mainly women and children, were murdered by Israeli bombing in Gaza, in several separate locations in Gaza. Edward
Con­demn war crimes

Dear Editor,

The Jew­ish people suffered dis­crim­in­a­tion and pogroms for cen­tur­ies lead­ing up to the Holo­caust, which was the most ser­i­ous gen­o­cide in the his­tory of human­ity.

The vic­tims of gen­o­cide include not only those who are killed dur­ing the gen­o­cide but also the sur­viv­ors, and the future gen­er­a­tions who should have been born to those who were murdered.

I and mil­lions of oth­ers have cam­paigned to com­mem­or­ate the Holo­caust, and we should con­tinue to do so, in spite of, and because of, what is now hap­pen­ing to the Palestinian people.

The dam­age caused by gen­o­cide and war crimes afflicts not only the vic­tims, but also the per­pet­rat­ors. Moral injury and PTSD are mod­ern terms, but his­tor­ical real­ity. The Israeli gov­ern­ment, sup­por­ted by the US and oth­ers, has been com­mit­ting war crimes amount­ing to gen­o­cide, and many Jew­ish people in Israel and world­wide opposed to these crimes are also indir­ectly vic­tims.

All racism includ­ing anti­-Semit­ism is unjus­ti­fied, but pre­ju­dice against Jew­ish people will likely rise because of what is hap­pen­ing in Gaza. It is not the stu­dents and oth­ers who are jus­ti­fi­ably protest­ing against the actions of the Israeli gov­ern­ment who are caus­ing anti-Semit­ism. By our silence or inac­tion, we would be com­pli­cit. All war crimes and acts of ter­ror­ism whether com­mit­ted by states or non-state groups such as Hamas must be con­demned and pre­ven­ted.

The proper and just applic­a­tion of inter­na­tional and human­it­arian laws must be applied to end such wars and war crimes.
DR EDWARD HORGAN, Cas­tle­t­roy, Lim­er­ick.

Letter Sent to Newspapers on 29/5/2024 and still awaiting to be published…

Dear Editor,

The Government's plan to dismantle the Triple Lock, removing the requirement for UN authority when our troops are deployed overseas, breaks solemn Declarations given in order to override the people’s rejection of the Nice and Lisbon Treaties.  Either those declarations still hold, or they were deceptive from the start; either way, we should be wary of the current proposal.

The chairperson of Tánaiste Martin’s forum, Dame Louise Richardson, reported (a) that the UN needed to be reformed, and (b) that there was no consensus on the Triple Lock but that there was a “preponderance of views” against it.  Even she had to note that this “preponderance” was “especially among the experts and practitioners”.  This is hardly surprising given their “preponderance” within the Forum’s carefully selective line-up.

In 1995 the then Government formally invited lifelong UN servant Erskine Childers III to advise on a forthcoming foreign policy White Paper.  He detailed how “a handful of governments” had hijacked and downgraded the UN and urged Ireland to work for reform.  Tragically, successive Irish governments have systematically rejected his profound analysis and advice.

Their focus is rather on copperfastening the stranglehold over the UN of the “handful of governments” dominating the EU/NATO Strategic Partnership, even at the cost of preserving Russia’s and China’s vetoes.  This emerged blatantly on St Patrick’s Day when then-Taoiseach Varadkar defended his failure even to question US arming of Israel with a contemptuous gibe: critics should “spend a bit more time reading foreign policy” – the staple fare of the Forum’s “experts and practitioners".

Yours etc.,
John Maguire
Professor of Sociology Emeritus,
University College Cork

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