Statement from Anthony Coughlan, on the Triple Lock and Seville Declaration

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Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s decision to seek to abandon the Triple Lock on sending Irish soldiers to fight in foreign parts is motivated by the desire to send Irish soldiers to take part in EU-led and NATO-led military operations that do not have a UN mandate.

Past examples of such would be the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Syrian War. A current example would be the war in Ukraine.

This step would be effectively a repudiation of the Seville Declaration which induced Irish voters to vote Yes to the ratification of the EU’s Nice Treaty by referendum in 2002, having rejected that treaty by referendum the year before.

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.

At the Seville European Council in June 2002 the other EU governments accepted Ireland’s National Declaration spelling out the Triple Lock as follows: “Ireland reiterates that the participation of contingents of the Irish Defence Forces in overseas operations, including those carried out under the European security and defence policy, requires (a) the authorisation of the operation by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations, (b) the agreement of the Irish Government and (c) the approval of Dáil Éireann in accordance with Irish law.”

In return, the European Council of Member State Governments made the following Declaration: “The European Council takes cognizance of the National Declaration of Ireland presented at its meeting in Seville on 21–22 June 2002. It notes that Ireland intends to associate its National Declaration with its act of ratification of the Treaty of Nice, should the people of Ireland in a referendum decide to accept the Treaty of Nice.”

The people did then vote to accept Nice.

Negating the Seville Declaration in the way now proposed would be an insult to the Irish people who voted in those referendums. It would be a betrayal of the commitments of previous Irish Governments regarding the Nice Treaty.

It would enable Irish participation in military operations by the European Union and its American/NATO overlord in the new Cold War between “the West” and Russia/China that increasingly threatens world peace. Ireland’s recent commitment to participate in a 2000 strong German-led EU battlegroup is preparation for all this. Without the Triple Lock the Government could send Irish troops without limit to take part in the Ukrainian war.

To prevent this utterly foolish step and save what is left of a meaningful Irish neutrality policy, citizens should lobby their TDs and Senators in the days and weeks ahead to stand by the Triple Lock peace safeguard adopted when they voted to ratify the Nice Treaty.

Thoughtful and patriotic voters should refuse to vote for Fianna Fail, Fine Gael or the Green Party in the next general election if they should push through this dangerous and shameful proposal – a repudiation of past promises and commitments by these parties to Irish voters.

It is widely thought that Mr Martin’s zeal to abandon the Triple Lock stems from his desire to be selected as an EU Commissioner next year. Although the EU Treaties provide that each EU Member State may nominate its own Commissioner, the practice has grown up of Member States submitting two names, one a woman, to encourage gender balance on the Commission. Does Mr Martin feel that he has to be especially passionate in his Europhilia to ensure that he is the one chosen out of the putative two?

Elements in Fine Gael have wanted to end the Triple Lock for years. Tánaiste Martin now proposes to oblige them. Has the leader of the once great Fianna Fail party of Eamon de Valera, who in his day gave Ireland a genuinely independent neutrality policy, really sunk to this?

Deeply cynical is the editorial endorsement by the “Irish Times” of the abandonment of the Triple Lock as a “vindication of Irish sovereignty” (23 November). Everyone knows that that paper has welcomed every surrender of the powers of the Irish State to the supranational EU over decades, every abandonment of the accompanying national vetoes, and that this proposal is but another step in enabling Ireland to subsume its defence forces in EU/NATO military operations.

Others are making similar demagogic claims regarding their zeal for Irish sovereignty in order to fool people as to what this is really all about.

In the 2001 Nice Treaty referendum the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, of which the undersigned is spokesman, was stated to be a body providing information critical of the treaty in the information booklet which the statutory Referendum Commission, then chaired by former Chief Justice T. A. Finlay, sent to all Irish households. The European Movement (Ireland), whose then secretary was Mr Alan Dukes, was stated in the same booklet to be a body providing information in support of the Treaty.

Anthony Coughlan
Spokesman, The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre,
Crawford Avenue,
Dublin 9

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