Thirty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill 2018: First Stage


Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

I am very happy to introduce this Bill with my colleague, Teachta Ó Snodaigh. The Bill is similar to one I introduced in the Thirty-first Dáil and another one we introduced in this Dáil in 2016.

The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution to ensure Ireland will not and could not aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for a war, save with the assent of the Dáil. It also affirms that Ireland is a neutral State and that the State should have a policy of non-membership of military alliances. The continued use of Shannon Airport for foreign militaries to facilitate their ongoing wars, coupled with the increased militarisation of the EU and this State's deeper integration in the EU's military system through permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, ensures this Bill is timely.

I will ask the Government and all parties and groups to support the Bill when it appears for debate and to stop undermining Irish neutrality. Sinn Féín believes that if Ireland followed a policy of positive neutrality, our State could make a highly significant contribution to the long-held global objective of peace and justice and the achievement of the goal of universal human security to which everyone has a right.

Mar a dúirt an Teachta Crowe, chuir mé an Bille céanna seo faoi bhráid na Dála roinnt uaireanta roimhe seo cheana féin ach go dtí seo níor glacadh leis in ainneoin tacaíocht tromlach muintir na hÉireann chun neodracht na tíre a shoiléiriú i mBunreacht an Stáit. Ní thuigim an eagla atá ag na páirtithe polaitiúla eile roimh an méid atá sa Bhille seo.

As far back as 1791, Wolfe Tone, in his first pamphlet, Spanish War, argued that Irish neutrality and non-involvement in Britain's war should be the position of republicans. Some 120 years later in 1914, as the First World War or Great War, as some call it, was beginning, the Irish Neutrality League issued its first circular, which was signed by its president, James Connolly. Some 100 years after more than 40,000 or 50,000 Irishmen died in that imperialist war, the proud tradition of not aligning ourselves with belligerents and imperialists' resource wars is not enshrined in the Constitution. In fact, the opposite is the case, especially since 1997 when Fianna Fáil signed up to the NATO's Partnership for Peace.

This weekend I will open an international conference in this city. It is the first international conference against US and NATO military bases and it will be held in Liberty Hall on Friday. Guests from all around the world hold Ireland in such high regard that Ireland was selected for this conference, but that will not last if this Government, like recent others, continues to allow Shannon Airport to continue to be used as a US Army forward base, as it has been since 2002, or if it continues to go along with the likes of French President Emmanuel Macron or those in the European Commission, such as Jean-Claude Juncker, whose intention is to build a real European army through PESCO and so on and to have it in place by the middle of the next decade.

When the Bill appears on Second Stage, I hope the Dáil will reconsider how it has voted in the past. Although the numbers voting for Private Members' Bills have increased, I urge both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to consider their approach, not least in memory of the imperialist war and the effect it had on Ireland. Ireland has such a proud tradition internationally of not being aligned to one side or another in wars and, therefore, I urge Deputies to endorse the Bill in order that we can ask the people their opinion. Why is the Government continuously afraid of asking the people for their opinion on this issue? The only poll that was done on this issue in recent times showed an overwhelming majority of Irish people are in favour of the intent of this legislation and, therefore, I urge the Dáil to endorse the Bill when it comes before it again and allow the people to have their say. Perhaps we will, once and for all, enshrine neutrality in the Constitution.

Is the Bill being opposed?

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.