The White Paper on Defence, which is expected to be published by the Minister for Defence next year, will provide a framework for Ireland’s defence policy for the period 2014-2024. There have been significant changes in both the domestic and the international security and defence environment since the last White Paper was published in 2000.
The publication of the Green Paper on Defence, and the related consultation process, provides an important opportunity for reflection on how Ireland can address emerging challenges and changes in the international security environment in this period in line with our interests and values. It will also allow for informed public debate in this important policy area. As outlined in the Green Paper, issues relating to security and defence are inseparable from the State’s wider foreign policy, tied to such factors as our traditional policy of military neutrality, our commitment to the UN, and our membership of the EU. My Department has had an opportunity to contribute to the development of this Green Paper, in particular to the significant foreign policy elements of the text, and will continue to do so in the lead-up to the publication of the White Paper next year. I am strongly committed to maintaining the ‘triple lock’ mechanism, which forms the essential foundation for the participation of Irish military personnel in overseas operations. The ‘triple lock’, which enjoys overwhelming public support, has served the State well. It ensures that our Defence Forces take part only in missions which have the consent of the international community, expressed through the authorisation of the United Nations. I do not consider that the Ireland’s contribution to international peacekeeping is constrained in any significant way by this requirement. Furthermore, a UN mandate is vital if a peacekeeping mission is to be effective in achieving its goals.