I read with interest the Red C Poll to which the Deputy refers, which indicates that 78% of the public supports Ireland’s policy of neutrality, a policy to which this Government is fully committed and which will remain a lynchpin of our foreign policy for the foreseeable future. This policy, which is characterised by non-participation in military alliances, is underpinned by a set of complementary values which informs our work on human rights and development, and our efforts to promote disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.It is these same values which have motivated Ireland’s longstanding record of participation in international crisis management.
As a member of the United Nations, we consider that primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the UN Security Council. This is reflected within the triple-lock mechanism, which provides that the Defence Forces may only participate in peacekeeping operations which have been authorised by the UN. The triple lock enjoys overwhelming public support, as demonstrated in the Red C Poll, and offers the fullest legitimacy to the contribution which Ireland makes to international peacekeeping. We are furthermore committed to our obligation as members of the UN to provide assistance in any action which the Security Council takes in accordance with the UN Charter. It is in this context that Ireland has responded positively to the recent request to provide personnel for the UN Disengagement Observation Force in the Golan Heights. This mission has made a considerable contribution to stability in the Middle East since its establishment in 1974. As the confrontation between Government and opposition forces in Syria continues, ensuring that UNDOF can continue to operate effectively remains a priority for the United Nations in order to ensure that regional stability is not further threatened by this conflict.
I have repeatedly made clear Ireland’s opposition to the arming of the parties to the Syrian conflict, which can only further fuel this war. Ireland remains fully supportive of a negotiated peaceful solution, and urges the parties to the conflict to renew the Geneva II process with a view to ending the current conflict and alleviating the appalling suffering endured by the Syrian people.