The Role Of Neutrality On Irish Defence Policy ... Foreign...

The Role Of Neutrality On Irish Defence Policy ... Foreign... content expired - 2018-01-03

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The Role of Neutrality on Irish Defence Policy ... foreign policy in European as well as in national ... such as the Seville Declaration and Ireland’s

Macedonian request for the intervention of UN peacekeepers in Macedonia in 1999 was vetoed by China in the Security Council because of Macedonia’s position with regard to Taiwan.xl As a result Ireland was legally prevented from contributing to the mission in spite of the fact that a senior Irish officer had been selected to command the force. As a result, it seems reasonable to question why another state (and indirectly the triple lock) should be allowed dictate Irish foreign policy and the country’s participation in a valid mission in line with UN principles but denied a UN mandate. It is also interesting to note that in the same year Ireland detoured from its traditional policy of neutrality and backed an EU-NATO members’ statement endorsing NATO military action in Kosovo in 1999. While the triple lock was not compromised as Ireland did not commit any forces to NATO it was the first time Ireland supported military action without a UN mandate and is significant for that reason. The government’s position on Kosovo highlights the fact that Ireland is now considering foreign policy from a European perspective as well as a national and UN one, a move some suggest could endanger the triple lock.
Essential to the argument to remove the triple lock is the fact that the lock takes time to open which detracts from the purpose of the battlegroups to remain flexible, ready to intervene in crises and resolve them as quickly as possible. Tied in with the issue of the veto rights of the permanent members of the Security Council is the fact that the UN can often be slow in coming to a decision to issue a resolution and with the ten day proviso for battlegroup
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deployments it is unlikely that such a resolution will be passed in time. This will complicate matters for other members of the battlegroups that Ireland is involved in, as a unanimous decision is needed before the group can be deployed. It is important that battlegroups have as few limitations as possible in order to be effective and members of the battlegroups should try to harmonise their national legislation as closely as possible to facilitate the training for and planning of missions. Like Ireland, Finland’s Peacekeeping Act places restrictions on its participation in international missions requiring either a UN or OSCE mandate and will be discussed further below (Kaukoranta, 1998: 328). This legal requirement has caused much political debate in the country with the President conceding in 2005 that it might not always be possible to gain a UN mandate in situations where Finland is willing to act (Kerttunen, Koivula & Jeppsson, 2005: 86). These include the possibility that the two sides involved in a conflict request EU action directly or that if the situation in which Finland wishes to become involved is so complicated that the UN cannot reach agreement thus preventing Finland’s participation. Having concluded its investigations the working group set up in 2004 to investigate possible reforms to the Act delivered its findings in May 2005 stating that ‘the operations in which Finland intends to participate should, under the main rule have the mandate of the UN Security Council. Exceptionally Finland could also participate in other operations’ once a report has been submitted by Government for discussion in parliament and then a final proposal given to the president upon which a decision can be made.xli Therefore, member states need to be mindful of the
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fact that whilst battlegroups cannot have any limitations to action their partners in the group often do, such is the nature of defence policy.
In discussing the restrictions imposed on Irish defence policy one must consider the prohibition on Irish participation in a common defence. In the Seville Declaration of June 2002 the European Union recognised Ireland’s military neutrality as a response to Article 1.2 of the Treaty of Nice which states ‘The Common Foreign and Security Policy shall include all questions relating to the security of the Union, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence, should the European Council so decide’.xlii The term common defence is taken to mean a binding mutual defence commitment but it is also clear that no decision to move towards a common defence could be taken without Irish approval, as the European Council, charged with making such a decision, operates by consensus. As a further commitment to non-participation for Ireland in a common defence the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the Constitution Act, 2002 published 17 months after the first referendum on the Nice Treaty, also acted as a guarantee against Ireland adopting any decision taken by the European Council on establishing a common defence and that Ireland could not participate in such a common defence without amendment to the Constitution by way of a referendum. The amendment proposed in the Act also gave constitutional effect to the National Declaration by Ireland at Seville in order to remove the doubts amongst the Irish people that the Nice Treaty posed a threat to Irish neutrality, believed to be
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under threat during the first referendum on the Treaty. Through the Seville Declaration the government negotiated safeguards for Ireland’s policy of military neutrality by establishing an agreed interpretation of the relevant provisions of the treaties. These declarations confirmed that the development of the EU’s CFSP would not influence Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality that the treaties would not impose on Ireland a binding defence commitment and also that participation in EU efforts and crisis management and humanitarian relief would not constitute the development of a European Army. Furthermore, the declarations confirm that Irish troops will not take part in EU operations without a UN mandate and that Ireland will not become involved in a common defence arrangement without the approval of the Irish people through a referendum on the issue.xliii The EU Constitution, now the Reform Treaty maintains these declarations. What these declarations along with the Twenty- Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Act will not prevent however is the situation in which the Oireachtas adopts a decision by the European Council to establish a common defence, which does not include Ireland. In such a situation Ireland would not block the defensive ambitions of other member states wishing to establish a common defence, as long as it does not interfere with Ireland’s national interests. For Roisin Doherty flexible cooperation is an important option for the neutral states, for whom participation in CFSP means they can take part in closer security cooperation yet can also opt-out if they consider their national interest to be at stake. The danger however to be mindful of is the creation of a ‘multi-speed’ Europe where the smaller neutral states are left behind by their
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larger more active partners (Doherty, 2002: 156). In many ways such a situation as an Irish opt out of defence could be similar to the introduction of the Euro, which was approved by all 15 member states although 3 states did not replace their national currencies with the Euro. While the Seville Declarations do much to dispel the idea that the Nice Treaty represented a threat to Irish neutrality it is essential that Ireland does participate in CFSP. There are fears amongst some analysts that Ireland would be ‘left out in the cold’ if the EU moves towards a common defence and could lose significant influence over time (Keatinge and Tonra, 2002).
The Future of Defence: an Increased Irish Ambition
In order to remain at the forefront of multinational arrangements for international security one must remember that Ireland is in fact an active participant in the ESDP process, not a mere spectator, and must take responsibility for how it is developed with other member states. Consequently, ESDP and Ireland’s involvement in the battlegroups will pose new defence challenges for the Government, the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The re-organisation of the Defence Forces structure is already underway and changes have produced positive results. If the increased demand for troops for international missions as well as demands at home for troops patrols at the Northern Irish border continue Ireland will have to consider some changes. With the changing international environment states across Europe have been forced to reassess the make-up of their defence forces as well as the resources
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needed in the future. Changes within the Irish Defence Forces have been long overdue and reforms have been far reaching. Following on from the Defence Forces Review Implementation Plan the Defence Forces have changed from a four command structure to a three brigade structure with larger unit sizes in order to augment operational capabilities.xliv The Implementation Plan also recommended reducing troop numbers to 11,500 while also lowering age profiles.xlv Infantry battalions were also reduced from eleven to nine and the top level structure of the Defence Forces has been altered and brought more in line with modern times.
Improvements have also been made in the area of investment in equipment and facilities. Taking defence expenditure figures for 2005, which came to €731,971 million there was in fact a 5.04% increase in expenditure from 2004 (See table 2).xlvi While a significant proportion of this figure is made up of pay and pensions there has been significant investment in military hardware. The biggest defence contract in the history of the Irish State involved the purchase of 25 additional armoured personnel carriers (APC’s) from Mowag of Switzerland at a cost of €84 million.xlvii These APC’s bring the total to 65 and are essential for duties at home and on peacekeeping duties overseas, having been used by Irish troops in Liberia and Kosovo. In addition improvements were made to Defence Forces anti-armour capability as the Javelin medium range anti-tank guided weapon system replaced the Milan System in 2005 at a cost of €13 million. Whilst these defence expenditures are modest in comparison to other European states from
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the Irish perspective they highlight the commitment within the Department of Defence to modernise its army resources and equipment for more effective use at home and abroad. This is all the more significant given the fact that Ireland finds itself in a ‘very benign external security environment’ as stated in the Irish Government 2000 White Paper on Defence and faces little prospect of external military attack on the island.xlviii
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Table 4.2 Defence Expenditure 2005 and 2004
2005 Provision €
2005 Outturn €
2004 Provision €
2004 Outturn €
DOD Administration
Defence Forces & Pay Allowances
Defence Forces Non-Payment Expenditure
Other Services
Total Defence Expenditure
Source: Adapted from Defence Forces Annual Report 2005
The future of Ireland’s security architecture will continue to centre on UN international peacekeeping. At the start of the decade Ireland was the third highest contributor to peacekeeping duties with missions highlighting the significance of peace support missions to Irish defence but also indicating the increasing scope of missions that Ireland will become involved in.xlix Challenges with regard to NATO led missions in terms of interoperability and sustainability have been overcome by Irish Defence Forces through their participation in both
SFOR in Bosnia and KFOR in Kosovo. In addition involvement in the UN enforcement operation in Somalia represented a new departure for Ireland both militarily and politically being the first time Irish forces participated in a Chapter VII enforcement operation. As the UN has changed the types of missions it has become involved in and how they are organised so too has Ireland been forced to adapt to these changing circumstances. Tied to this is the issue of defence expenditure and as discussed earlier the difficulties that may follow on from increased investment in procurement whilst not increasing the defence budget. Such a move will force the Irish Government to make changes as to what types of missions it can become involved in. Daniel Keohane has argued that two options lie before the Irish Government: to either concentrate on lower end ‘Petersberg Tasks’ through the UN or alternatively to specialise in a key participating role in high intensity peace enforcement forces with bigger countries like Britain, France and Germany. Obviously such action would require increased spending and better planning and training whilst also bringing increased benefits for Ireland’s defence forces. Essentially a decision between the two could come down to spending and Ireland’s defence budget and not solely the political considerations that would influence such a decision. Force overstretch is an important consideration here also as Ireland and its preparations for involvement in the battlegroups should not risk reaching its operational limit too quickly by becoming involved in high-intensity operations should troops be suddenly needed elsewhere or even at home. Whilst traditionally Ireland has provided standard troop deployments for UN missions
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as well as logistically in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks Ireland is contributing to intelligence also. Irish army personnel have secured intelligence roles in Liberia, Lebanon, Israel and Sudan as well as Bosnia-Herzegovenia, Kosovo and ISAF headquarters in Kabul (Keohane, 2001: 25).
The central question throughout this article has been to what extent Ireland has redefined its defence policy by participating in ESDP and more specifically in the battlegroup concept. This in turn has generated several other questions such as will Ireland now bypass the ‘triple lock’? Can Ireland meet the challenges of today’s world? Will this lead to a radical change in Irish defence policy? It has also highlighted the fact that using Europeanisation as a conceptual framework one can assess the impact of the EU and more specifically ESDP on a small non-military neutral state, that one might expect to be outside such influence. Since the 1990’s Ireland has been more disposed towards considering its foreign and security policy in the broader European context and not just through the national lens. This shift in policy coupled with Ireland’s commitment to UN peacekeeping has seen Ireland commit to participation in the battlegroup concept. Whilst Ireland is now facing up to its responsibilities towards ESDP that is not to say it is without its challenges. The decision to take part in the battlegroup concept has put pressure on the national decision making process where sensitivities towards militarising the EU are high and where serious changes in defence require constitutional amendments.
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Ultimately, however if the underlying logic of the battlegroup is to improve military capabilities then it is important for Ireland to bring its defence forces into the modern age. For Ireland participation is feasible, the army will be strengthened and practical problems can be resolved. Having already participated in the Nordic Battlegroup Ireland has learned valuable lessons from involvement with its partner states, which it can bring with it to future participation in other battlegroups. A NATO –like organisation does not appeal to Ireland as territorial defence is not paramount and it does not appear to face any imminent territorial threat. What matters more for Irish security policy is humanitarian and disaster relief, peacekeeping and enforcement missions such as IFOR/SFOR and KFOR which Irish forces have taken part in. Ireland therefore can make a significant contribution to international security through the battlegroups while also benefiting itself from a participation that requires professional well-trained soldiers. Capabilities for crisis management will increase, driven by experience gained through missions and new responsibilities will have to be undertaken with new partners. Participation will have a positive impact on Irish defence forces. A neutrality that was once practical during the Cold War is no longer as vital. In today’s world collective action is required and through its participation in the Battlegroup concept Ireland is helping the EU develop structures to direct its own military operations.
i “I/A” Item Note from the General Secretariat of the Council to the COREPER Council on the subject of the Civilian Headline Goal 2008, Council of the European Union, Brussels, 7 December 2004, 15863/04 ii In referring to Ireland’s commitment to participate in the United Nations Standby Arrangement System Minister for Defence, Michael Smith asserted that in order to maintain international
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peace and security it was important for Ireland to advance such structures as the PfP and the EU Headline Goal in support of the UN. Statement by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Michael Smith T.D., to the select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Womens Rights on the Motion before Dáil Éireann seeking approval for the Minister’s Report to Dáil Éireann regarding service by the Defence Forces with the United Nations in 2001, ... Document
iii Ben Tonra, ‘Denmark and Ireland’, in Ian Manners and Whitmann R. (eds), The Foreign Policies of European Union Members, (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000). Also see Ben Tonra, The Europeanisation of National Foreign Policy: Dutch, Danish and Irish Foreign Policy in the European Union, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001).
iv Michael E. Smith, Europe’s Foreign and Security Policy: the Institutionalization of Cooperation, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004). Michael E. Smith, ‘Conforming to Europe: the Domestic Impact of EU Foreign Policy Cooperation’, Journal of European Public Policy , Vol. 7, No. 4, October,2000, pp. 613-631.
v Christopher Hill (ed.), The Actors in Europe’s Foreign Policy (Routledge, London, 1996).
vi Ian Manners and R. Whitmann, The Foreign Policies of European Union Member, ( Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000)
vii Government of Ireland, White Paper on Defence, February 2000, ... 05065d3/$FILE/whiteppr.pdf (accessed 02 September 2007)
viii The Millennium Development Goals which include cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015 are to be addressed through trade liberalisation and advancements in debt relief and increased aid to improve infrastructure such as education and healthcare. Another focus of the Summit was the establishment of A Peacebuilding Commission in order to aid those countries in transition from armed conflict to more peaceful and stable relations. There was also an agreement to protect civilian populations from crimes against humanity through an extension of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as a proposal to convert the Human Rights Commission into a smaller standing body, a new Human Rights Council.
ix Taoiseach to announce new date for achieving UN Overseas Development Aid target; At UN Summit, (accessed 25 October 2007)
x The Emergency Planning Objective,
xi For more on the Trevi Group see Tony Bunyan, Trevi, Europol and the European state,
xii According to the Dochas Member Survey Consolidated, June 2007, report by Camille Donnat of the 35 members surveyed had a total income of €281.78 million in 2005 and in the same year spent a total of €258.45 million that same year. The core programme focus of members centres on such areas as human rights and democracy, gender and children, food security and hunger as well as agriculture and rural development. Camille Donnat, Dochas Member Survey Consolidated, June 2007, pg. 25.
xiii The Defence (Amendment) Act 2006 states that “3.—(1) A contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force may, with the prior approval of and on the authority of the Government, be dispatched for service outside the State for the purposes of - (f) undertaking humanitarian tasks in response to an actual or potential disaster or emergency.”,
xiv Bunreacht na hEireann, Constitution of Ireland,
xv Speech by Mr. Willie O’Dea TD, Minister for Defence at the Review of 30th Infantry Group Shortly to Leave Ireland for UN Peacekeeping Duty in Kosovo, ... ment (accessed 20 August 2007)
xvi Defence (Amendment) Act 2006, (accessed 25 October 20007)
xvii Speech by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., at the IEA Conference on EU Battlegroups, University of Limerick 28th April 2006, pg 4.
xviii Presentation by the Minister for Defence, Mr Willie O’Dea T.D. to the Joint Committee on European Affairs - “Ireland’s Participation in EU Battlegroups”, 22 March 2006 at 2.45p.m., ...
xix For instance the 100 strong Irish Defence Forces contingent that are on standby since the start of January 2008 are drawn mostly from the Western Brigade in Athlone and are providing a bomb disposal and mine clearance unit to the Nordic battlegroup,
xx Presentation by the Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O’Dea, TD to the Forum on Europe, ‘Ireland and the EU Battlegroups’, ... ent (accessed 18 October 2007).
xxi A framework nation of a battlegroup is the lead nation who will take operational command of the group.
xxii Speech by Minister Willie O’Dea on Ireland’s Future Participation in UN Support Missions, McKee Barracks, February 9 2006, ... ment
xxiii Irish peacekeepers depart for Lebanon, 31 October 2006,
xxiv 2582nd External Relations Council Meeting - Brussels, 17 May 2004 17/5/2004 ( English ) - Press:149 Nr: 9210/04 ...
xxv SALIS emerged from a letter of intent signed by 11 NATO members at a meeting of NATO Minister’s for Defence in June 2003, with the aim of giving NATO strategic airlift capabilities. Now a 15 member consortium led by Germany, and including Sweden and Norway, states involved have pooled resources and chartered six Antonov AN-124-100 allowing for quick transportation of large equipment over long distances. SALIS was developed as a measure to improve European strategic airlift capabilities which are lacking and is see as an interim solution until 2010, the expected delivery date of Europe’s A400M aircraft. See
xxvi The need for increased multinational cooperation to reduce sealift capabilities shortfalls was discussed at the NATO Prague Summit in 2002; the Sealift Coordination Centre (SCC) was established to overcome gaps in the sealift capabilities in the Alliance. The consortium led by Norway also includes Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, which have agreed to pool their resources in order to charter special roll off/roll on ships. It has access to three roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) ships on assured access; one to two Danish Ro/Ro ships on fulltime charter; residual capacity of four United Kingdom Ro/Ro ships; and a Norwegian Ro/Ro ship on ad hoc basis. See
xxvi Mika Kerttunen, Tommi Koivula and Tommy Jeppsson, ‘EU Battlegroups: Theory and Development in the Light of Finnish-Swedish Co-operation’, Julkaisusarja 2, Series 2, Research Report No. 30, pg. 80.
xxvii Speech by Minister Willie O’Dea on Ireland’s Future Participation in UN Peace Support Missions McKee Barracks, ... ment (accessed 15 August 2007)
xxviii Also stated in White Paper on Defence, (February 2002),
... 05065d3/$FILE/whiteppr.pdf
xxix Ibid
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xxx EU battlegroups legislation - a Policy statement, Green Party, June 2006, (accessed 25 October, 2007)
xxxi Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2006, ... (accessed 05 November 2007).
xxxii Ibid. See also Defence (Amendment) Act 1960, and Defence (Amendment) Act 1993, (accessed 14 October 2007)
xxxiii EU battlegroups legislation - a Policy Statement, Green Party, June 2006.
xxxiv Defence (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2006, ... (accessed 05 November 2007).
xxxv Defence (Amendment) Bill 2006, Second Stage Speech, Dail Eireann, 14 July 2006, ... ent
xxxvi “(3) A contingent or member of the Permanent Defence Force may, with the prior approval of and on the authority of the Government, be dispatched for service outside the State as part of a force to be assembled or embarked before being deployed as part of a particular International United Nations Force if, but only if, the contingent or member is not so deployed until a resolution under subsection (1) of this section has been passed by Dail Eireann approving of their dispatch for such service.” Amendment of Section 2 of Act of 1960, pg. 5, Defence (Amendment) Act 2006,
xxxvii Bunreacht na hEireann (Constitution of Ireland), Article 29.4.9o
xxxviii Priority Questions. - Overseas Missions, Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 26 May 2005, (accessed 10 October 2007). xxxix Speech by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., at the Conference on “EU Battlegroups - Perspectives from Neutral and Non-aligned states”, University of Limerick, 28 April 2006, ... nt, (accessed 20 august 2007).
xl ‘Mitchell welcomes EU enlargement but criticises Irish deployment of Defence Forces’, (Accessed 11 February, 2008). xli Finnish legislation on peacekeeping operations to be revised - Working group report delivered, Ministry for Foreign Affairs Press release 146/200510 May, 2005, ...
xliii Seville Declarations on the Nice Treaty, 21 June 2002, (accessed 05 November 2007).
xliv Seanad Éireann - Volume 156, Defence (Amendment) Bill, 1998: Second Stage, 02 July 1998, (accessed 12 October
xlv Numbers have been reduced through a voluntary early retirement scheme costing nearly €50 million xlvi Defence Forces Annual Report, pg 65
xlvii Ibid.
xlviii Department of Defence Whitepaper (February 2000), 2.2 Developments in the External Security Environment 2.2.1, ... 02570c8005065d3/$FILE/whiteppr.pdf
xlix For the list of Contributors to UN peacekeeping operations as of 31 December 200 see .


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