Disregard of Centenary of Anti-Conscription Strike further evidence of drift from positive neutrality

23 April 2018

Government’s complete disregard of today’s Centenary of the Anti-Conscription Strike further evidence of drift from Irelands traditional policy of positive neutrality.

Speaking at a Labour Party event to mark today’s Centenary of the Anti -Conscription Strike, in Wicklow this evening, Labour Party Chairperson and recently selected Dáil Candidate for Wicklow Jack O‘Connor accused the Government & Fianna Fáil of drifting away from Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality.

Mr O’Connor said:

“It is deeply regrettable that the Government has chosen to completely ignore today’s Centenary of the Anti-Conscription Strike, which was organised by the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party. The action, which was virtually universally supported throughout the country, beneficially affected the people of Ireland at least as much as some other events in “the decade of rebellion” which have been acknowledged, remembered and celebrated. It left Lloyd George’s conscription strategy in tatters and saved tens of thousands from the slaughter of the great imperialist war. Moreover, it also dramatically affected the course our subsequent history.

“It is unclear whether it is being ignored because it was so successfully organised by the Irish Trade Union Congress & Labour Party, or more worryingly because it highlights the recent and dangerous drift from our traditional policy of positive neutrality on the part of the Government & Fianna Fáil.

“The lessons of the Anti-Conscription Strike resonate today, in an increasingly unstable world. We would do well to reiterate our traditional policy of positive neutrality in the light of an increasingly bellicose geo-political drift towards growing militarism and building “defence capacity”.

“Indeed, it was a similar emphasis on “defence” which precipitated the slide into World War 1. If the lessons of history demonstrate anything, the best “defence” is multilateral de -militarisation, instead of the opposite. This allows potential protagonists to redeploy scarce resources into economic and social development in their respective countries.

“The unseemly haste with which the Government & Fianna Fáil rammed through the decision to sign up for PESCO, ( Permanent Structured Co-operation), without a proper debate last December, is deeply concerning. At very least The Labour Party’s call to defer any decision to enable a public debate to take place and for the Oireachtas Defence Committee to have the opportunity to hear submissions from independent experts, should have been facilitated.

“If we are to take decisions of such enormous magnitude, which entail drifting from our long established policy of positive neutrality, for which we are internationally respected and which play into an increasingly dangerous geo-political situation, we should at least take the time for informed debate on what we might be sleep walking into.” he concluded.

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