Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Sinn Fein and Defence Spending: Eskimos complaining about paying for the fire brigade.

Posted by Jason O on Sep 25, 2009 in Irish Politics, Lisbon Treaty

A big tank: Bet the Shinners would have liked a few of them in 1969.

A big tank: Bet the Shinners would have liked a few of them in 1969.

Looking at Sinn Fein’s posters (You know, the one with the big tank!) gets me thinking once again about Sinn Fein’s mindset. I’ve heard Mary Lou ask, in a debate, as to whether we wanted our “Tax Euros” to be spent on weapons or health and education services. On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer. But what I’d like to ask Mary Lou is this: What’s Sinn Fein’s policy on the defence of Estonia? I presume they haven’t got one, and in fairness, no Irish party has one. But the Estonians do. They’ve had Russian tanks on their streets in the last 20 years, and take it seriously. That’s why they got into NATO as soon as they could, and support European defence cooperation and the European Defence Agency because they feel that they are the best guarantee of their freedom as a small country from a domineering large and agressive neighbour.

But by Mary Lou’s standards, they’re mad. Sinn Fein’s approach to European defence is like an Eskimo wandering off a passing ice floe into Dublin city, seeing a fire station, and chastising Dubliners for wasting money on these fancy red machines, because he’s never seen an igloo go on fire, and so can’t comprehend why anyone would need such a thing. Maybe if the Estonians got the Russians to wear tee-shirts with “B Specials” on them they would get the idea?

As for being forced to increase defence spending, yes, there is a committment by member states to improve their defence capabilities, but it is up to the member states to decide what that means. Look at the British debate about the Trident nuclear missile. Why hasn’t the EU intervened? Because it’s none of their business. The Lisbon Treaty is very detailed: If there is Brussels control of defence spending, why aren’t the actual details in it? Could it be because it doesn’t exist?      

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