John Gormley is wrong on European Defence.

In today’s Irish Times  Green Party leader John Gormley calls for Ireland to withdraw from the European Defence Agency.

He’s quoted as saying:  “The point is the treaty itself says that member states shall improve their military capability and that is not acceptable to the Green Party. We should be able to spend our money in an independent way…..It is very important in the wording of the concession there is no onus on Ireland at all to spend money on military capability so we are not forced in a certain direction,”

I have a lot of respect for John Gormley, and agree with him on a lot of issues, but he is just kneejerking on this. There is a tendency amongst the pro-neutrality lobby (Of which, amazingly, I’m not a member.) to oppose Ireland spending money on defence based on the “weapons bad, MRI scanners good.” principle. Yet, at the same time, the Green Party and others are enthusiastic supporters of Irish participation in UN peacekeeping.

See where I’m going here? 

We do spend a considerable amount of money on defence here, so that, for example, our soldiers have the right kind of armoured vehicles, body armour and weapons to defend themselves. That’s what soldiers need to protect a refugee camp in Chad.

If any of our soldiers die because of poor equipment, caused by Green Party restrictions, will John Gormley take responsibility for their deaths? He’s an honourable guy, and just might. But do we honestly need to risk our soldiers lives and the career of one of our more thoughtful leaders just to prove an unthinking point about how we don’t like guns?   

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