The most recent attempt to amend the constitution and insert a neutrality amendment was in March 2022, when the assorted Alphabet Left deputies proposed the 39th amendment. The wording is below, and raises some interesting questions.
3.1° War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict, or conduct of war or other armed conflict, save where it is immediately necessary in defence of the State in the case of actual invasion or armed attack, and with the assent of Dáil Éireann.
3° Ireland is a neutral state. To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non-membership of military alliances and shall not allow its territory to be used by other states to transport war material or personnel to third countries for the purpose of war or other armed conflict
4.10° The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict or in the conduct of war or other armed conflict, where such a decision would include the State.
For example, would such an amendment leave the government open to be taken to court for massively underspending on national defence? The proposed amendment above requires the state to “…not allow its territory to be used by other states to transport war material or personnel”. Does that oblige the state to acquire the capability to enforce that constitutional imperative, that is, military radar and interceptor aircraft? Or can we just accept the word of the United States as we do now, which makes the whole thing a waste of time? Or does “the assent of Dail Eireann” provide a get out clause to basically maintain the status that we’re “neutral” (wink wink)?
Does the European Council optout mean that in the event of an actual attack on Ireland the state would not be permitted to support the EU taking action to help Ireland defend itself? That’s certainly a very Irish solution to an Irish problem.
Also, the “immediately necessary” clause is interesting. It’s the equivalent of saying that the state will order a Fire Truck from the manufacturers only when it hears of a house on fire.
What about our relationship with Palestine? If we recognise the state of Palestine, as many on the left wish, doesn’t that mean we have to cease funding the Palestinian state as we cannot aid any foreign power (including Palestine) involved in an armed conflict, Unless of course, it becomes the policy of the Irish state that Israel is not engaged in any sort of hostile act against the Palestinian people, or that Israeli fighters bombing Palestine does not count as “armed conflict” under Irish law.
Which would be a novel interpretation, it has to be said.