Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Matt Carthy, has said that neutrality allows Ireland to play a constructive role in the world and the principle should be enshrined in the Irish constitution and EU treaties.
Deputy Carthy was speaking during Dáil statements yesterday on the Government's proposed Consultative Forum on International Security. He highlighted that Sinn Féin wants to rebuild the Irish Defence Forces so it can protect the country's neutrality; defend and monitor its skies and seas; and protect it from modern threats, including cyber attacks.
Meanwhile, Deputy Carthy criticised the structure of the Consultative Forum saying it's more about attempting to reshape public opinion and less about public discussion. He added that independent foreign policy and military neutrality are crucial in allowing Ireland to play an important role in the wider world.
"Sinn Féin's vision is for Ireland to play a constructive role in the wider world where Ireland is committed to diplomacy, humanitarianism, peace building, and cooperation with other States on global challenges including poverty, world hunger, climate change, conflict resolution and migration.
"We should be proud of our military neutrality, and resist attempts by some in government to recast it as a weakness or a failing. The legacy of Irish neutrality is our role in working for nuclear non-proliferation, humanitarianism, contributing to the drafting of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, peace keeping, and the proud record of our United Nations peacekeepers in the Lebanon, Congo, Chad, South Sudan and elsewhere.
"It has been our contribution to making the world a better and a safer place. Being proud of our neutrality means being proud of those who served on UN peacekeeping missions, including those fought and died in the Niemba Ambush, those who fought, and whose bravery was long unrecognised, in the siege of Jadotville, all those who died on UN Peace Keeping duty including Pte Sean Rooney who was killed in December last year.
"Sinn Féin are proud of those who have served this country and we are proud of Ireland's role in seeking peace rather than conflict," said Deputy Carthy.