We Irish never invaded anyone else’s country. Yet there’s hardly a stretch of remote coastline on Earth where you could step ashore and not be met by a friendly, “How’s it going?”
One of our better comedians suggested that we couldn’t invade anyone so we infested countries instead. While Paddy has a reputation for being good in a fight, (rightly or wrongly), we have never got together and attacked any other country. That makes us pretty unique historically in Europe. It also makes us an obvious candidate for neutrality. Even when the goose-stepping armies of Fascists swept across Europe, we never formally became involved.
Mind you, thousands of Irish men joined the British and American forces at the time and by the end of the war, eight of their number had earned Victoria Crosses. But we are officially neutral and because of this, Irish peacekeepers are always in big demand. Even in the Arab countries, they have nothing bad to say about the Paddies. We may have a lip for the beer and like nothing better than a fry for breakfast, with all that that means over there, but our lads have even stood between Israel and the Palestinians without being killed.
So I find it troubling then that a Fine Gael MEP says Ireland needs to re-examine its neutrality ahead of Brexit. Brian Hayes made the comments following European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s annual state of the union address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He expanded on this saying, “The threats now aren’t threats of armies or tanks rolling into one country. The threats now are cybersecurity, jihadist terrorism.
They’re the new threats and I think the discussion on the future of Europe at home and here allows us an opportunity to look again at our defense commitments, to look again at our security and to look at how we can … be a more effective and a more integrated tool of policy within the European Union.”
But then little Brian loses the run of himself altogether. “We helped build this thing called Europe. We’re one of the oldest, most grown up, wealthiest members of this club. We’ve got to defend it too in my view and I think we need to look at this policy, especially now that Britain are leaving the European Union,” Hayes stated. Jesus! But the air in Brussels must be really rarified. So Brian is a former secondary school teacher and Fine Gael National Youth & Education Officer. He has three kids, two of them boys. He is heading for his fifties so it is unlikely he’ll ever have to put on the hairy green uniform and take up a gun. But his boys Mark & Michael would probably be of age for National Service if the balloon does go up. Does he want to see his two sons go to war in a European Army? Of course we have seen from other countries that the offspring of the wealthy and powerful tend not to end up on the front lines in any war.
As tends to be the case also, our politicians spoon-feed us a bit of a story at the time and Brian’s opening salvo seems harmless enough on first reading. It’s just a case of sharing security information, isn’t it? Well, no! You see, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to see a European Army set up as soon as possible and the only thing we can rely on right now to keep our kids out of that is our neutral stance. Jean-Claude believes that it’s all very fine having the info on the bad lads but when you know who they are, you need an army to fight the maggots.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there is no circumstance where the Irish would not consider going to war but an obvious one just doesn’t spring to mind so readily. I believe instead that each situation should be looked at on a case by case basis. If the EU decides to introduce conscription for a newly formed European Army, I don’t want to see my son automatically rounded up. That is not to say that there will never be a need for my boy to take up arms and indeed, were it necessary to protect my own home place, I would shoot back also despite my years. But I object to a half-wit like Hayes messing with one of the sacred planks of this country purely to get himself into the limelight or perhaps kiss the European Commission President’s ass.
Irish neutrality is something the Irish people need to decide on at the ballot box, not by some overpaid pompous EU Commissioner. Zip it Brian!