Luke Ming Flanagan MEP to host public meeting on Irish neutrality, PESCO and EU Militarisation.
A public meeting entitled ‘Are We Heading Towards an EU Army?’ will be held in the ILAS Theatre in Galway on Thursday 8th November 2018 at 7pm. The meeting will be hosted by Luke Ming Flanagan, MEP for Midlands Northwest, and will explore the issues of Irish neutrality, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) & EU militarisation.
A number of TDs, campaigners and academics have been confirmed as speakers for the meeting, which will take place in the theatre of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society on NUI Galway's North Campus, on Upper Newcastle Road, from 7pm to 10pm on Thursday 8th November 2018.
Speakers confirmed for the meeting include the following: Clare Daly TD, Dublin Fingal, Mick Wallace TD, Wexford, Catherine Connolly TD, Galway West, Thomas Pringle TD, Donegal, Dr Karen Devine, Lecturer in International Relations & EU politics, Dublin City University, Roger Cole, Chairman of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, and Claudia Hyadt, Campaigner on military policy and member of German Die Linke party.
The meeting aims to explore the idea of Irish neutrality, whether it enjoys support and how it is affected by Ireland’s participation in projects such as NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and the continued use of Shannon Airport by US military planes.
The meeting will then move on to discuss the shift towards militarism across Europe, observed recently in the European Commission’s seven-year budget proposal Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and in a speech made by Manfred Weber, the frontrunner for the EPP spitzenkandidat and president of the next Commission.
On 13th November 2017, 23 EU member states put forward a notification to launch military project Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). In December 2017, the Irish government made an unexpected decision that Ireland would also join the project. The vote in the Dáil on December 7th 2017 was passed by 75 votes to 42. President Michael D Higgins stated during the presidential election campaign, that he was worried about Irish neutrality and that the government had a duty to explain why it made the decision to sign up to PESCO (Sunday Times 21/10/2018).
Echoing the president’s call for answers, Luke Ming Flanagan MEP said that “Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Independent Alliance deny that PESCO affects Irish neutrality, but this is not the case. It is far more sinister. It is the redefining of what the European Union was formed to be. The road from a ‘Peace Project’ to a ‘European Defence Union’ has begun. With an increase in the Security and Defence budget of twenty-two times, not including border control with a budget of €21 billion for an army of 10,000 border guards, and the accelerating development of the European Defence Industry. The question needs to be asked ‘Are we heading towards an EU army?”
Speaking ahead of the public meeting, the MEP for Midlands Northwest explained how the meeting will run. He said “There will be two panels on the night. The first will discuss ‘Does PESCO affect Irish neutrality?' and the second panel topic will be ‘What is happening with the militarisation of Europe?’. We have assembled an excellent panel of knowledgeable speakers and I invite anyone to come along and discuss what role Ireland should play in this era of European Militarisation"