Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says Council of Europe must respect Irish people’s support for military neutrality

Pringle says Council of Europe must respect Irish people’s support for military neutrality

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the Council of Europe must respect the Irish people’s support for Irish military neutrality, in a debate at the council today.

Deputy Pringle said: “Among the changes that the conflict is driving in Europe is the decision, apparently, of the Finnish and Swedish governments to ask to join NATO. There is some merit perhaps in their decision from their point of view, but it is not for me to comment on that. And it would be helpful if they did not comment on Ireland’s discussions around the same topic.

“This will lead to even more pressure on Ireland to abandon our traditional stance of military neutrality, even though consistently over 70 per cent of the Irish people have said that they do not want to change the policy when surveyed.

“But that does not seem to satisfy the war mongers in our own media, government and possibly even the EU. I believe that the views of the Irish people need to be respected and I would hope that the Council of Europe would respect and support that view as well, particularly with the upcoming Irish presidency of the council,” he said.

Deputy Pringle is in Strasbourg, where he took part today in a debate in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s continued aggression against Ukraine and the council’s role and response. He was speaking on behalf of the Unified European Left group.

The deputy said: “The horrific invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation will have far reaching effects across Europe and indeed the world.

“The continued aggression is shocking, and the harm being done to the civilian population of Ukraine is terrible. There is no doubt that the efforts of this council must be to support the people of Ukraine and put whatever pressure we can on the government of the Russian Federation to end this aggression,” he said. He said the council should not support the government of Ukraine in the banning of political parties.

The deputy said: “I believe that there is a need for some line of communication to be ready as well to push for a peaceful settlement of this conflict and the Council of Europe should have a role in that.” He said the council can achieve this by keeping lines of communication open with the people of Russia.

Deputy Pringle said: “The attack on neutrality is matched with a demand or wish for Ireland to join NATO, or if not at least join the EU version of NATO. To that end as well I would also have concerns with the continued alignment of the Council of Europe with the EU. Could this organisation become a vassal of the EU?”

The deputy concluded: “This question needs to be addressed and might be a more pressing argument, considering the Russian aggression. Russian aggression is having immediate, deadly effects on the people of Ukraine but there also can be long-lasting effects across Europe.”