Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says no to increased Pesco participation, saying Irish neutrality must be protected

Pringle says no to increased Pesco participation, saying Irish neutrality must be protected

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said he opposes increased participation in EU Pesco projects, saying, “I believe we are going down a very dangerous path here”.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I am very concerned at this motion’s proposal to significantly increase Ireland’s participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) Projects. This motion is seeking approval from the House to increase Ireland’s participation in Pesco projects from one project to a further four military projects. I oppose this completely.”

“Pesco is seen by many, including myself, as a precursor to an EU army and I would like to take this opportunity to voice my absolute opposition to an establishment of any type of EU army,” he said.

The deputy was speaking on a motion regarding reports by the Minister for Defence.

Deputy Pringle said: “I believe that we are going down a very dangerous path here and we must do all we can to protect our longstanding policy of neutrality. Despite reassurances by the government, it seems that our neutrality is under serious threat at the moment and recent government behaviour only proves this.

“The Taoiseach’s presence at an EU-Nato meeting in Madrid last week is a very public attempt to erode Ireland’s military neutrality, and this motion brought forward today of increased participation in military operations is a clear indicator of this government’s plans to abandon neutrality altogether.”

The deputy said: “This, following the increased focus on an EU army across the continent, suggests that we are slowly being dragged into war and one day we are going to look back and wonder where it all began. It begins with these small steps, these seemingly insignificant motions. These will be the moments that future historians will look back on and study if we are not careful.

“We are a small, neutral nation. Our strengths have always been in peacekeeping and speaking out against injustice, not in military participation. This is something we should be incredibly proud of and something which is clearly reflected in the reports brought forward by the Minister of Defence via this motion today.”

He said: “The 2021 report states that Ireland currently participates in six of the 12 peacekeeping missions operated by the UN and, according to the UN data, we are the sixth largest per capita troop-contributing country in the world and the largest in Europe. This is where our focus and our resources should remain. This is where they are important and where they will make the most significant impact.

“I welcome that the adoption of UNSCR 2594, spearheaded by Ireland, was the first UN Security Council resolution devoted to the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.

“The resolution focuses on the transition from UN peace missions to a UN civilian presence that supports peacebuilding in post-conflict environments, and ensuring that civilians stay protected throughout this process. I think Ireland has a unique insight on post conflict environments given our recent history and I am glad that our knowledge and experience is being utilised at the highest level.

“Again, this is where our strengths lie and this is where our focus should be,” Deputy Pringle said.