Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has urged Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to halt their attempts to chip away at Irish neutrality.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking from Brussels as the European Defence Agency held its annual conference in the city.
The event, which this year was themed around military drones and robotics, is the annual get-together of members of the EU establishment and international arms dealers.
“Today’s conference is a clear indicator of the direction the EU is headed,” she said. “Taxpayers’ money developing drones and autonomous weapons. Unless defence remains a national competence, our neutrality will be meaningless.
“The militarisation agenda is already well underway. Fine Gael are actively undermining Irish neutrality at an EU level, while Fianna Fáil, as we saw with PESCO, are happy to support their coalition partners when it comes to undermining it at home.
“In 2017, Fine Gael voted to adopt the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) in the European Parliament. The EDIDP signals an alarming shift in the EU towards militarisation.
“Funding of €500 million will be reallocated from other programmes in 2019 and 2020 to fund the EDIDP. Worse still, the EDIDP is only the precursor to the the much larger European Defence Fund, a €13 billion military funding scheme.
“Drones will not solve the problems we have today and cannot protect us from the kind of threat we face. Quite the opposite, in fact. The use of such weapons around the world has only served to fuel fundamentalism and extremism.
“Imagine what could be achieved, with even a fraction of that funding, were it put into infrastructure, health, education and supporting developing nations. These are the weapons that can tackle the complex issues and threats we face today.
“The military-industrial complex has alarming influence over the EU and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have clearly felt the allure of the vast funding it commands.
“The huge amount of funding being pumped into this industry is essentially a taxpayer subsidy for companies that promote war.
“It is crucial that we defend our neutrality. Ireland’s position of neutrality not only defends us but can act as bulwark in Europe against the insidious militarisation of the EU. It can be an example and a starting point for how we work towards disarmament, conflict resolution, and the promotion of peace and stability.
“I would urge Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to end their assault on it.”
Liadh Ní Riada MEP
6 Patrick’s Quay, Cork
021 451 8986