Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has said that she is “appalled and worried” by comments made by TDs that “we should get rid of our neutrality”.
The Independent TD was speaking in the Dáil yesterday during Leaders’ Questions in defence of Ireland’s neutrality, arguing that it is not a passive policy, but a very active one.
Connolly said that neutrality has been “under threat by every single representative of the establishment” for a long time and cited both the Nice Treaty and Lisbon Treaty as examples of this.
She also called out biased commentary in the media which suggested they are “bold children when they stand up”, and said that this is not helpful to democracy.
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“Fast-forward now to the middle of a crisis,” said Deputy Connolly, “where we should be using all our effort to help the Ukrainian people, with whom I stand in solidarity, and we are being deflected by various powerful voices that infantilise and demonise people, including Deputies, who dare to speak out.”
She said that they are being told they should “grow up” and that they should be a “voice for war and more death”.
“I fundamentally object to that and to the pressure being put on that we would all speak with the same voice. I will not,” she said.
“That is not what I was elected to do, while still standing in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and doing everything possible to help them.
“Where is our voice for the diplomacy that should be taking place? It seems to be lost on the Government that it is meeting in Versaille and the last time an agreement was made in Versaille it related to a second world war.”
The Taoiseach said that Deputy Connolly’s initial comment that he supported a change to the policy was disingenuous, as he had not argued in favour of change.
But he said that “in the new world of cybersecurity, we are vulnerable.”
“Who came to our assistance when we had a savage cyberattack on our health services? Poland, the UK and countries in the European Union.
“We have to acknowledge the world is changing from a security perspective and there are vulnerabilities in Europe that we cannot be blind to.
“That is why we need, at a later time, a more informed debate and reflection on it.”