Irish President Michael D Higgins said the State is “playing with fire” during a dangerous period of "drift" in foreign policy towards NATO.
In an interview with the Business Post, the President warned against moving away from Ireland's traditional policy of "positive neutrality".
President Higgins said Ireland should be careful when “burying ourselves in other people’s agendas” and was critical of the European Union for its increased military posturing.
He also questioned the makeup of the upcoming Consultative Forum on International Security aimed at discussing the future of Irish neutrality.
President Higgins claimed the forum is mostly made up of “the admirals, the generals, the air force” and “formerly neutral countries who are now joining NATO”.
'Exerting Ireland's influence abroad'
Tánaiste Micheál Martin today released a statement saying the Government has made it clear that it does not intend to change Ireland’s policy of military neutrality – but it must evaluate foreign policy.
He said he is “proud to be part of a Government that has been particularly ambitious in exerting Ireland’s influence abroad”.
“Since Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022... every country in Europe has examined and re-examined its foreign, security and defence policies. Ireland is no different.”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence said the upcoming forum will be “an open, inclusive, evidence-based and public debate” on foreign defence policies.
'We need to have this forum'
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee would not tell Newstalk if she thought it was inappropriate for the President to criticise the Government but said a debate about foreign policy is needed.
“The President himself knows where the boundaries are here, and he expressed his views,” she told On the Record with Gavan Reilly.
“Many would agree with him. There are many who would disagree, and that's why we need to have this forum.
“This is so important - that we bring together those who have different views, different opinions, and that we reach a consensus.”
Ms McEntee also said, to the best of her knowledge, neutral countries such as Malta and Austria are among those invited to the forum.