Royal Air Force patrols over Irish air space are an “absolute undermining of our sovereign and neutral status”, according to security expert Senator Tom Clonan.
It comes amid claims the UK air force has been patrolling Irish air space as part of a secret deal with the Irish State.
A High Court case taken against the State by Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell claims that the agreement with the UK has been in place since at least 2017.
Reports this month suggested the agreement dates back to the early 1950s; however, it has never been officially confirmed.
The Tánaiste Micheal Martin described the reports as not accurate “in terms of interdiction” – but refused to discuss the issue in detail, noting that it is a matter of national security.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, security analyst and retired army captain Senator Tom Clonan said the patrols are an “absolute undermining of our sovereign and neutral status”.
“I don’t think we can claim to be neutral whilst that is happening,” he said.
“You know, one of the premier NATO members patrolling our controlled airspace, that is unacceptable.”
Senator Clonan said Ireland must remain militarily neutral – but said we still need huge investment in our Defence forces.
“The Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces recommended three levels of ambition – one, two and three,” he said. “I firmly believe we should be at the most ambitious level of that spending.
“We need to have a proper air force. We need to have aircraft that are capable of patrolling and keeping safe our air space.
“We have 75% of all the air traffic between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to the United States.
“In fact, we have one of the busiest air corridors in the world – we can’t see into it, we can’t patrol it, we can’t keep it safe.”
The independent senator said the situation is the same with the Irish Naval Service.
“We now only have two naval service vessels to patrol 15% of the European Union’s waters,” he said.
“That is 220 million maritime acres of ocean – and we are going to the Saudi Arabia in terms of wind energy in the future.
“We need to have a minimum investment there to be able to patrol and keep that safe and monitor it.”
Senator Clonan said the number one reason for having a functioning military is to have the ability to respond to humanitarian, manmade and natural crises.
“We are entering into a period of accelerating global climate change with a refugee crisis that goes with it,” he said.
“We need to have the human resources to be able to assist, intervene and deal with that.
“That is what our naval service is doing in the Mediterranean – trying to help the hundreds of thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean in rubber dinghies. 14 and 15-year-olds and infants, that is what we are about.”
Despite his calls for investment, the senator said there is no advantage or benefit whatsoever to Ireland joining NATO. Warning that doing so would undermine our status aa peace broker internationally.
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