Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.48 11 Jun 2021


Share this article


Concerns have been raised about Irish neutrality and the country's ability to defend itself.

Cathal Berry, Independent TD for Kildare South and former Army Ranger, believes that the Oireachtas needs to debate some of the issues surrounding Ireland's defence capabilities.

A defence pact between the British and Irish governments since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 is detailed in today's Irish Independent.

Advertisement

The agreement allows RAF Typhoon assets to intercept rogue aircraft violating Irish airspace.

While the government insists it does not comment on national security matters, the issue raises questions about the funding and capabilities of the Irish Defence Forces.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Deputy Berry explained that the British and Irish governments arranged "a secret deal" post 9/11 that if a rogue aircraft was identified in Ireland's airspace, that the Royal Airforce could intervene.

"The big issue I would have is the Constitutionality of this deal, it hasn't really been approved by the Oireachtas at all, it was created and laid down without the knowledge of the Irish Air Corps and there's a lot about the deal we don't know," he said.

"How much did it cost, what are the British government getting in return, and is there any negotiating leverage that the British government have over the Irish government now because this defence pact is in place?"

irish airspace neutrality An RAF Typhoon jet fighter. Credit: PA

He said that a motion before the Dáil on the matter "is a good way to go" so that a public debate can happen and a vote can ultimately be taken on whether the pact is legal and appropriate.

Deputy Berry referenced Article 15.6.1° of the Constitution which provides that "the right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas".

Therefore, he believes it would be appropriate that the Oirechats gives its approval for the arrangement to be in place.

He said that while such a defence pact might be prudent from a defence perspective, the problem is that little details are known about the agreement.

"We live in a democratic, open, free society and it's perfectly normal to have these arrangements with your neighbouring states so let's publish the agreement and let's see what it is and what impacts it has on Irish sovereignty and Irish independence," he added.

'We're militarily neutered'

As for neutrality, "anyone who thinks this country is neutral is deluding themselves", Deputy Berry stated.

"It's a particular brand of neutrality, I think Brendan Howlin said it best in the Dáil a few months back, he said we're not militarily neutral, we're militarily neutered," he said.

"Neutrality is a very convenient label that is used as an excuse to underfund our military and our armed forces.

However, he explained that the British-Irish agreement is about "flight safety and air policing", rather than air defence.

When it comes to the pact and Irish neutrality, Deputy Berry said that all he is looking for is "transparency".

"Firstly, I think a Dáil debate on the matter would be prudent," he explained.

"Secondly, I think the Irish Air Corps needs to have a number of direct meetings with the Royal Air Force and that hasn't happened yet on a tactical and technical level."

Main image: TD Cathal Berry speaking in the Dáil. Credit: CathalBerry.com

Share this article


Read more about

9/11 Cathal Berry Defence Forces Irish Defence Forces Neutrality

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

The Pat Kenny Show

The Pat Kenny Show

09:00-12:00

Share

Up next

LUNCHTIME LIVE

LUNCHTIME LIVE

12:00-14:00

Share

MONCRIEFF

MONCRIEFF

14:00-16:00

Share

THE HARD SHOULDER

THE HARD SHOULDER

16:00-19:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

19:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on