SIR – Ireland’s previous stint on the UN Security Council in 2001 is nothing to be proud of in terms of promoting world peace.
In 2001, under the then Fianna Fáil government with Brian Cowen as Foreign Minister, Ireland voted for several resolutions that ultimately approved the US led invasion of Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, in what then Labour TD Michael D. Higgins termed ‘an illegal war.’ Nineteen years later with no end in sight America’s longest war has caused the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands, many of them women and children, and has created deep bitterness, division and sectarianism.
Since then successive Irish Governments have displayed a shocking partisanship that ultimately favours war and militarism that simultaneously destroy both human life and our fragile planet. Over the last almost two decades, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments have aided and abetted the US military war machine as it intervened, either directly or through its proxies, in multiple countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine and Yemen, by allowing armed troops, armaments and rendition flights pass through Shannon Airport.
They have equally, despite the optimistic rhetoric, been woefully lacking in their response to the refugee crisis, much of it the result of these wars.
There is much play in your coverage of the announcement of the UN Security Council seat of Ireland’s ‘position on Palestinians.’ Readers should remember Israel’s brutal killing of over sixty civilians in Gaza on May 15th, 2018 while the US opened its new Embassy in Jerusalem, a move guaranteed to threaten any possibility of a two-state solution.
Kuwait’s subsequent calling for an investigation into the killings by Israel was blocked by the US at the UN Security Council. At the same time Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney called for restraint on both sides and offered the Palestinians a solar panel project. That’s some worthy position!
If the Fine Gael government was seriously interested in justice for Palestine it could for example have supported the Occupied Territories Bill in the current Programme for Government, which has been a tiny step in the recognition of Palestinian rights and a mark against Israel’s ongoing illegal settlements and theft of Palestinian land.
It could have openly supported UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for a world ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And it could have at long last closed Shannon Airport to the US military. It is unconscionable that this facility was not stopped during the Covid-19 lock down. Imagine that the only flights passing through Irish airspace during the lockdown were either those carrying PPE for our frontline healthcare workers or those carrying heavily-armed soldiers on route to kill and be killed in foreign wars.
And it could also speak out more forcefully and honestly on the connection between perpetual warfare and the refugee and environmental crises.
Thus, the Fine Gael’s government’s recent successful bid for a seat on the UN Security Council speaks more of hubris and sycophancy, and a desire to cosy up to particular world powers, than of any concerns for world peace and justice. Instead of standing firmly against war, militarism and occupation, it has satisfied itself with a meaningless role on a dysfunctional body controlled by the world’s militaristic superpowers wielding their vetoes like imperialists of old with scant regard for human rights.
The UN Security Council is well past time for disbandment and should be replaced by a more democratic and representative body.
PRO Irish Anti-War Movement,
PO Box 9260,