by Barry Sweeney, July 14, 2018, Peace and Neutrality Alliance.
Opposition TDs (Members of Parliament) in Ireland are mobilizing against a sharp rise in defense spending as demanded by Ireland’s membership of Pesco, the EU military alliance. 42 TDs (almost a third of the Parliament) and Senators have signed up to a pact organized around defense of Irish neutrality. The first meeting of the New Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Group on Peace, Neutrality and Disarmament took place last week to draw up a plan of action.
The inaugural meeting of the Group was chaired by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. The group, hopes to bring together the 42 TDs that voted in opposition to the PESCO Agreement in the Dail along with those Senators and MEPs who are very concerned about Foreign Affairs. The next meeting of Oireachtas Group will take place on the 19th of September where members will discuss defense aspects of the budget and the impact of PESCO on overall spending.
There is a big push on for Ireland to seriously increase its defense spending as a result of its Pesco membership. Pesco membership involves a binding commitment to increase defense expenditure. To comply Ireland would have to multiply fourfold its defense outlay from 0,3% to 1,3%. This would mean a rise in the current years spend from 946 million Euro to 4 billion Euro. This is at a time when investment is badly needed for houses and hospitals on the Emerald Isle, not to mention the implications for Ireland’s traditional Neutrality stance.