The decision shortly before the end of last month by Denis Halliday a former Irish UN official to return an honour (Presidents Medal) he had received to NUI Galway goes to the heart of the debate it Ireland about how successive governments have eroded the neutrality and peacekeeping ethic built up over generations by the Irish Defence Forces.
Halliday was protesting against the decision to award an honorary degree to former Taoiseach Enda Kenny by the University and he said in a statement that Mr Kenny had “failed to respond to the concerns of many Irish people who believe in Irish neutrality “.
Mr Halliday said he believed he represented those who supported Irish military participation in UN peacekeeping functions, but opposed the Government’s facilitation of use of Shannon airport by the US military.
Factors such as the participation of the Irish Defence Forces in EU military structures, the British-Irish military accord and the continued use of Shannon by military flights by the US have energised the peace and neutrality lobby in the State in recent years.
Image: Irish Defence Forces have served with the UN as peacekeepers over fifty years. Many believe the erosion of neutrality undermines the credibility that troops have earned – often at great cost.
pp Celtic League