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Peace groups protest Ireland’s involvement in Ukraine war

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Picture: via Communist Party of Ireland/taken on August 22, 2023 – Mobilisation outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, Ireland on August 22, 2023. Protesters have slammed the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail-Greens government for the decision to provide weapons training to Ukrainian army recruits and have called for maintaining the traditional Irish policy of neutrality in international conflicts

By Peoples Dispatch

Peace groups and leftists in Ireland organised a protest outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on Tuesday, August 22, to denounce the country’s involvement in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Activists from the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) participated in the demonstration.

They slammed the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail-Greens government for the decision to provide weapons training to Ukrainian army recruits and called for maintaining the traditional Irish policy of neutrality in international conflicts. The demonstrators also urged the political leadership in Russia and Ukraine to agree on an immediate ceasefire and talks. The Workers’ Party of Ireland, Irish Neutrality League, and Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland, among others, also participated in the protest.

According to the Irish Times, Irish troops are to provide weapons training to the new recruits of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This is despite the government’s repeated assurances on maintaining Irish neutrality and providing only ‘non-lethal’ assistance to Ukraine.

As a part of the European Union Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine (EUMAM), Ireland has been offering assistance to Ukraine in the form of medics, de-mining methods and engineering capabilities.

While addressing the mobilisation on Tuesday, PANA’s Roger Cole said that there must be an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine now, otherwise the situation will just continue to escalate into a nuclear war. In a recent poll conducted by PANA in Ireland, 87 percent of the respondents called for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine.

CPI General Secretary Jimmy Corcoran condemned the decision to provide weapons training as “another calculated attack on Irish neutrality”. He said in a letter which was read out at the protest on Tuesday, that the policy was “designed to ensure that war will continue, resulting in increased death and destruction”.

The Workers’ Party of Ireland stated, “It is obvious to anybody that training soldiers of one army how to kill soldiers of another army is hardly the actions of a neutral party. It also violates a previous pledge made by the government to provide only non-lethal assistance to Ukraine. The government clearly wishes to fall in line with the warmongers in Washington and kiss up to Nato. Unlike them, and in line with the views of the Irish people, we say no to war, no to Nato, yes to peace, and yes to neutrality.”

Earlier in June, activists from the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) had disrupted discussions on militarisation and membership of military alliances at the government’s first national security consultation meeting at University College Cork (UCC). Left-wing groups in Ireland have asserted that the traditional parties — Fine Gael and Fianna Fail — are compromising Ireland’s long-held policy of neutrality since joining the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), a widely criticised EU security and defence programme, in 2017.

Ireland also provided EUR 55 million (USD 59.75 million) worth of military aid to Ukraine, which was earmarked exclusively for non-lethal military assistance, through the European Peace Facility (EPF) in September 2022.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch