Irish neutrality suffering death by a thousand cuts

In recent times our Irish government is doing all it can to end Irish neutrality against the wishes of the Irish people. The Fine Gael ard fheis passed a motion to effectively scrap the triple lock on sending Irish soldiers on overseas missions, by eliminating the need for a UN mandate. Our Defence Forces have become so run down due to lack of government support that it seems like our government wants to decommission our Defence Forces and invite Nato or a European Union defence alliance to defend our country thereby ending the sovereignty of the Irish people and the Irish state.

Our government’s unconstitutional agreement allowing the British Royal Air Force to engage in military operations within Irish sovereign airspace was just another step towards fully abandoning Irish sovereignty. The most serious ongoing breach of Irish neutrality has been our government’s decision in 2001 to turn Shannon Airport into a US forward air base to wage illegal wars in the Middle East. 

A further retrograde step is due to happen this weekend.

Today four Nato warships of the Royal Netherlands Navy have been permitted to visit Cork harbour.

HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) will be docking at the Cobh Cruise Terminal. HNLMS Zeven Provincien (F802) is due to dock at Marino Point. HNLMS Groningen (P843) is due to dock at North Custom House Quay. HNLMS Van Amstel (F831) is due to dock at JJ Horgan’s Wharf. The democratic republic, that was hard fought for a century ago, was meant to achieve government of the people, by the people, for the people. That vision seems to be rapidly disappearing in Ireland, Europe and in the wider world as the abuses of military power are replacing the rule of law and basic morality. Irish neutrality is suffering death by a thousand cuts. 


Castletroy, Co Limerick

All carers need to be properly funded

I am writing this as an Aontú representative but I am also drawing from personal experience. The plight of unpaid carers has largely gone unremarked – yet, they provide a service that would cost the Westminster government millions to replace. Most are caring for a loved ones and this emotional attachment is cynically taken advantage of by government departments because they know that carers will do their utmost to take care of their charges in spite of their abysmal treatment from successive administrations.

The benefits provided are a bad joke – a paltry £69.70 is the weekly allowance and if you work and take home more than £132 then your entitlement ends. In effect, working carers are unlikely to claim the benefit. This is in spite of the numerous extra costs that are a reality when caring for someone who may have complex needs. Unpaid carers looked on in dismay at the Covid fiasco when millions was wasted by the partnership coalition at Stormont. They were disproportionately affected by the squandering of resources. All carers have to be properly funded.

For those who are employed their life is one of preparation, before work and continuous care after they return home. Others cannot work because their charges require 24/7 attention. In either situation, the carer is put under acute stress. This risks unpaid carers developing health issues directly attributable to this constant pressure. Pressure that is rarely alleviated by a ‘care’ system that allows them little or no respite. Many can feel like prisoners in their own home. They are crying out for compassion. Proper resourcing of this care would be cost effective – if a carer’s health breaks down then the state has to fund them and their charges. Carers need this help now, not if and when the executive gets up and running again. If unpaid carers are unable to fulfil their roles then an already struggling health service will be put under an even more pressure.

Last night I attended a Carers Rights Event at the Armagh Hotel. I was happy to answer any questions that I could.

Many of the unpaid carers who attended the event felt isolated while many others shared their situation.

It was a great opportunity to discuss how the care community can work together to highlight our issues with the public and powers that be.


Aontú, Upper Bann

Concerns over proposed road toll increases

Addressing the tolls issue after returning from Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh Egypt, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, said he would be “reluctant” to take money from road maintenance and other transport priorities to reduce or defer toll increases. The minister said that private companies would be entitled to compensation if the government intervened to stop expected increases. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar mused that he would like to see a reduction or deferral of the planned increases on January 1. The price hikes are linked to the current rate of inflation, which has increased by 8.6 per cent between August 2021 and August 2022. It comes after Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) announced that it will increase tolls on nine out of 10 roads to their ‘maximum level’. There are 10 toll roads on the national road network. Eight are operated under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, while two  – the M50 and Dublin Port Tunnel – are operated directly on behalf of TII. The Dublin Port Tunnel is the only route that will not be affected by price increases. TII said revenue is used for purposes including motorway maintenance, toll collection and operations, and for the maintenance of the wider national road network. Eamon Ryan said road maintenance and public transport could be impacted if toll rises are cut back. 


Dublin 24