A number of events in late June must raise serious concerns regarding the direction in which this state and its political establishment are going, and wish to bring us.
Firstly there is the appointment of a former deputy chief constable of the PSNI as commissioner of the Garda Síochána. Relatives for Justice have pointed out that Drew Harris “has at every opportunity sought to thwart families’ search for truth and accountability when the state has killed people . . . He was publicly criticised by the former Garda Commissioner for his evidence at the Smithwick tribunal who famously cited his evidence as being ‘nonsense on stilts.’”
His appointment as head of the Garda Síochána speaks volumes about the lack of commitment by this state to getting at the truth or securing justice for the many victims of British state-directed killings, both in the Six Counties and those murdered here in this state, for example in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
It is just another example, following the agreement on “permanent structured co-operation” (PESCO) with EU and NATO states, of how enmeshed this state is in the imperialist strategies of the United States, Britain, and the EU.
The subservience of this strategy of alignment with imperialism was further illustrated in a speech by the tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs, Simon Coveney, on 25 June at a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He was quoted in a press statement by his department as saying that this state is playing “an important and central role” in influencing and shaping EU foreign policy and in its “engagement in the Horn of Africa/Red Sea region,” as well as in Jordan.
The EU Global Strategy, launched in June 2016, is aimed at strengthening links with NATO, with increased military spending by EU member-states.
But Ireland’s “important and central role” exists only in Coveney’s imagination. The Irish state has no influence on the strategic decisions of the European Union.
The secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, was unambiguous in his comments. Speaking after a joint NATO-EU summit meeting in early June, he stated that the two organisations are co-operating in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, and that NATO is providing help to the EU’s “Operation Sophia” in the Mediterranean, with ten ships and maritime surveillance aircraft now in the region.
Stoltenberg emphasised that NATO and the EU are also co-operating on “military mobility, infrastructure, [and] legal hurdles, to make sure that we are able to move forces quickly through Europe if needed.” This would lead one to believe that Shannon Airport is an essential military “asset” for NATO, and not just for the United States.
Speaking about NATO-EU co-operation in the western Balkans, Stoltenberg said: “We have been working together there for many, many years. And it is really encouraging to see that there is progress, there is some hope.” He went further, stating that he was “confident that when the NATO leaders meet at the Summit next month [July] in Brussels they will decide to open accession talks with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.”
Hence the recognition by Greece of the Yugoslav republic of Macedonia as “Northern Macedonia” in mid-June, with NATO and the EU getting all the ducks in a row.
This state and the Irish establishment have long since given up military neutrality, seeing it as an obstacle to their full participation in imperialism’s global military and political strategy. Fine Gael in particular, but also Fianna Fáil and the liberal elite and “intelligentsia,” have been engaged in a constant battle against what they see as backward Irish “nationalism.” The past is the past, and we must look to the future, and shape that future within the European Union and within imperialism.
This evolving realignment of the economic, political and military interests and priorities of this state drives a coach and horses through the policy of those who advocate “constructive engagement” with the European Union, who claim that “reform” is possible from within.
Once again the national question raises its head. We must look to the prediction of James Connolly. Raising the Green Flag over a building or seeking ministerial office has meant very little. Without national independence and sovereignty—the very tools required for changing the real material conditions in the lives of working people—imperialism will still rule us and decide our fate.