Defence Bill 2009 – why does China have a veto on where our troops go?

19th November, 2009

Debated the new Defence Bill with Minister O’Dea in the Seanad yesterday. This bill is designed to place our participation in the European Defence Agency on a statutory basis. Made a number of points in the debate.


Firstly, I welcome the fact the we had this bill. At the start of the year a number of people raised the need for Ireland to opt out of the EDA in order to secure support for the Lisbon referendum. I am very pleased that the government did not take this course of action. I heard the Danish government discuss the effects of such an opt out on their forces and national interest. I am convinced that our interests would not have been served by such an arrangement.


Secondly, I asked again why the deployment of our troops was conditional on UN Security Council approval. This is aprt of the fabled ‘triple lock’. This means that other countries can, in effect, block a decision by our government over the deployment of our armed forces. I am pretty sure this would rarely happen. The Government would just not bring the plan to the UN if they were not sure of support. But it did happen in 2003 in relation to the deployment of our troops in Macedonia.


Finally, I think the EDA could play a role in increasing standards within the arms and armaments trade. If they will play a role as a more centralised buyer then they should use this influence to look for more transparency in who buys what and for why?


The Minister acknowledged my points, particularly in relation to the UN question. He argues that this was the norm for most European countries and couldn’t see why Ireland should now be any different.