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Independence or Empire? Ireland and the Nice Treaty

The Peace & Neutrality Alliance was established to advocate an Independent Irish foreign policy, maintain Irish Neutrality and promote a Transformed United Nations and the OSCE as the organisations through which Ireland should pursue its security concerns. PANA therefore believes that the future of the European Union should be as an Association of Sovereign Democratic States without a military dimension.

by Roger Cole, Peace & Neutrality Alliance

The Irish political elite seek to abolish an independent Irish foreign policy, destroy Irish Neutrality and pursue their security through the transformation of the European Union into a nuclear armed European superstate - a new Imperial Empire, allied and subservient to the US, although certain of the more right wing elements in the US fear it will not be subservient enough. The Irish elite seek to effectively terminate Irish Army participation as a peacekeeping force in the United Nations and transform it into a regiment of the embryonic European Army, the Rapid Reaction Force.


The results of the referendums prior to Nice on the efforts of the elite to win shows that an increasing number of the Irish people are deciding to defeat them. The numbers voting against the steady transformation of the Common Market of the 1970's in successive referendums into an empire has continuously increased. Over 38% of the Irish people voted against the Amsterdam Treaty. An MRBI poll in 1999 showed that 58% of the Irish people were against the creation of a European Army. PANA therefore believed we could oppose and defeat the Nice Treaty.

We were also be inspired by the defeat of the Danish elite by the Danish people on their recent referendum, for while joining the Euro was the reason for their referendum, the debate centred on the issue of Danish Democracy versus the European Empire.

The Treaty of Nice provided an opportunity for those Irish people who support Irish Democracy, National Independence and Neutrality to win.

The fear of defeat by the Irish elite was clearly exposed by their refusal to hold a referendum on Irish membership of Nato's PfP (a sort of FAS training course for Nato membership). Despite the fact that Mr Ahern had told the Dail that it would be "fundamentally undemocratic" to join without a referendum, we joined without one.


The elite's virtually secret negotiations on the Treaty of Nice was concluded in December 2000. The Irish government initially said that there should not have to be a referendum , but legal advice forced them to do so. The Supreme Court Crotty judgement said the Irish people, not the elite were sovereign, and power could not be transferred to Brussels without their consent, therefore there had to be another referendum.

The Treaty of Nice was to ensure that the Irish Government would retain the right to appoint a Commissioner for a period of time, but after a few years the Irish will have to share the job on a rotation basis, so for substantial periods there will be no Irish Commissioner. The elite will claim the fact that Ireland still has the right to appoint a Commissioner even for a period of time is a great victory, Yet, once appointed an Irish Commissioner swears loyalty to the European Empire. . The Treaty would have ensured that more power is transferred from the Irish people and their elected assembly, Dail Eireann, to the Council of Ministers through a massive reduction in the number of issues where the national veto can be applied.

At the same time greater power is given to larger states like France and Germany as they will be given more votes and the issues on which majority votes are taken are increased.

In short, The Treaty of Nice will would have meant a further diminution of Irish National Democracy, and a further step towards the formation of the Empire under the dominance of French and German political elites. However for PANA, the main issue was that the Nice Treaty was to further consolidate the growth of the militarisation of the EU by the institutionalisation of the command structures of European Army/Rapid Reaction Force established by the previous Amsterdam Treaty.


The elite deliberately held that referendum on the same day as that of the Good Friday Agreement which meant that the media gave it very little attention compared to the Agreement, so that there was very little coverage of the issues involved.

Article J3 of the Amsterdam Treaty states;

" The European Council shall define the principles of and the General guidelines for the common foreign and security policy, including for matters with defence implications."

Article J7 states, " The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions relating to the Union, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, in accordance with the second sub paragraph( the merger of the nuclear armed WEU into the EU) which might lead to a common defence should the European Council so decide."


The movement in favour of Danish National Democracy is more powerful that in Ireland, and their Government was forced to ensure a Protocol be added to the Amsterdam Treaty which stated,

" With regard to measures adopted by the Council in the field of Articles J.3(1) and J7 of the Treaty of the European Union, Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and the implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of closer cooperation between member states in this area. Therefore Denmark shall not participate in their adoption. Denmark shall not contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arising from such measures."

PANA demanded a no vote to the Amsterdam Treaty and it's renegotiation so that the Irish State obtained a similar Protocol. PANA again demanded a no vote to the Nice Treaty if a similar Protocol was not added to it, to exclude Ireland from the militarisation of the EU.


Article J.7.2 states;

" Questions referred to in this article shall include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking."

PANA during the 'debate' on the Amsterdam Treaty said this meant giving the right of the EU to become involved in war, and the elite totally denied it and called us "extremists and isolationists." Yet after the debate one of their members, John Bruton, then Leader of Fine Gael, said in the Dail on the 22/10/99;

"Peacemaking means imposing, by the use of force, peaceful conditions under the terms laid down by the peacemaker. It is very difficult to distinguish that from war making, unless one gets into subjective questions of motivation which are highly elastic."

It is a reflection of the contempt for the people held by the political elite that they only admitted the real implications of the Amsterdam Treaty after the debate, and PANA was convinced they would adopt the same attitude to the Treaty of Nice.


The Treaty of Nice constitutes a set of amendments to the already existing Treaties on the European Union. Article 1.5 of the Treaty of Nice states that the Political and Security Committee referred to earlier is charged, under an amendment to Article 25 of the Treaty on the European Union, with advising on, and monitoring the implement ion of, agreed defence and security policies: this Committee, "shall exercise, under the responsibility of the Council, political control and strategic direction of crisis management operation." The Irish Governments White Paper on the Treaty of Nice emphasised the originality of this development: " A new standing Political and Security Committee will be established." This part of the Nice Treaty would have meant a major consolidation of the militarisation of the EU.

Article 1.2 deletes most references to the Western European Union. Most of the assets of the WEU were to be transferred to the EU, which would directly take on the military aspects of co-ordination, especially through the Political and Security Committee. For the first time, the EU could be directly involved in a war.


By 2005 according to the NATO Secretary general, the

"inadvisability of the transatlantic (US-EU) link ... will have been carved in stone .. By 2005 NATO and the EU will enjoy a close and confident relationship at all levels. both formal and informal exchanges between the secretariats and the military authorities will be a matter of routine. Joint meetings will be held, and senior officials of our respective organisations will brief each other on a regular basis.' Brussels 29/3/2000

The appointment which clearly showed the direction intended was that of former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to the position of EU CFSP High Representative, At the Feira Summit in June 2000 the leaders agreed to improve "consultation, co-operation and transparency" between the EU and NATO. The NATO Secretary General should attend EU meetings; tend the Chair of the NATO Military Committee should attend meetings of the EU Military Committee. These links will ensure US domination of the EU. NATO assets will not be used by the European Rapid Reaction Force without NATO's permission.

The decision of the Irish elite to join NATO's PfP described by Mr Ahern while in opposition as giving a "clear signal" that Ireland would in time join Nato. The Irish elite intend therefore to destroy Irish Neutrality and join the nuclear armed military alliance itself.


As a consequence of the Amsterdam Treaty the European Union has already agreed to establish a European Army known as the Rapid Reaction Force. The Army will have a strength of approximately 250,000 which will be needed to place 60,000 soldiers into the field of conflict. This Army will be given the right to operate at least within a radius of 2,500 miles outside the EU, ie, as far as Afghanistan, although military plans have already been created to suggest its involvement in parts of the world well outside that. While nominally it is believed it will operate only with a UN mandate, as we have seen from the NATO war against Yugoslavia, the UN mandate will be ignored. There is nothing in the Nice Treaty which would mean a UN mandate would be absolutely necessary anyway.

The Nato war against Yugoslavia was endorsed by all the EU states including Ireland, and it did not have a UN mandate. This European Army will be used wherever the EU elite wants to use it to defend the "interests" of the elite, and President of France made that position clear at the signing of the Nice Treaty. When they are used in the future, for example, to protect EU interests in the Caspian Sea, against people in the region who might seek to use the resource more equitably, then the local people are unlikely to distinguish between the "neutral" Irish Regiment of the Army of the European Empire and the other regiments any more than they did when the Connaught Rangers played the same role defending the 'interests" of the British Union & Empire.


PANA consistently argued during the 'debates' on the Amsterdam Treaty and Irish membership of NATO's PfP that Irish neutrality and Independence was being destroyed 'salami' style. The logic of which would be that the long and honourable tradition of Irish Army participation as a peacekeeping force directly under the auspices of the United Nations would effectively be terminated as the Irish Army became integrated into the EU/NATO military structures. Even Lieut. General Gerry McMahon(rtd) , chief-of-staff of the Defence Forces from Feb. '95 to Aug.'98. a long time supporter of this integration process has declared that the policy of the elite is a "desertion of the United Nations".

In 1999 the Government signed up to the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS) in which it promised to provide up to 850 troops for UN Peacekeeping at any time. Yet the White Paper on Defence stated that this was,"an expression of policy and not a binding commitment."

In May 2001 the Irish UN Peacekeeping force in the Lebanon, our only major commitment to UN was terminated. Given the limited size of the Irish Army, the elite have had to make a choice. Serve in the United Nations as a Peacekeeping Force or serve as a Regiment in the European Army (RRF). They have made it. They have, apert from a small nominal involvement, rejected Ireland's peacekeeping role in the only global inclusive organisation committed to securing peace through international co-operation and collective security, the UN.


PANA strongly welcomed the success of the Irish Government and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs in achieving a position on the Security Council. It is exactly the kind of focus advocated by PANA. We need to have an Independent Foreign Policy advocated in a global framework. Yet if Ireland is to agree to a Common Foreign and Defence Policy with the other states in the European Union how can it have an independent foreign policy? What difference does it make whether Ireland or Italy sits on the Security Council? There are a number of possible explanations. Firstly, a significant element of the elite secretly agree with PANA and by ensuring that Ireland is on the Security Council, will expose the contradiction between an IIFP and the CFSP. Secondly, and much more likely, Ireland will simply vote for the CFSP on the Security Council, getting the perks instead of the Italians, while maintaining the illusion of Irish Independence in order to weaken the political forces, such as PANA, that genuinely support Irish Neutrality and an Independent Irish Foreign Policy.

We can only hope that the first option is at least a vague possibility, and a degree of support for it is validated by the New Agenda Coalition initiative. The fact that Ireland topped the poll in elections to the UN Security Council is a reflection of the anti-colonial and anti-imperial tradition in Ireland and the elite that wants to destroy our national Independence and the New Agenda Coalition offers a better indication of Ireland's future role in international politics.

The New Agenda Coalition

The New Agenda coalition brought together seven Governments, Ireland,Brazil,Mexico, New Zealand,South Africa,Slovenia and Sweden which agreed to work for a new agenda to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. At the year 2000 NPT Review conference the state parties to the NPT accepted a new agenda for that objective. It has been a great achievement by the Irish Government. Yet as Patrick Smyth, the then European Correspondent of the Irish Times pointed out, "it would not have happened within the context of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy". It is the most effective example of an Independent Irish Foreign Policy, where Ireland launched a global initiative with six other states, four of which were not, nor likely to become, member states of the European Union. It clearly exposes the fundamental contraction between the two goals, Irish Independence or European Empire. It is an indication of the rejection of an independent foreign policy that this initiative has been virtually forgotten. PANA is now advocating it's own initiative to further expose the contradiction by advocating a Neutrality Amendment Constitutional Bill.


The Irish Constitution, unlike, for example, that of Malta, does not enshrine Neutrality into the Constitution, the reason being that at the time of it's adoption, there was overwhelming political support for it among the Irish people. When the 2nd World War broke, the entire Dail, with only one exception, voted to support the policy of Irish Neutrality. Indeed, the political elite still declares it supports the policy, yet, through their advocacy of the Amsterdam Treaty, their support for Irish membership of Nato's PfP, they in fact seek to destroy it. PANA, in order to further publicly expose their real policy has sought support for a Neutrality Amendment to the Constitution which would amend Article 29.2 which reads; " Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination." by adding, " To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non membership of military alliances."

PANA not only believes the vast majority of the Irish people still support Irish neutrality, indeed an MRBI poll in June 2001 showed 72% supported it, but unlike the elite we believe it does not have its origins in the 2nd World War, but is deeply rooted in the struggle for National Independence.


Irish Neutrality was advocated by Wolfe Tone, Leader of the United Irishmen in a potential war between Britain and Spain in the 18th century. The United Irishmen in the 1790's sought to establish a United, Independent and Sovereign Irish Republic. They were part of an international democratic Revolution against Monarchy and privilege. They did so with the inclusive slogan of seeking to, "Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter in the common name of Irishmen."

They were ruthlessly crushed by British Imperialism and their Irish allies. The commitment to Irish neutrality and independence was maintained in the 19th century by the Young Irelanders and the Irish Republican Brotherhood who in the early 20th century led the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. The Treaty which established the State and the subsequent steps ensured our right to Neutrality and Independence. This Independence was expressed through our support for International organisations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, initiating the Non-Proliferation Treaty and playing a key role in UN Peacekeeping.

Yet those Irish that supported Imperialism while defeated did not go away. The tradition of Redmond and Lord Kitchener is now being revived. Instead of being "British" we are all "European". When once seeking Home Rule within the British Union, the elite now seek Home Rule within the European Union. They seek to do so because they now can identify with the rich elites from the United States and European States which seek to ensure the maintenance of a world economic order that has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The function of the NATO/EU military Force into which our Army ( that was founded to establish and defend an Independent Democratic Republic) is now being integrated is to defend the wealthy, defend their privileges. The "war against terrorism" is in reality a war of the rich against the poor. The decision of social democracy as they did in the 1914-18 War to throw their support behind the rich means the poor will turn this time to fundamentalism Islam and other fundamentalisms as what happened in Cambodia when Pol Pot came to power.


The Tribunals have shown that the real electorate for the Irish political elite is those business interests that pay them vast amounts of money. Their loyalty is to the international political elite that are paid by international business community. In that sense the elite are internationalist.

PANA's Internationalism is if a different nature. We are building links internationally with those groups and organisations that seek peace by achieving social justice and a more egalitarian world economic order. We seek to build an alliance not only in Ireland or Europe, but globally with all those groups that see an inclusive and Transformed United Nations which will according to the UN Charter, maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights, and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations.

The Choice is between the internationalism of the rich or the internationalism of the poor, the internationalism of privilege or the internationalism of democracy, the internationalism of the arms traders or the internationalism the peace movements. The Choice is between a Transformed and renewed United Nations or a European Superstate/NATO, between National Democracy or European Elitism. The Irish elite have already made their decision, we asked the Irish people to make that choice when voting on the Nice Treaty.

National Forum on Europe

The Irish people voted NO to Nice. It is now legally dead. Any effort to put the same Treaty to the people will be defeated by even a greater no vote. Since the vote the Government has established a National Forum on Europe and PANA is one of the organisations entitled to participate in was is called the Observer Pillar. Its title suggests the passive nature expected of us. Despite the defeat of the elite they will seek to dominate the Forum, as they will provide the vast majority of its members. PANA in principle will always talk to everybody so therefore we take part without any great expectations.

Yet, during our opposition to Nice the issue of the destruction of neutrality and the growth of militarisation was abstract.. Now there is a real war, the war on "terrorism" and as our elite has given over our airports and airspace to Nato, Ireland is no longer neutral, Ireland is at war. Ireland is at war without end. PANA is therefore closely co-operating with other groups opposed to the war, and our opposition to Nice has been more than vindicated. If the elite seek to ask the people to vote again on the Nice Treaty even more people will vote against it.

PANA seeks a new Treaty which will include a Protocol to exclude us from the new army of the rich, the European Rapid Reaction Force. We will accept nothing less.

Membership of The Peace & Neutrality Alliance is open to all individuals and groups that accept its objectives; 1. It is within the OSCE and a reformed United Nations, and not the EU, that Ireland should pursue its security concerns. 2. Ireland should pursue a positive neutrality and independent foreign policy and not join or form an association with any military alliances, such as the WEU or NATO. 3. Ireland should seek to promote European and International security through a policy of disarmament and demilitarisation and should therefore oppose the militarisation of the EU. 4. Ireland should refuse to cooperate with or condone in any way policies or military groupings which maintain nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction. 5. Irish troops should only serve abroad as peace keepers under the auspices of the UN.

PANA is the major broad based group to which a large number of political parties, ngo's and individuals are affiliated.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT 113 Springhill Ave. Blackrock, Co Dublin, Ireland Tel. 01-2806878, 01-2808247, 01-2844765, 01-2894315, 01-2806700 mobile, 087-2611597 E-mail; silchester@eircom.net

Donations should be sent directly the address above or to; The Peace & Neutrality Alliance Account number 21106511 National Irish Bank Georges Street Dun Laoghaire Co. Dublin Ireland

"We must face the difficult task of moving towards a single economy, a single political entity....... for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire we have the opportunity to unite Europe." EU Commission President Romano Prodi's speech to the EU Parliament 13/10/99

" When I was talking about a European Army, I was not joking. If you do not want to call it a European Army, don't call it a European Army. You can call it 'Margaret', you can call it 'Mary-Anne', you can find any name; but it is a joint effort for peace-keeping missions - the first time you have a joint, not bilateral, effort at European level." EU Commission President Romano Prodi, The Independent, 4/2/00

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