DUBLIN – Most Irish citizens want to increase military spending, and almost half want to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new poll.
The results of pollsters Red C, released in the Sunday Business Post in Dublin, propose a major shift in public opinion on Ireland’s official policy of neutrality.
It turned out that 48 percent want to join NATO now, versus 39 percent against, a record high for the question. As recently as January, a similar poll found only 34 percent support for joining the transatlantic military alliance.
Ireland’s age-old determination to avoid any military alliance with Britain meant it stayed out of, and even offered, World War II official condolences to Nazi Germany following the news of Adolf Hitler’s death. That studious neutrality has been retested since February, when Russia hosted naval military exercises off Ireland’s Atlantic coast.
The consequence highlighted the inability of the ill-equipped Irish forces to oversee these Russian manoeuvres. The Irish have no military radar or sonar capabilities, no jets capable of long-range surveillance or intercept missions, and too few sailors to operate its fleet of nine ships.
Ireland’s annual defense spending is currently 1.1 billion euros, the lowest in the EU at just 0.2 percent of economic output. A Report commissioned by the Government last month recommended increasing that spending by at least 50 percent, or tripling it in the most aggressive scenario.
Among respondents, 59 percent said they wanted Ireland to “significantly increase” military spending, while 28 percent opposed it.
And 46 per cent said they would “support a referendum for Irish troops to serve in a potential future European army”.
Nonetheless, the survey also revealed confusion about what joining NATO or an EU-organized force could really mean. When asked whether “Ireland should abandon its policy of neutrality,” 57 percent said no.
And just 39 percent said Ireland should send arms to Ukraine. Ireland offers instead Non-lethal Aidincluding ration packs, medical supplies and body armor, as part of EU-wide support for Ukraine’s defence.
The main opposition party, Sinn Féin, traditionally hostile to NATO and sympathetic to Russia, has done so shifted this position in recent weeks. But a smaller group of Ireland’s most staunch left-wing lawmakers still see the current Ukraine crisis as a moment to strengthen, not weaken, Ireland’s neutral stance.
Later this week, Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s lower house of parliament, will debate an invoice seeks to amend Ireland’s 85-year-old constitution to include neutrality. The bill is sponsored by five socialists in the Dáil with 160 seats.
One of its authors, Richard Boyd Barrett, said many citizens were alarmed to see the Irish government “trying to get Ireland closer to the idea of an EU army and NATO”.
“There is no question that Ireland opposes the repulsive and despotic actions of Putin and the Russian regime in Ukraine,” he said. “But military neutrality is important because it means that Ireland should stand up and oppose all forms of imperialism, empire and war, regardless of who instigates it.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/poll-more-irish-want-to-join-nato/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication More Irish want to join NATO after Ukraine invasion - POLITICO