Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ruled out sending any Irish weapons to Ukraine, despite pleas from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the US Congress this morning for more help.
Mr Martin said he believes the Irish people wants the Government to do “everything we can” to support Ukraine, but asked if this could include supplying anti-tank weapons held by the Defence Forces, the Taoiseach said that there would be no change to the current policy of sending only non-lethal aid. However, he reiterated his call for a discussion on neutrality to be held after the war in Ukraine ends.
“Ireland is not a military power. Let’s call a spade a spade,” Mr Martin said. “Our greatest strength is in the humanitarian side, our greatest strength is in the peacekeeping side, that’s what we do well.”
Mr Martin said Ireland’s neutrality had not prevented the EU from supplying arms to Ukraine.
“I believe we have to act in accordance with our current policies, and it’s important we maintain consensus in Irish society at the moment,” he said. “And it’s by no means clear that we should end our military neutrality right now and nor do I think it would be correct to do it in the middle of this crisis.
“I think the broader issue of military neutrality does need reflection – I’d be straight up about that. As someone who’s been a supporter of that, but I think the world is changing,” Mr Martin said.
“This is a war against democracy – and I think we have to have this conversation.
“We’re not politically neutral and we’re not morally neutral. And as the world changes, our position has to evolve, in my view.”
Mr Martin was speaking on the second day of his trip to the United States for St Patrick’s Day. Wednesday’s agenda is dominated by economic issues and the Taoiseach is meeting several business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, before the annual Ireland Funds dinner tonight, which is also due to be attended by US President Joe Biden.