Ireland needs to have ‘fundamental rethink’ over security: Coveney

Mr Coveney also said that there was “no target” on how many Ukrainian refugees would be supported to come to Ireland.
Ireland needs to have ‘fundamental rethink’ over security: Coveney

Mr Coveney added: “Ireland is a militarily neutral country but the Irish people are neither ethically, morally or politically neutral. We stand unambiguously and unapologetically with Ukraine at this time. Photo: RollingNews.ie

IRELAND needs a “fundamental rethink” of its approach to security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney has said.

In an address to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Mr Coveney said the world had changed and the crisis was a “watershed moment” for the EU.

Mr Coveney also said that there was “no target” on how many Ukrainian refugees would be supported to come to Ireland.

He said that Ireland should not rush to an answer in deciding on any changes to its position of military neutrality.

He added: “I think it is important not to fundamentally change direction in terms of foreign policy and defence policy overnight.

“But I certainly think that what we are experiencing today in Europe does need to result in quite a fundamental rethink of Ireland’s approach to its own security and how we contribute to the collective security of the European Union.”

Mr Coveney added: “Ireland is a militarily neutral country but the Irish people are neither ethically, morally or politically neutral. We stand unambiguously and unapologetically with Ukraine at this time.

“The world has changed. This is a historic moment and, in many ways, a historic test. It is a moment of principle that defends everyone’s right to define their own future and to live without threat. It is a moment of law, the rules-based international order in which Ireland’s foreign policy is based and enshrined.”

He continued: “Many thousands of Ukrainians who are forced to leave their homes may arrive in Ireland. We welcome the adoption by the EU to activate the temporary protection directive and we will play our part in supporting its implementation.

“There is no target on how many people we will support.

“We are committed to doing the right thing and responding with speed to what is a growing and enormous humanitarian crisis. They are welcome here and that is a message that we want to be very clear on.

“I am confident that families across Ireland, alongside the state’s efforts, will open their homes to Ukrainians.”

A Ukrainian serviceman aims towards Russian positions outside the city of Brovary, east of Kyiv, on March 9, 2022. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman aims towards Russian positions outside the city of Brovary, east of Kyiv, on March 9, 2022. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Coveney said the EU had never acted with “such urgency or resolve” as it had in its response to the Ukrainian war.

He added: “In these most testing of times I think we are showing our best selves.

“While we regret that the UK is no longer with us on our shared European journey, they too are today showing their best selves. Today the EU and the UK are fully aligned against Russia’s aggression and the protection of European values.

“I hope that spirit of partnership will now also be the path to find an agreed approach to the protocol in Northern Ireland and I urge the UK Government to respond to the EU’s focus on finding durable, practical solutions to the issues of concern to the people of Northern Ireland.

“Our overriding ambition here is to preserve lasting peace, stability and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

“What we are seeing in Ukraine reminds us of just how precious that peace is.” Mr Coveney said sanctions introduced by the EU against Russia were a “watershed moment”.

He added: “They demonstrate the EU’s credibility as a political actor with economic weight which can bring significant pressure to bear in a crisis.

“We must decide how to position ourselves through our second century of independence to ensure security at home as well as contributing to security abroad.”

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