Micheál Martin Forum Dame Richardson

Dame Richardson

IF MICHEÁL MARTIN believes that his ambition to secure a Brussels sinecure will be enhanced by his forum on international security then his political judgement is a lot more fallible than some pundits claim. He has managed to screw up what he and his Iveagh house mandarins believed was such a clever initiative and has highlighted – rather than blurred – the notion that the Government is trying to abandon Irish neutrality.

Martin foolishly announced plans in April of last year for a citizens’ assembly to discuss neutrality and security issues, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. Common sense, political advice and a series of opinion polls showing strong attachment to neutrality and Martin realised that a citizens’ assembly would not support his plan. Worse was the impression created when he retreated to the forum idea with ‘experts’ from Nato and other western militarist and spooky entities chosen to advise the Irish how to defend themselves. This underlined the widely held view that the Government feared a citizens’ assembly would not concur with their militarist plans.

Martin’s next error was to choose the ever-so-talented Irish woman, Dame Louise Richardson DBE, to chair his forum. When it turned out that Richardson was more Margaret Thatcher than Countess Markievicz, further negative impressions were formed.

Then, days before the forum was due to commence, Micheál Martin got into a verbal brawl about the forum with People before Profit TDs and was forced to withdraw an insulting remark about them being likely to “put the jackboot” into political opponents.

This made the Tánaiste and foreign minister look foolish but it also highlighted – unnecessarily from his own point of view – the plans for Nato, EU military initiatives and the like.

President Michael D Higgins may or may not have been so emboldened as to denounce the “drift” towards Nato had such a widely reported Dáil spat not taken place, but it certainly set the stage for his speech that lit a bonfire under the forum.

It is most unlikely that ministers expected such a fiery, public debate to take place around the forum, with widespread arguments about war and Irish neutrality, but Martin’s far from deft handling of the issue ensured that this is what happened.

Higgins Vs DRichardson

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