Reply to UK Article ‘Closing the Back Door’

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For decades past the IDA succeeded in attracting an abundance of continuous FDI to Ireland. This conveyor belt of investment is an essential cornerstone of our economy. Any perceived negative sentiment, or lack of perceived stability in Ireland, from whatever source, would-be a disrupter and disincentive to its smooth continuation.

The world’s largest Tech, IT, and Pharma companies have a presence in Ireland. The world order is less predictable and unstable from when our FDI bonanza began some five decades ago. Unimaginable war in Europe, continuing internecine conflict in the Middle East and Red Sea regions make business investment decision makers nervous. Potential hybrid disruptors are everywhere, including in our neighbourhood.

Our country lacks a commitment to national sovereignty which requires providing a credible security umbrella on land, sea and air. I support our policy of neutrality; I do not advocate our joining NATO. Ireland must become, for the first time since 1922, become an honest, honourable and militarily resourced military neutral. Let us be a proper neutral like Austria, Switzerland, and former neutrals Finland and Sweden.

Ireland does not play a responsible part in the solidarity defence of its corner of Europe. Our geography controls the western air and sea approaches to Europe. The old nonsense of our geography protecting our neutrality is false. It always was false. Ireland has yet to produce its first ever National Security Strategy most recently promised, again, in 2019. For a supposed developed democracy this is flabbergasting.

It’s two years since the Commission on the Defence Forces reported. In 24 months, no tangible improvement or change in Defence Forces operational outputs has been achieved. The strength of all three services has dwindled to a shameful 7,550 at 31st December last, 2,000 below the current allowed strength of 9,500. So much for the Commission’s lofty ambition of an allowed strength of 11,800. Don’t hold your breath.

I would ask that you read the attached report ‘Closing the Back Door’ for a flavour of how we are seen, albeit from a UK perspective. Perhaps, park any negative judgement based on the source of the document, or possible annoyance at perceived ‘colonial language’ used. The issues raised are irrefutable. That view from the UK is shared across the entire continent of Europe, and the western world.

Security as understood and practiced in functioning democracies evades us. Our political leaders see no issue with a Canadian citizen overseeing Irish national security. Would an Irish citizen ever be tasked with overseeing Canadian security policy? Would a Belgian or Dutch national every be tasked with leading the UK’s MI5 or MI6? The answer to all of the above is a resounding NO. Have our political leaders, and their mandarin and non-mandarin advisors, ever heard of the Third-Party Rule in the world of intelligence. If you haven’t, can I suggest you google it!


#security #defence


Senator Gerard Craughwell
+ posts

Independent Senator & member of the Labour Vocational Panel of Seanad Éireann.


I was born in Galway in 1953 and am one of eleven children.  I am married to Helen, and I have two children David and Rebecca and one grandchild Ellie. I started work at the age of 16 as a bar man in London but was always drawn to a military life and a few months after starting work in London I joined the Kings Division Depot of the Royal Irish Rangers as a boy soldier. The training was tough but by the time I   was 17 I   was a first class signals operator, the youngest Lance Corporal in the regiment and  had completed my   first instructors course. Life was good.

I  stayed in the British Army until 1974 when I   was forced to make a choice between the British Army and a return to Ireland and I  choose the latter. I  was fortunate to be able to join the Irish Army and having survived the ordeal of recruit basic training for the second time and this time as Gaeilge,  I   was soon transferred to the Non Commissioned Officers training school for  the Western Command where I   was appointed as Corporal and later Sergeant and a instructor in the training school.

In 1980 an opportunity came to allow me   to leave the army and take over a contract my   father had with Calor Gas. Three  days after I   finished with the army,  Calor Gas took a decision to dispense with external contractors.  I   was out of the army and had no contract.  I  formed a Limited Company GAS Ltd (Galway Appliance Services Ltd) and very soon secured a contract with Flo Gas.  The business grew rapidly we moved from domestic work into industrial work. Despite working every hour God sent me the Company failed and in 1983 it went into Liquidation.  This was a very tough time for our family as we lost our home and everything we had.

Encouraged by my wife Helen I looked for work everywhere and got a job as a Part-time Driver with Underfoot Distributors Ltd Athlone, Co. Westmeath.  The work was hard and the hours long but I was grateful to be able to provide for my family again. As luck would have it I  was blessed to  get a good job with Aughinish Alumina Ltd in 1986. The company paid for our re-location to Limerick where we began a whole new life. In 1990 as a result of a serious back injury my career with Aughinish came to an end.  I was 37 and without qualifications. Once again fate intervened and an ad in the The Limerick Post’  offering a BSc in Economics jumped off the page at me.  My early days at Limerick Senior College  were among the most stressful days of my life, but unlike my earlier educational experiences,  LSC was not like school.  I will never forget the kindness and professionalism of those who taught there.

Despite  many pressures  I succeeded in my course  and  one of the proudest days of my life was my graduation from the London School of Economics in  the Barbican Centre London.  Following my graduation I was given 11 hours teaching at LSC  while undertaking a Post Graduate Diploma in Computing at the University of Limerick.  In 1995 having qualified with a Graduate Diploma in Computing I started work at the Senior College Dun Laoghaire and my family made another move, this time to Dublin.

From the moment I arrived at SCD I was aware of the “can-do” ethos just like I had experienced  at LSC.  However now the shoe was on the other foot and I was the one at the blackboard.  The level of collegiately I experienced at SCD was incredible. I became an  Assistant Principal in the school and an active member of the Teachers Union of Ireland  where I was   Chairman of the Further education Committee for the TUI Executive Committee and a Board Member of the TUI Credit Union.  I was the sole Irish Committee Member of the Information Technology Certifying Organisation CompTIA. In 2012 I was thrilled to become  the President of the TUI a post I held until 2014.


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