Irish security policy : neutrality, non-aligned or 'sui generis'?
In this century the Irish have claimed, at critical moments, that they were neutral and that they have established a policy of traditional neutrality. In the last generation they have also claimed, on occasion, to be nonaligned. These claims are tested by identifying the true nature of neutrality and variables by which a state's claim to be neutral can be assessed, and by identifying the essence of nonalignment. That essence is inapplicable to developed European states. Given that neutrality per se can only apply in time of war, the variables are adjusted to reflect a peacetime policy 'for neutrality' in the event of war. For this purpose the model presented by three European neutral countries is examined and used to generate variables against which to test the Irish claims. The identified variables are: (i) due diligence with respect to neutral rights and duties; (ii) the extent to which Irish claims have been recognised by others; (iii) the disavowal of help by them and; (iv) the extent of their freedom of decision and action. In addition, and partly reflecting the claim to non-alignment, two other variables are used: (v) lack of isolationism, willingness to ameliorate world problems, and impartiality and; (vi) the attitude to identity, nation- building, unity, stability and self-determination. Ireland has consistently failed to meet the criteria associated with either 'of' or 'for' neutrality, whilst its record on variable (v) is mixed. Its concern with variable (vi) has been pervasive, but ineffectual. Nonetheless, Ireland has not been committed to co-belligerency, although neither non-aligned, neutral nor an alliance member. It is in a ‘sui generis' position, particularly, but not only, within the European Community.