Thursday (March 17th): Martin’s ‘People of Ireland’ response

Name? Micheál Martin

Westphalian identity? Irish

Age? 61

Why is he in the news? Taoiseach Martin (aka Prime Minister Martin) has emphasised that “the humanitarian response trumps anything as far as we [the Irish government] are concerned.” Given that Ireland’s military is neutral and not a part of NATO, Taoiseach Martin’s response to the Ukraine crisis is rather unsurprising. 

Why do we care? What is surprising, however, is that Foreign Minister Coveney said that Ireland was “not neutral” on the Ukrainian issue. Lucky for Martin, due to Ireland’s constitutional principle of neutrality, a referendum would need to be held to change the level of commitment Ireland has for Ukraine. 

Why should you care? Nevertheless, the Taoiseach ensured Ireland was not morally or politically neutral. As such, the country has taken in 5500 Ukrainian refugees thus far, with plans to welcome up to 100,000 refugees. This is largely due to the enactment of the Temporary Protection Directive last week, encouraging refugees to travel to Ireland (EU) rather than the UK. You should care 8/10 not only about refugees receiving a warm welcome but about policies from Brussels working in Dublin. 

Who else cares? US President Joe Biden, a proud Irish Catholic, cares as Prime Minister Martin recently tested positive for Covid19 after attending the Ireland Funds dinner in D.C. As a result, the Taoiseach’s St Patrick’s Day Programme with Biden has been moved online—a disappointing outcome for all of us proud Irish-Americans.

Any further comments? Martin recently met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the lifeline of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The NI protocol has largely been overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis despite being under threat of Johnson invoking Article 16. Martin contrasted Johnson’s reluctance to collaborate with Ireland with the UK’s ability to partner with the EU and the US on ‘fundamental issues of substance,’ underlining that if they can work together on Ukraine, they can work together on NI.


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