Limerick, Defence And Foreign Affairs: Sheila Cahill

Limerick’s Green Party candidate, Sheila Cahill, is the next to respond to my letter. Here’s what she had to say. As before, my original letter in bold, my commentary in italics.

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What is your opinion of the present state of the Irish Defence Forces? It’s reduced budget and size, its promotion freeze, and limited participation in missions abroad?

The answer you probably want to hear is that the current budget is not enough. Given the horrendous state of the national finances I think we need to get away from telling voters what they want to hear, and accept the fact that all parties agree we need cuts in expenditure to get the national finances on track and to have enough money to help the economy grow again.

See what I thought was coming here was some brutal honesty regarding her opinions. This would the kind of thing that I would disagree with, and would make me vote against her, but I would at least respect her honesty (for what that was worth). That’s not quite what happened though.

I think we need creative solutions to ensure that we get the best value for money out of our defence budget, and although I recognise the improvement in procurement practices over the last few years I think more can be done in this area. The Green Party have a commitment to an active role for our Defence Forces and we would like to see the great contribution made to UN peacekeeping efforts continue.

Would that include the continuation of trade deals with Israel, something the Green Party seems to dislike? But, the Green Party has a commitment to the PDF, and that’s good to read.

Do you believe, as many do, that the Irish Defence Forces are surplus to the requirements of the modern Irish state?

No I don’t. But I think we need to keep having the debate about the Defence Forces’ role in our nation.

This is an answer I roll my eyes at. It is not terribly difficult to read between the lines here. For all her words at the start, she won’t tell me what I don’t want to hear. The debate about their role in our nation? You mean the debate of further cutbacks, reduced numbers? Please Mrs Cahill. Don’t tell me the Green Party has a commitment to the Defence Forces, then throw this at me.

What is your opinion of Ireland’s current neutrality laws and the “triple-lock” system?

I think we need the triple-lock enshrined in our constitution. Arguments for dropping the UN mandate portion of the triple-lock, as advocated by Fine Gael, would undermine the authority of the UN Security Council, for one. We need to support reform of the Security Council, not abandon it.

But does the UN Security Council’s power over our armed forces not undermine the authority of our country and our elected leaders? And what kind of reform?

Do you have any specific foreign diplomatic initiatives or schemes in mind for the coming Dail term?

As outlined in our manifesto, the Green Party is committed to delivering on our overseas development aid target of 0.7% of GNP and will seek to ensure that aid assists in developing democratic structures as well as addressing basic human needs.

That isn’t quite what I meant for the question, I was aware that Ireland would be continuing its development aid (In fact, has any party advocated reducing that?). Still, it’s an admirable commitment to make, though I suppose I had automatically assumed that our aid was used for “developing democratic structures”.

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Anyway, that was her response and thanks to Sheila Cahill.

As an aside, I have no contact details for either Matt Larkin or Denis Riordan, the last of the Limerick City candidates, so I can’t send my question to them. Oh well.

This entry was posted in General Election 2011, Ireland, Irish Defence Forces, Limerick, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Limerick, Defence And Foreign Affairs: Sheila Cahill

  1. Pingback: NFBs General Election Index | Never Felt Better

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