Two Fact Sheets from PANA

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) was founded in 1996 to advocate the right of the Irish people to have their own independent foreign policy with positive neutrality as its key component, pursued through the United Nations. 

Set out below are two fact sheets on PANA's two core issues, opposing Irish participation in an EU army and the use of Shannon Airport by the US (or any other) army in breach of the Hague Convention. Neutral states cannot allow their territory to be used by other states as a transit point for their armed forces to or from wars.


The Road to the EU Army

“We need a true European Army to protect the continent - with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

President Emmanuel Macron, Agence France-Presse, 7/11/2018

“There should be a true, real European Army” and “Called for qualified majority voting to replace unanimity on defence initiatives.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Politico, 14/11/18

“The CIA provided 53% of the finance for the European Movements in 1958.”

Daily Telegraph, 27/4/2017

The road to the creation of a European Union with its own army has its roots in the Cold War and has long been supported by the US and its NATO allies. This Factsheet outlines the major steps towards its formation and its links with NATO.

May 1945
The unconditional surrender of the German Nazi European Empire to the Allies, {the USA, USSR & the British Empire} and the start of the Cold War.

September 1948 
Establishment of the Western Union, which includes a common defence clause by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the UK, later the Western European Union in 1954. 

April 1949 Foundation of NATO by the US and 11 European States with its common defence clause Article 5 and its commitment to first use of nuclear weapons. Greece & Turkey joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955, (leading to the formation of the USSR-dominated Warsaw Pact), Spain 1982.

The purported reasons for NATO’s formation was to deter an invasion by the USSR; prevent the rise of nationalist militarism; and encourage European political integration (NATO website).

May 1950
France proposed to pool French and West German coal and steel resources. May 9 now marks ‘Europe Day’.

June 1952 
Belgium, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg & the Netherlands establish the European Coal & Steel Community.

January 1958
The six countries establish the EEC with the clause ‘Ever Closer Union’.

January 1963
France vetoes UK membership of the EEC. The US had objected to Ireland’s membership because it was not in NATO when it was also considering joining the EEC.

January 1966
EEC agrees unanimity rule where vital national interests are at stake.

June 1966
France leaves the military structures of NATO because of the concerns over US domination and all foreign troops leave France.

January 1973
Denmark, Ireland and the UK formally join the EEC. The Norwegian people had, via a referendum, rejected a proposal to join. In the referendum on EEC membership held in 1972 the result was: Yes - 83%, No 17%. The Irish Government White Paper had said Irish Neutrality had not been affected.

July 1987
Single European Act comes into force mentioning a joint European Foreign Policy. In Ireland the Irish Supreme Court, in the Crotty Judgement, ruled that as power over Irish Foreign Policy was being transferred away from the Irish people, from whom all power derives (Article 6 of the Irish Constitution) there had to be a referendum. Ireland becomes unique in the EU, in that every time power is transferred from the Irish people to the EU there is a legal obligation to hold a referendum. Result of the referendum on ratification of the Single European Act was 70% yes, 30% no.

1988-1991 -
Collapse of the USSR. The disintegration of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact (March 1991) included promises to Russia by the USA that NATO (apart from East Germany which merged with West Germany) would not expand eastward.

The road to the creation of a European Union with its own Army has its roots in the Cold War and has long been supported by the US and its NATO allies. This Factsheet outlines the major steps towards its formation and its links with NATO.

Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro join NATO.

Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic Slovenia, North Macedonia, Cyprus and Malta join the EU.

November 1993
Denmark, by referendum, rejects the Maastricht Treaty and gains a number of legally binding Protocols. One significant protocol was that Denmark was excluded from joining the militarization of the EU before signing it.

December 1996
PANA is founded following a meeting in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire. In every subsequent Treaty debate PANA has campaigned for a similar Protocol to be applied to Ireland. 

April 1997 Irish troops deployed on NATO-led missions in Europe.

March-June 1999
NATO war on Yugoslavia. Kosovo becomes a separate state. Major US/NATO base (Bondsteel) built in Kosovo.

NATO’s Partnership for Peace founded. Ireland joins NATO’s PfP without a promised referendum.
May 1999

Amsterdam Treaty
PANA campaigned against the Amsterdam Treaty seeking to ensure a Protocol similar to that achieved by the Danes, to exclude Ireland from the militarization of the EU. Result 62% yes 38% no. PANA and affiliated groups dominated the No campaign.

2001/2 Nice Treaty I and Nice Treaty II
PANA again campaigns for a No vote on the same basis as Amsterdam and, in the first referendum, won with a 54% versus 46% result. In the second referendum the Nice Treaty was passed 63% to 37%.

February 2003 
Bill to enshrine Neutrality into the Constitution defeated in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael alliance, despite the fact that over 150,000 marched against the Iraq war in Dublin and Belfast.

Shannon Airport. 
The Irish Government destroys the policy of neutrality (as set down in International Law through the 1907 Hague Convention) by allowing over three million US troops land in Ireland to take part in perpetual wars of the US.

July 2004
Ireland joins the newly established European Defense Agency.

EU Battle Groups
Ireland participates in the EU Battle Groups which are heavily armed military formations of 1,500-3,000 troops, operational for six months.

Two Battle Groups can operate at any one time and are able to go to war anywhere in the world with a mere 5-15 days’ notice. Each Battle Group needs nine back-up troops for every one soldier at war which aggregates out to a 50,000 strong EU army.

2001 – 2005
Draft European Constitution
The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was signed in Rome on October 29 2004, following planning which had gone on since December 2001.

However, in May 2005 the French people rejected the treaty by 55% to 45% on a referendum turnout of 69% and, in June, the Dutch people rejected the treaty by 61% to 39% on a turnout of 62%.

Lisbon Treaty
After these referendum defeats the draft EU constitution was withdrawn and repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty was adopted by EU heads of state in December 2007, but now, only in Ireland will the people decide the issue by referendum.

2008 - 2009
Lisbon Treaty Referendum
I & II
In June 2008 the Lisbon Treaty is defeated in the first referendum, 53.4% to 46.6%. 

In October 2009 the Lisbon Treaty is accepted, 67% to 33%, in a second referendum. 

In December 2009 the Lisbon Treaty enters force. 

The Lisbon Treaty: allows groups of EU states to establish Permanent Military Formations via PESCO; agrees Common Defence (war) provisions; creates an EU Foreign/Defence Minister with Foreign/Defence Department. This treaty provides the legal foundations of an EU Army for an EU Empire.

War on Libya
NATO, led by the US/UK/France and with the involvement of fourteen other EU/NATO states plus Sweden, deliberately destroys Libya creating a massive refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere.

War on Syria
The allies and US go to war with Syria, provide military equipment to terrorists, and the EU imposes an economic boycott, leading to another massive wave of refugees.

In 2013 Ireland joins the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali and not the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). In 2018 EUTM was again extended to at least May 2020. The government is now considering sending the elite Army Rangers Corps to Mali.

Further EU Militarisation 
Ireland supports the establishment of Military HQ, signs up to PESCO, the European Defence Fund, and Operation Sophia. MEPs from Fine Gael vote to increase EU-wide military expenditure to 2% of GDP. In Ireland’s case this means an increase from 0.3% to 2% or, in money terms, an increase from €946 m to €3 billion.

From 2021 to 2027 a budget of €13Bn is proposed for EU military funding. There is another so-called ‘Peace Facility’ of €10.5 billion currently in the pipeline to provide weapons to non-EU countries. June 2018. The EU Parliament, including all Fine Gael members, vote 441-182 with 57 abstentions, to ensure that the EU and NATO act in a ‘truly coordinated’ manner. 

November 2018
European Military Intervention Force
Ten states, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK agree to establish an army, outside EU structures, to invade other countries.

Ireland supports the EU/NATO Status of Forces Agreement

The US and many EU states, including the UK, France, Spain and Ireland, in total contravention of international law, recognize Juan Guaido (who never even stood for President) as President of Venezuela. This powerful grouping has also imposed sanctions in preparation for supporting yet another war. The coming war on Venezuela is ensuring the EU becomes a global military force.


US Military Operations and Shannon Airport

“Part of the US military conveyor-belt of death”

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq speaking about Shannon Airport (July 2003)

“The use of Shannon Airport by the US military is directly linked with the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, a region that has been destabilised and devastated beyond recognition by US military activity.”

Mick Wallace TD, Dáil Éireann (October 2014)

“If Shannon was being used by any other group to cause the type of damage that the 2.25 million US troops that have passed through Shannon have caused, then the US would rightly identify it as a target.”

Dr Tom Clonan, Security Analyst, Ennis Court (February 2015) US Military Operations and Shannon Airport

August 1990
At the start of the Gulf War, civilian flights carrying US troops on their way to the Gulf were permitted to land at Shannon. This continued up to the end of February 1991. 

The war was waged by coalition forces from 35 nations, led by the US. It was in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

October 2001
Following the passing of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1368 Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fail) conveyed to the US Secretary of State that normal conditions for overflight and landing of US military aircraft would be waived by Ireland. As a result, US troops were permitted to transit through Shannon on their way to Afghanistan. Resolution 1368 was intended to combat threats to international peace and security in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The US misused it to claim legitimacy for its invasion of Afghanistan.

Despite a High Court ruling in Dubsky vs Government of Ireland that the military operation in Afghanistan could not be considered a war, the claim by President George W. Bush that the mission was “to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime” indicated otherwise. Irish support for unilateral US military action in Afghanistan at that time demonstrated a serious disregard for international institutions.

November 2001
The first protests at the use of Shannon Airport by US planes involved in the war in Afghanistan took place.

December 2002
A briefing document prepared by the security policy section of the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that foreign military aircraft were only permitted to use Irish airspace or landing facilities if they are unarmed and carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and do not engage in intelligence gathering.
This condition has been repeated by every government since.

January 2003
Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen (Fianna Fail) confirmed that Shannon was being used by the US military, and that troops travelling on civilian aircraft are “sometimes accompanied by their personal weapons”. These are military contracted aircraft and as such are technically not classified as
military aircraft.

The Minister also confirmed that US troops were permitted to wear uniforms in the transit areas of Irish airports.

February 2003
Approximately 100,000 people gathered in Dublin on 15th February to oppose the impending US led invasion of Iraq. As with Afghanistan, this further example of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war has been widely criticised as lacking the authority of the UNSC and being in breach of international law.

The use of Shannon Airport as a stopover for US troops was a huge reason for the size of the Dublin march.

March 2003
Dáil Éireann effectively agreed to participate in the US invasion of Iraq by supporting the Government’s decision to maintain what it called “long standing arrangements for the overflight and landing of United States military aircraft”. This was misleading as such overflights and landing facilities were previously granted only on a very limited basis and were never intended for participation in war.

As the Bush administration was preparing to attack Iraq, it was becoming increasingly clear that it was doing so on the basis of flawed allegations against Saddam Hussein. These allegations had been challenged, and in some cases disproved, by the United Nations, European governments and even US
intelligence reports.

The erosion of Irish neutrality is inextricably linked to the daily use of Shannon Airport by the US military for almost two decades. It is effectively a forward operating base used to support their operations in the Middle East, with approximately three million US troops and their weapons, regular US Air Force/Navy cargo planes, and an unknown number of CIA extraordinary rendition flights passing through since 2002.

Two Articles of the Irish Constitution have been repeatedly and consistently undermined through this misuse of a civilian airport. Article 28.3.1 says war shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament). Article 29 affirms the State’s devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality, and its adherence to the principles of the peaceful settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination. Despite this, Shannon has provided direct support for ground offensives and bombing campaigns, and has been complicit in the deaths and displacement of millions of people.

April 2003
A High Court judgement in Horgan vs. An Taoiseach et al. stated that by allowing US troops to use Shannon Airport on their way to and from the war in Iraq, Ireland was in breach of the Hague Convention (V) Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land. 

However, with regard to Article 28 of the Constitution, the ruling stated that the Court could not, without proof of quite exceptional circumstances, accept the contention that it should decide what constitutes participation in a war. 

At its peak there were on average over 6,500 US troops a week plus their weapons passing through the Shannon Airport, as well as contracted cargo planes and other military aircraft.

April 2006
Amnesty International reported that US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition had landed and refuelled at Shannon Airport repeatedly in the previous five years. Extraordinary rendition involved the forcible kidnapping of individuals by the US or its proxies, and their transfer to a secret prison in another State where they were tortured, with no recourse to the courts or to lawyers or to any protection of their human rights.

Two months later a Council of Europe report by Swiss Senator Dick Marty identified Ireland as one of 14 European states that colluded in rendition. The Government insisted that no prisoners passed through Shannon Airport on the rendition flights. The basis for such a claim is highly questionable given the lack of inspection of suspected rendition aircraft at the airport.

No investigation was undertaken by the government at the time, or by any Irish government since. They claimed to have diplomatic assurances from the US administration that Irish airports were not being used by the CIA for rendition flights. Despite a series of written requests from the Irish Human Rights
Commission these assurances were never produced.

July 2006
A group of 5 Catholic Workers known as the Pitstop Ploughshares who made their way into Shannon Airport and damaged a United States Navy C-40 transport aircraft in February 2003 were finally acquitted after 2 mistrials. They were acquitted on the basis that they were acting to save lives and
property in Iraq and Ireland.

January 2008
Local peace and human rights activist group Shannonwatch started monthly vigils at the airport to protest against its use by the US military. These have been running ever since.

September 2009
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin (Fianna Fail) confirmed that US officers of military rank are permanently based at Shannon Airport. Their role is to assist with the transit of US government or government-contracted flights carrying US government officials, civilian and military personnel and cargo through the airport. The arrangement was in operation since 2003 and was done without Oireachtas approval.

March 2010
At the annual presentation of shamrock to the US President by the Taoiseach Brian Cowan on St Patrick’s Day, President Barrack Obama thanked the Irish Government for allowing US troops to stop off at Shannon Airport on their way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan.

August 2012
Seventeen months after presenting two wheelbarrows of information to the Gardai (police), Shannonwatch received a brief half-page response that said “No evidence has been uncovered by the Gardai which indicate [sic] any alleged breach of Irish & International laws resulting from the transit of armed U.S. troops & CIA associated aircraft in connection with wars and military aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and in connection with unlawful detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo prison and elsewhere”.

The dismissal of a large volume of material outlining breaches of the laws of aviation, humanitarianism, human rights and neutrality at Shannon was a disappointing indictment of Irish complicity in US wars of aggression and occupation, particularly in the Middle East.

September 2013
A side-mounted 30mm cannon photographed on a United States Air Force (USAF) AC-130W Hercules turbo-prop aircraft at Shannon on Sept 5 was described by the Fine Gael/Labour government as an “administrative error”. The aircraft was specifically modified to include a precision strike package
for close air support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government continued to claim that US military aircraft landing at Shannon are unarmed and carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and do not engage in intelligence gathering.

Meanwhile a Red C poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) found that 78% of Irish people support a policy of Irish neutrality.

July 2014
TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace were arrested at Shannon Airport after attempting to search two US military planes. In explaining why they took this action, Mick Wallace said because the authorities won’t search the planes to find out if there are weapons on board “people like us have to do it”.

The official count of US troops that passed through Shannon Airport since 2002 exceeded 2.5 million. These troops were all on US military contracted aircraft operated by companies like Omni Air International. They did not include special operations forces on Hercules C-130 and other military transport aircraft passing through Shannon.

January 2017
Shannon (and Dublin) Airport began operating US President Trump’s ban on people from seven Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) entering the US. The ban breached international refugee law, which requires the international community to take in war refugees
on humanitarian grounds. 

US immigration preclearance facilities have been in operation at Dublin and Shannon airports for many years. As a result, Ireland is one of the few countries in the world where passengers travelling to the US can clear immigration at the point of departure rather than when they arrive in the country. On the advice of the Attorney General the government claimed that the Irish authorities had no jurisdiction over the implementation of the policies at US immigration pre-clearance facilities on Irish soil (despite the fact that they breached international law).

March 2019
Two members of Veterans for Peace, Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, were arrested after going onto the airfield at Shannon Airport to demand that the Gardai inspect a US military contracted plane believed to be carrying troops and weapons. After being detained in Limerick Prison for 11 days, their passports were confiscated by the State, forcing them to remain in Ireland without trial for over 8 months.

May 2019
In an exit poll conducted for RTÉ and TG4 during the local and European Parliament elections, 82% of voters polled said Ireland should remain a neutral country in all aspects.

March 2020
US troops transiting through Shannon Airport were directed to remain on board their aircraft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless Omni Air International troop carriers continued to make regular stops at Shannon on their way to and from the US, the Middle East, and European countries including
Bulgaria and Poland. A new coalition government made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party continued to permit the US military to use Shannon Airport.

It is estimated that over 3 million US troops have gone through Shannon Airport since 2002. The exact figure is unknown as figures are only supplied for military contracted flights (technically classified as “civil”). Since these aircraft have the troop’s personal weapons on board, the flights must be given prior permission to land by the Minister for Transport. Permits must also be given for flights carrying weapons through Irish airspace.

The US military account for well over 90% of all flights requesting permits to carry munitions through Irish airspace and airports. In addition to the US troop
carriers using Shannon, aircraft operated directly by the US Air Force and Navy also land there. In 2017 the official figure forUS military aircraft landings at
Shannon was 402 (an average of more than one/day).

 Year/Number of troops through Shannon on military contracted planes/Permits issued for the carriage of munitions of war

2007/263,000/ 1495 
2009 265,000/1276 
2010 229,000/1307 
2011 250,000/1382 
2012 101,108/807 
2013 69,840/693 
2014 55,405/584 
2015 63,549/812 
2016 48,648 813 
2017 60,968/919 
2018 93,852/1054 
2019 86,653/1075  

While it’s not possible to identify the number of deaths linked to troops and equipment that passed through Shannon this century, a November 2019 report by Professors Neta C. Crawford and Catherine Lutz of the Costs of War project estimated the number of direct war deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen post 9/11 as between 770,000 and 801,000. This does not include indirect deaths, such as those caused by loss of access to food and water, war-related disease, displacement, etc. The part played by Shannon Airport in the wars that caused these deaths is in direct contravention of the State’s claims to promote peace, stability and human rights.  

Shannonwatch campaigns to end the US military use of Shannon Airport and to demand accountability for the airport’s complicity in human rights abuse and war. It opposes the participation of Ireland in all regional military alliances and structures, including those of the EU and NATO. It holds peace demonstrations at Shannon Airport on the second Sunday of every month from 2 to 3pm. Contact: Shannonwatch, PO Box 476, Limerick DSU, Dock Road, Limerick, Ireland Tel: (+353) (0)87 8225087 Email Website: 

Peace and Neutrality Alliance
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance campaigns for the right of the Irish people to have their own independent foreign policy, with positive neutrality as a key component, pursued primarily through a reformed United Nations. Contact: PANA, Dalkey Business Centre, 17 Castle Street, Co. Dublin, Ireland, Tel: (+353) (0)1 2351512, Email:, Website:


The British Establishment had a field day on Tuesday. With no legal basis whatever for their decision and not a shred of legislation to back them up (with the possible exception of the reference to the Bill of Rights), they got their revenge on the people who voted for Brexit. PM Johnson prorogued Parliament to keep it off his back for a few weeks (all governments and civil services long for the long summer recesses that keep these people out of their hair for a few months). He should not have done so but he used the British convention-based system (as Ronan McCrea describes it in his piece in the Irish Times yesterday British Parliament must use its restored powers) to pull a political stroke. Therein has always lain the strength and the weakness of the British political system. Not too many laws and other types of rules (e.g. constitutions) to keep lawyers busy and rich but a gentleman's agreement about how things are done. Well, there are very few gentlemen left. 

I have become less and less a fan of constitutions as I've got older, particularly as the number of constitutions of one kind or another has ballooned. We have our own Constitution, the EU has one (to which ours but not, reading between the lines, Germany's is subject). Since the 1960s, vested interests here have used our Constitution to get laws declared unconstitutional that were nothing of the sort, laws that were enacted by the Oireachtas and could only be amended by them. Then there is the European Court of Justice, which is not a court in any meaningful sense but an essential part of the European project. The British Supreme Court, however, has gone one better. They have identified breaches to a constitutional order that doesn't exist. Their decision was blatantly political.

There is also an increasing body of international law, which is used to force through grotesque changes in social policy in areas like abortion.

All Governments pull political strokes and are legally entitled to. The fact that they shouldn't is neither here nor there. Politics is an ugly business and the people who choose politics as a way of life, are, by and large, not the sort of people with whom one would want to be seen. Then again, politicians represent We the People and we are flawed too. The alternative to politics (as in laws made by parliaments or directly by the people but never by the courts) is civil war as the British might find out if they're not careful.

Ronan McCrea's piece (but not the headline, which is not his fault) is fair and balanced. Now that the British courts have plunged headlong into the political process they will pay a price. On way of balancing up their demarche of yesterday, however, would be if someone tested the constitutionality (under a system that doesn't have a constitution!) of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. That Act is much more egregious and damaging to British democracy than Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament, which was a crude political stroke but in no way illegal.

Denis Staunton's piece, Victory for Corbyn but Labour splits on full display in Brighton, Irish Times, 23 September, reminds Tory Brexiters that if they want to get Brexit through this year they will need the help of Jeremy Corbyn. He is deemed the devil incarnate by all Tories but he isn't, and he is a skillful politician to boot. He has held the line for the people's vote (i.e. the referendum of 2016) despite very intense pressure from many of his parliamentary party colleagues, who are about as true to Labour values as Boris Johnson is.

Pat Leahy's piece in yesterday's Irish Times Pressure of no deal scenario eases slightly is also good. He is giving the appearance of being back on side (he must have been put under huge pressure from within the Iveagh House Bulletin aka the Irish Times) but by saying everything is on hold in terms of an Irish/EU concession on the backstop until the UK parliamentary arithmetic changes, he is making clear what every supporter of Brexit knows: the EU will do a deal on the backstop when there is a majority in the House of Commons for Brexit. That, however, will have to await a general election.

Kavanaugh - the revolutionary justice phase of the #MeToo movement has now ended

It is not an exaggeration to say that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh by the United States Senate as a US Supreme Court justice is the equivalent of the defeat for Senator Joseph McCarthy in the McCarthy/US Army hearings (also before a US Senate committee) between April and June 1954. McCarthy was a political opportunist (and, if memory serves, a drunk), who, as everyone knows, exploited the anti-communist mania in the US after WW2. He terrorized people and destroyed lives and careers, including, famously, in Hollywood, and, until the US army stood up to him, got away with disgraceful and outrageous behaviour. Inevitably, someone will always come along and stand up to a bully. You would think that McCarthy would have known better than to take on the US army but he had already, if memory serves, destroyed the career of the US Secretary of State, General Marshall (of Marshall Plan fame). Marshall had been Eisenhower’s boss in WW2 and had helped his career but President Eisenhower didn’t lift a finger to help Marshall when McCarthy went after him. So, McCarthy thought he could do it again but he met his match in the hearings against the army and McCarthyism gradually faded away. It didn’t happen overnight but an ugly period in US history ended effectively after McCarthy lost a row with the US army.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation will, I think, turn out to be an event of similar importance to the McCarthy/Army Hearings. It was inevitable that the #MeToo movement, which is a revolution of sorts and an understandable one, would be accompanied by a period of revolutionary justice (no evidence of sexual misconduct needed). It was equally inevitable that the screaming screamers and the crazies would go too far. (They are now blaming white American women for Kavanaugh's nomination and saying that they should not marry "within the race" to preserve white domination. You couldn't make it up.) And it was inevitable that a major political party (in this case the Democrats, in the 1950s the Republicans) would jump on the bandwagon.

The #MeToo movement will continue, and with considerable justification. Women have the bit between their teeth and are not going to put up in the future with what they had to put up in the past. I don’t have a problem with that but after Saturday's vote an accusation will no longer be the same as evidence. It took a brave man and a savage contest to face down the bullying but from now on more people will. A university lecturer, who, say, gives a student a bad grade and is accused of a sexual assault will be more inclined to stand his ground as will a falsely accused priest and so on.

In time the Democrats will come to realize that kangaroo courts and revolutionary justice are no substitute for justice. Senate committees (and any venue, including universities, the church, business, etc. where these kinds of problems arise) will presumably sit down and look again at the rules they operate for dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct. To start with, the accusation against Kavanaugh should not have been entertained because it was known to the Democrats for weeks before they raised it. They waited until they thought that by raising it at the last minute they would derail the confirmation procedure. That sort of unscrupulous behaviour must be stamped out. Likewise, allegations should not be accepted unless accompanied by prime facie evidence to go with the accusation. An accusation is not evidence. You would think people would know that but at a time of hysteria people are liable to forget basic rules.

I hope Dr Ford, who may now face a difficult time, realizes how she was used by the Democrats and I hope others don’t allow the same thing to happen to them. Politics is, at times, a dirty business. Politicians are capable of behaving in a crude and cruel way and of generating casualties in pursuit of their aims. Ford will probably suffer more than Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the wicked one here. Ford will hopefully realize that asserting her life had been destroyed, when, happily and plainly, it had not been, was never going to fool anyone. She acted badly and unwisely and made a fool of herself. That is what can happen to people who get tangled up with politics and don’t realize how dirty it can get.

There will be a lot of talk in the coming days about the backlash that will be faced by the Republicans in the mid-term elections. The opposite could be the case. A lot of women in the US were beginning to worry about what could happen to their husbands and their sons if the revolutionary justice of the #MeToo movement was not checked. The question being asked by many women in the US was that if a man of Kavanaugh’s eminence could be destroyed for political purposes could the same thing not happen to their husbands and sons? Very few people would be able to muster the support of the President of the United States and the majority party in the US Senate if they were accused of sexual misconduct. They could be (and many have been) crushed. The IT-style narrative is that the US was divided between (wicked) white males and the rest on the Kavanaugh nomination but I don’t believe that. So, we will see whether the confirmation results in the expected heavy defeat for the Republicans in the mid-term elections or if the scandal of the hearings and the behaviour of the Democrats changes things.

I hope Kavanaugh’s first overseas visit as a Supreme Court justice is to Ireland. Maybe an eminent lawyer or an eminent academic here will invite him to address the Bar Council or the L&H in UCD or the Hist in Trinity or some such. The screaming screamers (and the Irish Times) will no doubt demand that Kavanaugh be disinvited. Which might just wake people up to the bullying that is going on here.

Ruadhan MacCormaic’s article in Saturday's Irish Times is interesting and by the IT standards of recent days fairly balanced. He is right to say that the reputation of the US Supreme Court has suffered in recent years, particularly as a result of their decision to hand the Presidency to George W. Bush, the worst US President in our lifetimes and quite possibly ever. MacCormaic says that US Supreme Court judgments are not cited by courts outside the US nowadays. I can’t argue with that as I don’t know if they are or not but if Roe V Wade is re-opened by the US Supreme Court that will echo around the world. Which is why the Irish Times is so angry. They are in fact scared. Just as the rest of the world was beginning to think again about abortion we disgraced ourselves by inserting a right to abortion into the Constitution. The attempt to prevent Kavanaugh reaching the Supreme Court was all about Roe V Wade, and everybody knows that.

More haste less speed might be the right motto for Dublin City Council in future

Bob Geldof handed back his freedom of Dublin in a very ungracious way and the city council could not allow itself to be treated in that way. Although you mightn’t think it because of the way they behave, there is a dignity to government or there is meant to be. A meeting of the Government in Government Buildings is meant to be more formal and dignified than a meeting of the same group of people in a pub. Hence the formality around the event, the formality of the agenda and the preparation of the necessary documents, the building in which it takes place and so on. Form follows function, as they say, but form is also the way in which the seriousness of government is conveyed. It must be careful not to tip over into arrogance and aggrandizement but if the city’s highest honour is rudely thrown back in the city’s face (more or less literally) the city council can’t let it go.
Geldof and Bono would be better off tackling the real evil contributing to poverty and suffering in many parts of the world: the obscene level of spending on arms by the West much of which ends up in the deaths of very large numbers of people (although the “developed world” has recently experienced some blow back). They are, however, very careful not to "go there", as far as I can tell. A reduction of 3% in US defence spending would end world poverty, something that Geldof and Bono could publicize to good effect. I’m not sure, incidentally, that the good people of Ethiopia appreciated being patronized by Geldof and the rock world in 1985. There is another side to that story but I don’t think we ever heard it. 
There is an excessive number of prizes for everything nowadays - literary, film, drama, man of the year, freedom of the city, turnip grower of the year, etc. The Economy of Prestige (2005) by James F. English, one of the most important books on culture published in recent decades, is a study of the impact of prizes on literature. The number, nature and politics of literary prizes (which incidentally keep on growing and keep devaluing existing prizes) are now the key to literary success rather than talent. There are now so many books being published that authors know they must be on a prize list to be able to stand out from the crowd. Not surprisingly, the proliferation of prizes and their importance in determining the success or failure of a book is now influencing what people write and how they write. The prize culture is shifting the balance of power from publishers/editors/the world of literature (the sort of people who should determine what gets published) to (my old profession) bureaucrats, in this case the bureaucrats of the literary world. They might know their way around intrigue (always a useful skill) but might have the artistic sensibility of a sod of turf. I gather that some old hands – like the Nobel people – are very “iffy” about being dragged in to the tsunami that is now the world of prizes and keep their distance from all the prizes hoo haa in an attempt to avoid the devaluation of the Nobel Prize for Literature (which should be awarded three or four times a century – no more).

English’ book is superb but I doubt if you will find it referred to very often in literary magazines, newspapers, etc. It’s the old story: who guards the guardians? How can we curb the rivers of books, most of which didn’t need to come out of anyone’s pen, if the people whose job it is to guard against this – the media, the publishing industry, the public square essentially, have a vested interest in not curbing it?

To finish where I started: while I can understand why Dublin City Council might wish to award its highest honour to someone the Council believes to be of outstanding character, the devaluation of literary prizes is arguably being mirrored by the devaluation of other prizes/awards, including the award of the freedom of the city. Dublin City Council possibly rushed in where others would have waited a little longer only to subsequently find itself with egg on its face. I can't help feeling that there is an element of the city council promoting itself and Ireland's progressive values in making awards of this kind. If the city is progressive (and with its housing problems it is hard to make that case) such gestures are not necessary. If the city is not progressive awarding the freedom of the city won't fool anyone. And, as I say, it can end up with egg on its face. More haste less speed might be the motto for the city council in future.

Current Affairs: Trump and Jerusalem

Trump and Jerusalem

US religious fundamentalism has nothing to do with religion and never has had (although it has a lot to do with values). Most commentators forget (if they ever knew) that the original emigrants to America in the 17th century (who became the bedrock of the US' civic, political and religious culture) were English Puritans and the like. They, likewise, weren’t religious although no doubt they thought they were. They were radicals who wanted political rights to go with the new wealth being created from trade and pre-industrial development in England, which was largely a consequence of the closure of the monasteries in the previous century (which released a lot of capital for economic purposes) and slavery. Puritans and other religious radicals objected to Anglicanism. They wanted, say, their own bishops ostensibly for religious reasons but in fact because they rejected the King’s religious (and therefore) political control over their lives. The language of political radicalism (“one man one vote”) (“universal suffrage”) did, remarkably, exist in the 1640-1660 period of the English revolution (the most interesting period in English history) but only in the most advanced circles. Most people didn’t have access to the political language they wanted or, if they did, knew it would be certain death to use it so they resorted to religious language (the right to their own bishops, say) to make a political point. The King and the establishment knew exactly what they were talking about but, if they didn’t, they found out in the English civil war.

Religious fundamentalists in the US today are the descendants (political and in many cases literal) of the people who left England for America in the 17th century with the emigrants from the north of Ireland, who left in the 18th century, being more of the same. They, like their ancestors, continue to use religious language for political purposes and everyone knows it, including Trump.
Trump is accused of not being a politician but he is enough of a politician to know that by giving the religious fundamentalists something on Jerusalem he will keep them on side for 2020. What religious fundamentalists really believe in (and what the coded religious language they use is all about) is a set of values that include making a lot of money, keeping the US Judaeo-Christian ethos as the fundamental value system of the US [i.e. making sure WASPs continue to control the US] and keeping a certain distance from black America). At its essence, what they are worried about is losing control (political, economic, cultural, religious, etc.) of the country they stole from the native Americans. They won’t say it in plain language (a) because English 17th century political culture largely used religion rather than lay language to express its wishes and (b) because US political correctness rules out any form of plain speaking anyway but everyone knows what they want.

Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is seen as a cynical move by Trump to keep his supporters on side. And it is. What the chattering classes haven’t realized, however (or won’t admit), is that Trump, like all heads of government, is capable of operating on many levels. It suits Trump, for many reasons, to let everyone say it is all about keeping the religious fundamentalists on side but Trump has progressive views on geopolitical issues, which I suspect (certainly hope) he has put aside for the moment. I believe that Trump wants to end perpetual wars for perpetual profits but he needs more time to get the military industrial complex (MIC) on side, including through his tax changes, which could rebuild America’s economic base, which is necessary to continue underpinning its military strength, before he challenges the MIC about their endless wars. Commentators in the past understood these kinds of subtleties in the way government behave but they don’t any longer. 

Trump almost certainly knows that by sending the US Embassy to Jerusalem (which, incidentally, he doesn’t have to do; all he has done is say that he is sending it to Jerusalem) he is killing off the two state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, which means that a new solution must be sought – a one state solution (i.e. like post apartheid S. Africa but hopefully without the corruption). His decision is a potentially progressive one. I suspect Trump knows that but, all all good statesmen, is not saying so, at least not yet. 

From his body language, I suspect Netanyahy is not as comfortable with Trump's decision as he pretends. He must know that it signals the beginning of the end of the (fake) debate about the two state solution, which every  government knows the Israelis have killed off. However, through "cowardice and laziness" (as someone said to me the other day) most governments continue to promote it although they know it id dead in the water.

Channel 4 News acts as a spokesman for Ford

Channel 4 News led last night with a story by Ford that Brexit would cost the company $1bn a year. It might indeed. Their business correspondent, Siobhan Kennedy, demonstrated how Ford cars are partly made in Britain and are then shipped to Germany to be finished after which they come back to Britain as imports. All without any cost to the poor company because of EU membership (tariffs, etc. although they presumably pay for the transport of the half-made cars to Germany and for the transport of the completed vehicles back to the UK), whatever about the cost to the poor British manufacturing base. Kennedy also demonstrated how the components of the cars partly assembled in the UK come from various EU countries. As no doubt they do. All this, Ford says, would be put at risk by Brexit and the poor company would lose money. Did it not occur to Channel 4 News that it is not their job job to worry about a US multi-national company (or to speak for them) or that after Brexit the components might be made in Britain and the car assembled entirely in Britain? It was as stark an example of stakeholder capture as I have ever seen. No attempt to critique what Ford was saying. No comment from an opposing point of view. No attempt to see the plus side from the point of view of British manufacturing. Quite extraordinary.

It was a classic demonstration of the liberal media backing global capital: something that would have been far less likely thirty years ago. Except, of course, today’s “liberal” media are not liberal. They are about as liberal/left of centre as Harvey Weinstein is a genuine supporter of women’s rights. They are supporters of the new global ruling class, which has contempt for states, democracy, people and their rights. However, they continue to be portrayed as liberal.