A Postnationalist Approach
Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Carmen Zamorano Llena
Michael Böss Irish neutrality: From nationalism to postnationalism 17
Michael Böss Irish neutrality: From nationalism to postnationalism In order to pave the way for a Yes at the second referendum on the Nice Treaty (scheduled for 19 October 2002), the Irish government succeeded in persuading the EU summit in Seville (21–22 June 2002) to issue a declaration which said that the treaty did not ‘impose any binding mutual defence commitments’, nor did ‘the development of the union’s capacity to conduct humanitarian and crisis management tasks involve the establish- ment of a European army’. For its own part, the Irish government declared that Ireland confirmed ‘that its participation in the European Union’s common foreign and security policy did not prejudice its traditional policy of military neutrality [my emphasis]’ (Seville Declarations: 13, 14). Nevertheless, at the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty six years later, the issue of ‘Irish neutrality’ once more came up in debates and contributed, with a host of other reasons with little or no relevance for the substance of the treaty, to the no-vote of 52.3 per cent.1 It has been common since the 1950s for Irish politicians to describe the Irish policy of neutrality as a ‘tradition’. It was not until the Seville Declaration of 2002, however, that Irish neutrality was written into an official, international document.2 In this essay I will argue that today ‘neu- trality’ is a key symbol of Irish identity, and that its symbolic significance increased as the nationalist perception of Ireland as a Catholic and Gaelic nation began to...
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