By Afri, October 5, 2022
Peace groups will protest at the Irish Government’s Arms Fair to be held at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, on Thursday, October 6th. To add insult to injury, this, the second such arms bazaar to be held by the Irish Government is entitled ‘Building the Ecosystem’! In a world riven by war and conflict, with our ecosystem on the verge of destruction as a result of endless wars, global warming and climate change, it is beyond bizarre that such an event should be hosted under such an insensitive title.
In November last year, COP 26 took place in Glasgow, when Governments of the World gathered and promised to take action to tackle the climate crisis. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said in his address that ‘Ireland was ready to play its part’ and that “if we act decisively now, we will offer humanity the most valuable prize of all – a liveable planet”.
Barely had Mr Martin finished speaking than his Government announced the first official arms fair in Dublin. This event was addressed by Minister Simon Coveney and had as a guest speaker the CEO of Thales, the biggest arms manufacturer on the island of Ireland, maker of fully fledged missile systems for export around the world. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce small businesses and Third Level Institutions in the Republic to Arms manufacturers, with a view to their making a killing in this arena.
And now, as COP 27 approaches, the Government has announced its second arms Fair to take place in the Aviva Stadium under the title, ‘Building the Ecosystem’! So, as the planet burns, and war rages in Ukraine and in at least fifteen other ‘theatres of war’ around the world, what does neutral Ireland do? Work to promote de-escalation, demilitarisation and disarmament? No, rather it accelerates its promotion of war and its participation in the war industry! And to add insult to injury, it describes the ultimate destructiveness of the scaffolding of war as ‘building the ecosystem’!
In his speech to COP 26, the Taoiseach said “human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate, the very future of our planet.” One of the most effective ways we can ‘determine the future of the planet’ is by eschewing war and the weapons industry and working for global disarmament, given that this fossil fuel-powered industry is amongst the biggest polluters on the planet. For example, the US Defence Department has a larger carbon footprint than most countries in the world.
This event represents a shameful betrayal by Fianna Fáil of the work of Frank Aiken, who devoted much of his life to working for disarmament and de-militarisation. It is even more shameful for the Green Party, who purportedly exist to protect our planet, to promote the war industry in this way, an industry that has been described by Brown University, among others as the greatest single contributor of greenhouse gases on the planet. It would appear that the shocking irony of promoting war while, at the same time, talking about tackling climate change, is lost on our political leaders.
Protest organiser, Joe Murray of Afri said “We in Ireland should know better than most the damage that weapons can do to people and our environment. The issue of decommissioning weapons following the Good Friday Agreement – which was happily achieved to a greater or lesser extent – dominated our media and public discourse for many years. Yet the Irish Government is now deliberately getting ever more deeply involved in the business of building weapons systems for profit, the consequences of which will inevitably be death, suffering and forced migration of people whom we do not know and against whom we have no gripe or grudge.”
Iain Atack of StoP (Swords to Ploughshares) added: “The world is already awash with weapons that are killing, maiming and driving people from their homes. And we don’t need more! The war industry racked up an almost incomprehensible bill of $2 trillion in 2021. Our planet is on the verge of destruction as a result of war and, relatedly, global warming. What is official Ireland’s response? A decision to participate in building more weapons, costing – literally – the earth.”