Selling Out Sovereignty Ireland’s Defence Forces and the King’s Shilling

Selling Out Sovereignty Ireland’s Defence Forces and the King’s Shilling

By R. McAney for (IDFVN), (Irish Channel)

In recent years, a growing chorus of criticism has emerged over the underfunding and mismanagement of Ireland’s Defence Forces. Critics argue that this neglect is emblematic of a deeper issue: the erosion of Irish sovereignty and an over-reliance on foreign powers for national security. Central to these concerns is the alleged secret agreement with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) to patrol Irish airspace, a controversy that has now reached the High Court.

The State of the Defence Forces

Ireland’s Defence Forces, particularly the Naval Service and Air Corps, have faced severe underfunding, leading to operational constraints that critics say endanger national security. The Naval Service, for example, is struggling to maintain a fleet capable of patrolling Ireland’s vast maritime territory. Despite acquiring new vessels, only one ship is typically at sea at any given time due to crew shortages and budget constraints. This has created significant gaps in maritime security, allowing an influx of drugs and firearms into the country.

Moreover, the Air Corps has faced its own challenges, notably in pilot training. Training has been outsourced to the British RAF, raising questions about the independence and readiness of Ireland’s air defence capabilities. The lack of homegrown training programs further underscores the reliance on foreign military support.

The RAF Agreement Controversy

The alleged secret agreement between Ireland and the UK, permitting the RAF to intercept potential threats in Irish airspace, has brought these issues to a head. Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has taken the matter to the High Court, challenging the constitutionality of such an agreement, if it exists, and criticising the government’s refusal to confirm or deny its existence.

Mr. Justice Brian Cregan, presiding over the case, noted the state’s “point blank” refusal to disclose information about the agreement. The state’s position is that such a matter, involving national security, is non-justiciable unless there is a clear disregard for the Constitution. This stance has raised significant concerns about transparency and accountability in the management of national defence.

Sovereignty and Accountability

At the heart of this controversy is a broader issue of sovereignty. Article 29.5.1 of the Irish Constitution mandates that any international agreement must be laid before the Dáil (Irish Parliament) and, if significant, subjected to a referendum. The alleged RAF agreement, purportedly established post-9/11 without parliamentary approval, represents a potential breach of this constitutional requirement.

Critics argue that such secretive arrangements undermine the democratic process and the principles of national sovereignty. The government’s reluctance to provide clarity only fuels suspicions that Ireland’s defense policy is increasingly influenced by external powers, notably the UK.

Political Responses and Public Sentiment

The response from political parties and government ministers has been marked by a mix of praise and neglect for the Defence Forces. Publicly, ministers and officials commend the dedication and service of military personnel. However, behind the scenes, decisions that potentially compromise Irish sovereignty are being made without public consultation or parliamentary oversight.

Fianna Fáil (FF), Fine Gael (FG), and the Green Party, currently in coalition government, along with the unofficial member of the coalition Sinn Féin (SF), have all faced criticism for their handling of defence issues. The perception that these parties have “sold out” to foreign interests is exacerbated by ongoing underfunding and the outsourcing of critical defence functions.

The Broader Implications

The implications of these issues extend beyond the realm of national defense. They touch upon the very fabric of Irish democracy and sovereignty. The lack of transparency in defence agreements and the persistent underfunding of the Defence Forces raise questions about Ireland’s ability to independently safeguard its national interests.

The court case brought by Senator Craughwell is a pivotal moment. It challenges not only the legality of the alleged RAF agreement but also the broader policy direction that has led to the current state of affairs. A ruling in favour of greater transparency and constitutional adherence could set a precedent for more accountable governance in defence matters.


Ireland’s Defence Forces are at a crossroads, grappling with underfunding and potential over-reliance on foreign powers. The controversy over the alleged RAF agreement highlights deeper concerns about sovereignty and democratic accountability. As the High Court deliberates on this critical issue, the broader question remains: has Ireland, in pursuit of security, compromised its sovereignty for the proverbial King’s Shilling?

The outcome of this legal battle, and the subsequent political responses, will shape the future of Ireland’s defence policy and its adherence to constitutional principles. For the citizens of the Irish state, the resolution of these issues is paramount to ensuring that national security does not come at the cost of national sovereignty.

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