Activist arrested as British Navy ignores Irish neutrality

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A former councillor has been arrested in Cork after challenging the presence of a British Navy warship.

The ship, HMS Enterprise, had been flying the Union Jack while docked in the heart of Cork city in a flagrant violation of Ireland’s military neutrality.

During a seven minute video uploaded to the internet, veteran political activist Diarmaid Ó Cadhla drew attention to the situation.

“Good afternoon folks here from sunny Cork city where [there is] a terrible offensive image here,” he narrates from the dockside.

“What we’re looking at is a Nato and British warship.

“You see soldiers up here armed with automatic weapons… Now anybody who has ever been in the armed forces will know you only carry a weapon if there is a conceivable position or context in which you would discharge the weapon and use it.

“So I wonder what are the conditions which would allow these armed soldiers to discharge their weapons here in the middle of the sovereign territory of a state that they do not belong to and do not serve.”

Mr Ó Cadhla is then seen confronting the British naval officers and a tense exchange follows as they shout “stop” and “go down”.

Gardaí police then intervene to arrest Mr O Cadhla and his cameraman, while ignoring the threats from the gunmen on board the ship. Mr Ó Cadhla, a former Cork county councillor, was later charged with trespassing.

Mr Ó Cadhla has previously protested against the honouring of British colonial figures in Irish placenames, as well as the failure of the courts to permit the use of the Irish language.

The actions of the Gardaí in intervening to protect the British warship were condemned by republicans.

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement said the presence of a British naval gunship in an Irish port raised fundamental questions concerning Ireland’s long-standing military neutrality.

“Currently British and NATO forces are, among other things, engaged in the direct provision of military equipment [which] begs the question; is the presence of this warship, under armed Garda protection, a part of that process?

“At a time when Irish citizens are experiencing a cost of living crisis as a direct consequence of that conflict perhaps those who fawned over the recent platinum jubilee of the commander in chief of British armed forces could explain to the Irish people precisely where their priorities lie?”

Donegal councillor Micheál Mac Giolla Easbuig hit out at Britain’s use of Ireland as a staging post for its military actions.

“The current coalition government seem determined to sleepwalk the Irish people into the position of belligerents in the continued wars of western imperialism,” he said.

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