Appointment of Dame Louise Richardson DBE as Chairperson Casts Serious Doubt Over Impartiality and Integrity of the Process

The Irish Neutrality League deems the recently announced Consultative Forums on International Security Policy to be, patently, a government mechanism for abandoning the triple lock and neutrality, and for increasing involvement in EU common-defence pacts and for eventually securing Irish membership of NATO.

The consultative element will be nothing more than a pretence at consultation. The forums are a poor substitute for a Citizens Assembly, which the government clearly fears would recommend continued neutrality and its enshrining in the constitution.

The government-appointed chairperson, Dame Louise Richardson DBE, who will write the report making recommendations to the government, holds US as well as Irish citizenship and fully identifies with US foreign policy and militarism. She has clearly been chosen because she can be relied upon to make the recommendations the government seeks. In 2022, the government approved the awarding of a British Damehood (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) to Ms Richardson by Queen Elizabeth II. (“Cabinet to give its approval to damehoods for Irish citizens”, Irish Examiner, 23 May 2022, https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/politics/arid-40879199.html)

Ms Richardson’s appointment as chairperson of the forums therefore casts a serious doubt over the impartiality and integrity of the process. The Irish Neutrality League is certain that, given the government’s determination to abandon neutrality, the forums have been established to prepare the ground for this, and that the forums are not seriously intended to facilitate honest consultation with the public. Rather, the government intends to sidestep the public’s overwhelming support for neutrality with this underhand tactic.

However, the Irish Neutrality League and many other pro-neutrality organisations are very determined to expose the Consultative Forums on International Security Policy for the sham they are, and to resolutely defend neutrality.

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Dame Louise Richardson DBE
Ms Richardson, who holds US as well as Irish citizenship, fully identifies with US foreign policy and militarism. Writing about the US invasion of Afghanistan following 9/11, she has written: “We did not use the mechanism of NATO or any other international institution to fashion or implement a response. We felt strong enough to react on our own, and so we did.” (“What Terrorists Want”, Random House, 2006, p. 173)

Writing about the overthrow of the Chilean government in 1973 by the military with US connivance, and about the US attempted overthrow of the Cuban government in 1961 and of the attempted overthrow of the Nicaraguan government by the US-back Contras from 1979–90, Ms Richardson has written, uncritically, that “An examination of these cases reveals that the United States had very good reasons to object to the governments of Chile, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Their ideological orientation was inimical to its own, so it supported local groups that used whatever means were available to them to try to bring them down.” (“What Terrorists Want”, Random House, 2006, p. 52)

Ms Richardson, an academic, has also expressed the view that universities should undertake research to inform government policy. In “What Terrorists Want”, she wrote: “On another occasion a member of the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism visited Harvard to find out what terrorism research was being conducted there. He complained bitterly about how we were not being helpful, going off doing research wherever we liked instead of focusing on the government’s policy concerns. I argued back just as vehemently that it was not in our interest, and I didn’t think it was even in his, to turn universities into the research arm of the government. Later at an academic conference, in a talk entitled ‘Long Live the Gap,’ I argued for preserving the distance between government policy and academic research. Experience since September 11, 2001, has taught me to moderate this view. Had the American government’s policy in the past few years been informed by the views of the terrorism studies community, it would have been a very different policy indeed.” (“What Terrorists Want”, Random House, 2006, p. xix)

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