CYBER THREATS – TIME TO RETHINK IRISH NEUTRALITY.

Watching the continuing slaughter and destruction in Ukraine and the mass displacement of people affecting many countries, including our own, will force us to re-examine some of our traditionally held positions including neutrality.  However, let me start with remarks made by Jen Easterly, a US Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure .  This week via video link at the annual CyberUK Conference. She said  “The stakes in the decade ahead could not be any higher particularly for those of us in technology and cyber security”.  She went on to say “ It was not an exaggeration to say that the next 10 years will determine whether the governments of the post 2nd World War liberal order will survive”.  Don’t know about you but that sent a shiver down my spine.  You might think, how can this affect us ?  Well in my view all you have to look at is the attempt by the damn Russians to expand their embassy in Dublin.  They announced their plans in 2015 but in April 2020 the then Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy blocked the expansion because it was “ likely to be harmful to the security and the defence of the State and the State’s relationship with other States”.  To my knowledge they are still pursuing this project.  Our government must resist this at every juncture.  Any of Putin’s GRU goons in Ireland are hardly here for benign purposes and we should realise that there are so many high tech companies based here which must affect the State’s vulnerability.

This week it was also clear that Vlad the Bad’s reckless war with Ukraine rather than weakening NATO was going to lead to its expansion when Finland’s Parliamentary Defence Committee recommended their  government should join the alliance.  There has been a very significant shift in public support.    Before the war 25% were in favour of joining but that has now leapt to well over 70%.  Together with Sweden the Finns are expected to join NATO’s June Summit in Madrid.  Speaking about the development, Pekka Toveri, a former Chief of Intelligence for the Finnish Defence Forces said “ Now there’s no way in hell they can protect Kola and St. Petersburg”.  Putin and the Kremlin are clearly unnerved by the development, speaking darkly that there will be consequences.  As Boris Johnson has already visited both countries and signed some sort of alliance pledging military support, it would seem that any attack on either country by Russia would provoke a response from NATO.  By his own belligerence, ruthlessness and stupidity, Putin has pulled off the very geo-political shift he was seeking to avoid.  Combined with the successes of the Ukraine troops on the ground, things aren’t exactly going his way.  There is no question the British contribution in terms of weapons and pre-war training of troops has been significant.  All of that is exemplary.

It is such a shame then that this current British government falls down over the damn Protocol.  Brexit wasn’t oven-ready.  The recipe for Northern Ireland wasn’t thought out but they stuck it into the oven anyway, thinking they could sort it out later.  Now is later.