Why isn't the Republic of Ireland a member of the Five Eyes Security Alliance?



I observe that Rep. Ireland is a notable absentee from the group, despite being one of our 'Anglo Mates', and sharing the same views regarding Global security. EU membership aside, why is this?


Posted 2020-06-03T05:22:48.363

Reputation: 521

8The claim "sharing [whose?] same views regarding Global security" is nonsense (please substantiate it), even if we assumed the ambiguous "one of our [whose?] 'Anglo Mates'" refers to 'the UK'. I'd even go so far as to say that the phrase "Global security" is dangerously meaningless; if the US wants to (say) foment a coup in Venezuela and starts designating lots of its citizens terrorists, why do you believe other English-speaking countries should act in lockstep? And by the way even the Five-Eyes countries themselves disagree, such as Australian PM Gough Whitlam opposing the Vietnam War. – smci – 2020-06-04T00:44:02.117



Ireland has had a policy of neutrality as far as international relations are concerned since WWII. Although this has never been formally codified in their constitution, and indeed recently such an amendment was rejected, neutrality is an important part of Irish foreign policy which has also precluded the country from joining organisations such as NATO, where it would seem a clear candidate.

The population of Ireland has generally remained extremely supportive of the policy of neutrality, a 1996 poll showed 99% of respondents supported Ireland maintaining the policy. It seems likely that had a governing party sought to join the military alliance, this would have translated to a drastic fall in public support upon the decision being revealed.

Finally, the Five Eyes alliance can trace its origins back to the post-WWII Atlantic Charter which set out the goals of the Allied forces in the post-war era. As Ireland remained neutral during the war, they were not directly involved in these discussions.


Posted 2020-06-03T05:22:48.363

Reputation: 47 740

1The first two paragraphs have a similar mismatching to the question as the answer by @StephenG and is barking up the wrong tree with a misplaced emphasis on NATO, which is not equivalent to Five Eyes. Japan is also a neutral country, constitutionally guaranteed, but works closely with Five Eyes. Singapore is part of the NAM but also works with Five Eyes. The third paragraph is more appropriate but could use some expansion. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T20:47:00.083

7@gormadoc: red herrings. 5(/9/14) Eyes is not neutral; NATO is not neutral; they are both security alliances originating in the 1940s. And with the same countries, once you exclude Oceania (+SG). They have a lot in common, and Ireland shuns a lot of it. The comparison to Japan and Japanese neutrality is specious. Japan has been independent for 2000+ years (Ireland only 100 years), and Japan was pretty warlike from the Meiji era until WWII; and today it's temporarily pacifist, as a direct reaction to having gone berserk in mainland Asia in the 20th C. And even at that, has 23 US military bases. – smci – 2020-06-04T05:59:14.913

1Ireland has observed neutrality long before WW2. It could be argued that it goes as far back well in to the 18th century with the Nine Years War. However, in 1922 during the development of the Irish constitution, Irish neutrality was set there. – mickburkejnr – 2020-06-05T15:12:38.077


and sharing the same views regarding Global security.

I think this is a fundamental flaw in your viewpoint. Ireland has demonstrated a very different viewpoint from the UK and US and their primary allies. This goes beyond any historic differences on Irish-centric security and derives primarily from Ireland very much seeing itself primarily as a European state.

Ireland actively participates on European security issues (constitution allowing, see CDJB's answer for more), whereas in no way could the US, Australian, New Zealand, Canada or even the UK (which has formally left the EU) been said to be focused on EU security matters. I think it's fair to say that the EU clashes with these countries as often as not on security issues. Ireland is a founding member of the Common Security and Defense Policy group, further demonstrating Ireland's commitment to the EU.

Ireland has a very strong connection to European politics and all other ties do seem to be weaker.

Irish neutrality in WWII was a different issue and I do not think, in the modern context, it relates to this issue. Ireland that time was a poor country coming out of a very difficult Civil War (1920's) and political views at that time, while not being pro-German, were also definitely not pro-UK. At that time Ireland's European ties were quite weak, so the primary focus was on avoiding further conflict where possible. After WWII Ireland's focus was on development and when (in the 1970s) Ireland was in a position to join the EEC, Ireland as a nation embraced this opportunity in a way that our UK neighbors never really did. Ireland adopted it's new European identity as it's primary one, whereas the members of Five Eyes do not. So while we share some common viewpoints with Five Eyes, we could not be said to be a "good fit" to it, any more than other EU members are.


Posted 2020-06-03T05:22:48.363

Reputation: 2 325

While the facts are true I think this answers a different but similar question about why Ireland doesn't cooperate closely with Five Eyes. Most of Western Europe does now, but Ireland still does not. France is a close partner and nearly joined Five Eyes while being the driving force in the "European project" but didn't see a conflict between "European" values and that cooperation. Germany has been in a similar position as well. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T20:33:19.470

5I don't see how my answer can simultaneously show why Ireland does "not cooperate closely" but does not answer the question "why is it not a member". If Ireland cannot "cooperate closely" it certainly cannot be a member. The question was not about what France or Germany does or did. In recent years there has, IMO, been a widening of the gap between Europe and the US and UK in terms of global political and military goals and approaches. Cooperation that was once politically acceptable is now less so in Europe, the UK has gone anti-EU in mentality and the US has become very "unpredictable". – StephenG – 2020-06-03T20:50:22.273

Because I don't think it answers that particularly well, either. France and Germany have been close allies with Five Eyes on the intelligence front (Five Eyes is intelligence, not military) despite having European values and seeing themselves as European, so that's not a great reason for why Ireland doesn't do it. Almost all of Western Europe works with Five Eyes in some capacity, so "European values" seem to have no relationship to cooperation with Five Eyes. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T20:56:04.627

Since those countries have also not joined Five Eyes, it seems that there is another reason, unrelated to European values, that they have not joined. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T20:57:27.013

3@gormadoc Can't have it both ways : "can't cooperate closely" and "membership" are mutually exclusive. I do not accept that France and Germany cooperate closely now unless there is a strong reason for each specific case of cooperation. Trump's foreign "policy" has been a cause of major friction and greatly reduces the political acceptability of cooperation in Europe. – StephenG – 2020-06-03T21:08:49.353

1Germany and France (as well as other countries) have increased cooperation with Five Eyes on matters relating to Chinese acquisitions in the last couple of years. The Snowden leaks implicated most of Western Europe in another agreement with Five Eyes. Intelligence sharing agreements do not just suddenly collapse like you might think; they are closely intertwined so that nobody can suddenly screw over everybody else. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T21:17:38.020

The point is, you're pointing at something that isn't the real cause: Ireland is not unique in having European values but is nearly unique out of the countries with European values in not cooperating with Five Eyes. However, even those other countries aren't members. If European values aren't a factor and level of cooperation isn't a factor, then the reason is something else. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T21:19:34.987

3@gormadoc If you feel there are "other reasons" then you're free to post an answer stating what you think they are (and why). I also think you are confusing behind the scenes contacts and indirect contacts and exchanges with formal agreements - the OP was asking about a formal membership, not what goes not behind the scenes in the intelligence "community". Formal membership and public cooperation would be politically problematic for Ireland as the general view in Ireland politically is that it's European focused and neutral. – StephenG – 2020-06-03T21:41:28.260


FVEY developed from the second world war and the intelligence sharing between various allies during and after the war.

Ireland was not allied to the UK and the USA during the war (it remained technically neutral) Moreover Ireland was not part of the Commonwealth, and the "five eyes" club was an agreement to share intelligence between the US and the British, including aligned members of the Commonwealth.

James K

Posted 2020-06-03T05:22:48.363

Reputation: 70 324

2I think this is most correct: Five Eyes formed at a time when Ireland was not an ally or particularly involved in politics of that nature (and was probably a target, given Anglo-Irish relations). As for why they haven't joined since then, no country has joined since then and no offers have been extended, although there were talks with France on the matter. – gormadoc – 2020-06-03T20:38:51.083

1@gormadoc "no offers have been extended" This might be a reasonable part answer if you'd care to expand on that point and (maybe) find some links supporting that position. You certainly can't join a club if the members don't want new members. Maybe you would consider making a post on this. – StephenG – 2020-06-04T00:33:40.530

2Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949. – mikado – 2020-06-04T10:43:40.283

@StephenG I understand that you're upset I don't like your answer, but I think this answer here is most correct. I don't want to post another answer just to dilute the answers already here. – gormadoc – 2020-06-04T15:12:07.617

@mikado Ireland didn't participate in the Commonwealth anyway before they left, unlike the Free State predecessor, so while technically correct it's not far off from the truth or how the Irish government saw themselves. – gormadoc – 2020-06-04T15:27:37.307

1@gormadoc You have very strange ideas if you think someone encouraging you to post an answer is a sign of them being "upset" with you. More answers do not dilute existing answers, they compliment them. Comments, while they may seem persistent, are not guaranteed to be persistent on SE generally, so answers with information are preferred to comments as long as the answers adds some useful additional information not in existing posts. – StephenG – 2020-06-04T17:04:32.337

@StephenG you've been increasingly antagonistic towards me and suggested that I essentially put-up-or-shut-up twice, hours apart, so it certainly seems that you're upset. I think this is a good answer already (if short) and made a suggestion to make it better (less short). That's the point of commenting. – gormadoc – 2020-06-04T17:13:49.077

@gormadoc You are free to contact a moderator if you feel I'm being "antagonistic" (I do not see that myself) and I'm sure they'll make an independent evaluation of what ever. communications you flag in this regard. – StephenG – 2020-06-04T17:26:23.947


The important thing to recognize is that while Britain may think of Ireland as a "mate", Ireland thinks of the British state as the former colonial power from which it won independence violently, which partitioned Ireland, and which ran a policy of state violence against Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland for decades until the peace treaty in 1998. (A plan was even drawn up for armed intervention by the Republic in 1970, although only for the purposes of recognizing that it was infeasible)

Ireland itself has very little in the way of state security apparatus, or even military, but it does have a small Department of Military Intelligence.


Posted 2020-06-03T05:22:48.363

Reputation: 20 613

5I consider that this paints a picture of antagonism and sectarianism which was not the reality within the Republic of Ireland. The 1916 "Rising" was generally opposed by the majority in Ireland, as the UK political climate was heading towards peaceful independence anyway. Only very bad handling of the trial and executions led to political (not violent) protest such that the UK government decided to negotiate a peaceful separation. All governments did (and still do) have plans for combat against notionally friendly neighbors as contingencies for emergencies. – StephenG – 2020-06-04T21:20:44.443

1I think the modern day reality is much brighter than the picture this answer paints. Most Irish people I know would view people from Britain just as they would people from anywhere else, and many would have connections through family or work with Britain. Unfortunately, as is evident with contemporary politics, the extremes tend to dictate public opinion. (I am Irish & grew up in Ireland.) – copper.hat – 2020-06-06T06:38:03.440