"Iniúchadh TG4 – Éire Neodrach?" ("TG4 investigates - Neutral Ireland?") a new documentary examining the impact of world events on Ireland’s neutrality, debuts tonight, Wednesday, July 19, on TG4 in Ireland.

In the new TG4 documentary, award-winning journalist Kevin Magee investigates what Irish neutrality really means at present and if Irish neutrality is likely to change, and if so, is the country able to defend itself in the modern era? 

Although Ireland remains a neutral country, a former member of the Irish Defence Forces speaks about how he served alongside NATO officers in Afghanistan during the US “war on terror."

Former Lieutenant Colonel Michael Murphy said: “I was a volunteer to go overseas.

"Headquarters then decides who is going to which mission around the world and I was picked to go to Afghanistan and there was seven of us serving in Afghanistan.”

He added: “We weren’t fighting, I would say. We were in the headquarters, helping at the headquarter level.” 

Also in the documentary, former Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea T.D. confirmed to TG4 that the Irish Government has a longstanding arrangement with the Royal Air Force in relation to surveillance and intelligence of hostile or alien aircraft.

He explained the arrangement to Magee: “There had been one or two occasions when we had to make contact with the relevant people in Russia, basically through the Russian embassy to make enquiries.

"I don’t want to go into too much detail on it, but the intelligence, the information was available to us from the RAF, from British Intelligence because of a longstanding arrangement between Ireland and the UK.”

Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov is also interviewed in the program; he said that in his opinion Ireland is not neutral.

“Right now, Ireland is not neutral – in the context of the conflict in Ukraine," Filatov says.

"That is the fact, and we know that.

"In political terms, the Irish government is stepping more and more into the role of direct participation in the conflict, which would certainly be a factor in our political decisions.”

He says that Russia doesn’t have a military interest in Ireland: “Our approach to Ireland has never been defined in military terms. It has never been the case and it’s not the case right now, and I don’t think that will be the case in the future.” 

When asked if there was a threat from Russian ships off the Irish coast to Ireland, he replied, “We don’t play these kinds of games - there is no threat from whatever ships are passing by Ireland or in the vicinity of Ireland. It’s a very heavy traffic - maritime traffic - area and all of the world uses that as well as Russian ships.

"Well, it is inevitable because the cables are there and any ship which makes its way through the area, this area, you can claim that it’s over the cables, but it doesn’t mean that there is any intent to do any harm to these cables.” 

Also featured in the programme is Senator Tom Clonan, a former captain in the Irish Defence Forces who witnessed US soldiers passing through Shannon Airport with arms on board, and peace activist Edward Horgan from Co Limerick who believes that Ireland should practice 'active neutrality.'

"Iniúchadh TG4 – Éire Neodrach?" will broadcast on Wednesday, July 19 at 9:30 pm on TG4 and worldwide on the TG4 Player.

You can watch the trailer for "Iniúchadh TG4 – Éire Neodrach" here: