‘In these turbulent times is neutrality an option anymore?’

‘In these turbulent times is neutrality an option anymore?’

23rd July 2022

On 23 July 2022, the Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy and the MacGill Summer School, co-hosted a security panel discussion on: ‘In these turbulent times is neutrality an option anymore?’, as part of The MacGill Summer School 2022. The session was part of the Azure Forum and MacGill Summer School’s continuing collaboration to provide a broader, open platform for discussions on the security elements of pertinent national and international affairs’ debates, together with thought leaders from a broad range of other professional disciplines and backgrounds beyond the security community. Every July, the Summer School brings together government ministers, parliamentarians, heads of industry, trade union leaders, economists, sociologists, church leaders and a broad range of public representatives, to discuss the critical issues facing the country, Europe and our world. The 42nd Summer School, held in association with the University of Notre Dame, returned as an in-person event in the Glenties, County Donegal on 21-24 July 2022 and explored the theme of “The Destruction of Ukraine and its People”. This year’s joint security session explored whether neutrality remains an option for states in these turbulent times and was moderated by Brigid Laffan, Emeritus Professor, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Panellists included: Andrew Cottey, Professor, University College CorkCaitríona Heinl, Executive Director, The Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy;  Paddy McGuinness, CMG, OBE, Advisory Council Member, The Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy and H.E. Ambassador Adriaan Palm, Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in Dublin. A recording of the security panel discussion is available to view at the link here.


Brigid Laffan is Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute. Professor Laffan was Director and Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Director of the Global Governance Programme and the European Governance and Politics Programme at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence until her retirement in August 2021. Previously, she was Professor of European Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) University College Dublin (UCD), and she was Vice-President of UCD and Principal of the College of Human Sciences from 2004 to 2011. She was also the founding director of the Dublin European Institute UCD from 1999 and in March 2004 she was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy. She is a member of the Board of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, the Fulbright Commission (until September 2013) and was the 2013 Visiting Scientist for the EXACT Marie Curie Network. In November 2018 she was ranked among the women who shape Europe by POLITICO and was also awarded by the University of Limerick Alumni Association with its highest honour. In September 2014 Professor Laffan was awarded the UACES Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012 she was awarded the THESEUS Award for outstanding research on European Integration. In 2010 she was awarded the Ordre national du Mérite by the President of the French Republic.

Andrew Cottey is Professor and EU Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Integration, Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork. He has been at UCC since 1999 and was Head of the Department of Government and Politics from 2013 to 2018. His teaching and research are in the areas of international relations and international security. He has been a NATO Research Fellow, a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and a Visiting Researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). He previously taught at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford (1993-1999). His publications include Security in 21st Century Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition 2013) and Understanding Chinese Politics: An Introduction to Government in the People’s Republic of China (co-authored with Neil Collins, Manchester University Press, 2012).

Caitríona Heinl is Executive Director at The Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy and Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin. She has over ten years’ experience within research, academic and consulting environments specialising in international security and defence with particular focus on conflict prevention strategies related to international cybersecurity policy, strategic technologies, regional security architectures and the Asia Pacific/South East Asia/EU from a geostrategic perspective. Her work has included research, projects, consulting, public outreach/lectures, training, and capacity building at home and abroad for government agencies, international organisations and industry such as the UN, NATO, the OSCE, the EU, ASEAN/ARF, military colleges, the diplomatic corps, ministries of justice and defence, cybersecurity corporations and insurance companies. Caitríona was previously responsible for policy under the NTU Business School Cyber Risk Management project and Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Centre of Excellence for National Security. In this role, she provided policy analysis to the National Security Coordination Secretariat under the Prime Minister’s Office and other government agencies. She previously led the Justice and Home Affairs policy group and Justice Steering Committee at the Institute of International and European Affairs (Ireland). She is a member of the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs Foreign Policy Network, having held Fellowships with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Leiden University Institute of Security and Global Affairs. She served as a member of the Irish government’s Commission on the Defence Forces 2020-2022, and continues her work as a subject matter expert within a number of EU cyber diplomacy and security projects.

Caitríona Heinl

Paddy McGuinness advises businesses and governments globally on data and cyber issues, business resilience and geopolitical and regulatory risk.  He is a senior adviser at the critical issues firm Brunswick Group providing counsel to clients across the firm’s regions and specialisms. He sits on the advisory committee of the UK’s reinsurance pool for Terrorism risk PoolRe. From 2014-2018, Paddy was the UK’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Intelligence, Security and Resilience advising two successive British Prime Ministers on UK Homeland Security and Government Security policy.  This included the National Risk Assessment and ability to respond to and recover from all hazards and threats, National crisis coordination, Cyber strategies and programmes, Counter Terrorism, Counter Hostile State Activities, resilience of Critical National Infrastructure and issues with inward investment. Through Hudhud Associates Paddy also supports Private Equity funds on a range of transactions, and works with technology start and scale ups as an adviser and investor.  He is a co-founder of Oxford Digital Health and 2020Partners and is on the advisory Boards of Venari Security, Glasswall Solutions, Blackout Technologies and Kazuar-Tech. A career Foreign Service Officer, Paddy previously held leadership positions covering variously Counter Terrorism, aspects of Cyber, the Middle East, Iran, Counter Proliferation and Africa.  He has served overseas in Yemen, UAE, Egypt and Italy and has been a UK envoy on Yemen, on Counter Terrorism, on National Security and Law Enforcement access to data and on data arrangements with the EU post-Brexit.  He was honoured with an OBE in 1997 and CMG in 2014. Paddy currently advises the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy and was a Commissioner of the Oxford Internet Institute Commission on Elections and Technology which reported in October 2019.  He is Chair of Trustees at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney.


Adriaan Palm has been the Dutch Ambassador to Ireland since February 2019. As a career diplomat, he has been working for more than thirty years at the Dutch foreign service. He has an extensive background in EU affairs, Eastern Europe and East Asia, with previous postings in Warsaw, Moscow, Kyiv and Manila. Before coming to Dublin, he was the Dutch roving Ambassador for the Eastern Partnership. He is married and holds a degree in business economics.