Defence Minister urged to reverse decision preventing naval families from giving dockside good-bye – Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin Defence spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Irish Naval authorities to lift the ban which they have imposed on families of sailors to prevent them being at the quayside tomorrow (Friday) when the LE William Butler Yeats set sails from Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork for a humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean.
The Dublin South-Central TD said:
“This ban seems to be in place in order to facilitate Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe’s expected visit to Haulbowline base tomorrow for the officers commissioning ceremony.
“I understand he intends using this visit to announce the Government’s change to the humanitarian mission mandate to the Navy Top Brass, on the back of the Dáil passing a contentious motion to change search and rescue operations in the Med in order to allow the Navy to participate in offensive actions against Libyan smugglers at sea and on land.
“There is a long tradition that Navy families be allowed to see off their loved ones from the dockside as they set sail on a tour of duty and it both wrong and unacceptable for the Minister and the Naval authorities to prevent this from happening.
“I understand that there is a good deal of anger at the government’s decision with the lobby group Women and Partners’ of the Defence Forces describing the decision as ‘disgusting’.
“It is bad enough that Minister Kehoe’s Department has rushed through a motion that compromises Irish neutrality and significantly alter the role of the navy in the Mediterranean but to then deny families the opportunity to say a last good bye to their loved ones as they embark on a 3 month mission is nothing short of disgraceful.”