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Ó Snodaigh welcomes Cluster Munitions Bill

4 November, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Minel Bill in the Dáil this evening and has indicated Sinn Féin's support for it. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the Bill should be amended to ensure that Ireland refuses to co-operate on international missions with countries who still retain or manufacture cluster bombs.

He said, "Sinn Féin welcomes the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Bill and will be supporting it this evening.

"Cluster bombs are especially horrific by their nature, intended to kill and maim even after the war is over, scattering hundreds of 'bomblets' across a wide area. They can lay undisturbed for generations. One-third of all recorded cluster munitions casualties are children.

"When the campaign for a comprehensive ban on landmines began there were, it is estimated, 260 million antipersonnel mines held by 131 separate states. In the less than ten years since the treaty was signed the number of countries possessing antipersonnel mines has dropped to 54.

"Signing a Treaty does not mean that landmines have vanished from the earth. In countries all over the world the signing of the Landmine Treaty was just another step in campaigning by human rights and peace activists in those states. Landmines continue to kill and maim thousands of people every year. But before the ban was put in place Human Rights Watch estimated that landmines killed or injured 26,000 people every year. They now believe that number to have dropped to around five to seven thousand.

"There is an onus on Ireland to do more than sign the Convention. We must campaign on it and encourage more state to not only sign up, but act on it. There is a special onus on those who developed, stockpiled and used cluster munitions over generations. Responsibility must lie with them to clear their unexploded munitions from former battlefields in post war countries.

"When signing trade agreements Ireland should insist on a clause being inserted that ensures that the other country in question does not manufacture of stockpile this horrific weapon of war.

"Furthermore Ireland should refuse to co-operate on international missions with countries who still retain or manufacture cluster bombs and the bill needs to be amended to reflect this." ENDS

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