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Govt. condemnation of Mid-East brutality not credible while US military facilitated

20 May, 2004


Speaking during the course of today's Statements on Iraq in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin strongly criticised the Government saying they had "facilitated the invasion" and called on the Irish people "to protest peacefully" at the forthcoming visit of the US President. A motion on Iraq tabled by the five Sinn Féin TDs was published today and Deputy Ó Caoláin urged the Government to debate it and to reverse the plan to hold the EU-US Summit here. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot now stand up with any credibility and issue verbal condemnations of any aspect of the brutal occupation of Iraq by Anglo-American forces given that they facilitated the invasion and they continue to facilitate the occupation. The people who said 'No' to the invasion and the war were right. Bush and Blair and the Irish Government were wrong.

"As our motion states, the only way forward for the people of Iraq and the region is a speedy end to the occupation. The transition must be managed by the United Nations and any associated UN peace-keeping force must be led by troops from the Arab nations. That's what the Irish government should be promoting at the UN and in its EU Presidency.

"I call on people to protest peacefully at the visit to Ireland of US President George Bush. That visit should not be taking place. The Irish Presidency should require that the EU-US Summit be held in Washington and that it should bring to the US capital the demand of people throughout Europe for an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq and to the Israeli attempts to destroy the Palestinian nation." ENDS

Full text follows

Full text of statement on Iraq by Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin follows

The Government has scheduled these Statements on Iraq but has presented no motion that would define their position in exact terms. This is quite deliberate. In their usual fashion they want to have it both ways. I challenge them to put down an amendment to the motion in the name of the Sinn Féin deputies published today and to use Government time to debate it instead of staging these statements which are a face-saving exercise to mask the discredited international policy of this administration.

The government is led by a Taoiseach who was content to repeat in this House the totally spurious justifications advanced by the US and British governments for the illegal invasion of Iraq. He was content to allow Shannon Airport and Casement Aerodrome to become military bases for a belligerent power. The same Taoiseach then claimed that he agreed with the more than 100,000 people who marched on the streets of Dublin and Belfast to oppose the war, to oppose his collaboration with the war and to demand that Irish neutrality be respected and sovereignty restored to our airports and to our territory.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot now stand up with any credibility and issue verbal condemnations of any aspect of the brutal occupation of Iraq by Anglo-American forces given that they facilitated the invasion and they continue to facilitate the occupation.

The millions who demonstrated throughout the world against the Anglo-American invasion correctly predicted that it would lead to a nightmare for the Iraqi people, thousands of whom would be killed. They warned that it would lead not to the Iraqi people liberating themselves from the brutal Saddam Hussein dictatorship, but to a Western military occupation which would create a vicious cycle of brutal repression and brutal resistance. They warned that it would lead to human rights violations on a mass scale. All those things are now happening.

The people who said 'No' to the invasion and the war were right. Bush and Blair and the Irish Government were wrong.

Even before the invasion happened last year the Anglo-American alliance had been discredited in the eyes of the world and exposed as liars. The British government's so-called dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was proven to be a concoction thrown together to provide propaganda cover for the invasion.

In a reply to a letter of protest from the Sinn Féin TDs the British Ambassador in Dublin, Ivor Roberts, relied upon the discredited dossier and claimed that Iraq had "continued to try to produce nuclear weapons". What was presented as hard information from British intelligence had already been exposed as a sham well before the invasion. And since the invasion not a shred of evidence has been found to support the wild claims about weapons of mass destruction. And these were the very claims the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs used to justify their support for the invasion.

The news of torture of prisoners in Iraq by the British and US military should come as a surprise to no-one in this country. All the techniques of torture that have been exposed including hooding, sensory deprivation humiliation, beatings and attacking with dogs were used by the British Army in the Six Counties in the wake of internment without trial in 1971. Britain was convicted of inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners by the European Court of Human Rights in a case brought by the Irish Government. What we are seeing in Iraq is nothing new ? they are the tried and tested methods of occupation used by Britain in Aden , Cyprus, Malaya, Kenya and in our own country. We, above all nations, should be loudest in our opposition to the disastrous revival of Western military occupation and Western imperialism in the Middle East and Gulf region.

How then can the Irish government justify the Irish Government's support for the military occupation of Iraq which is imposing on the Iraqi people the colonial methods tried and tested in many countries by Britain and the US?

There is growing evidence that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself ordered the brutal methods to be used on prisoners. It does not seem to concern this government in the slightest that Donald Rumsfeld was so assured in his sense of ownership of Shannon Airport that he was photographed addressing his troops there as if he was in a US Air Force base in America itself.

The current political and military chaos in Iraq is happening not because the people of that ancient civilisation are not able to govern themselves. It is a direct result of this disastrous intervention by Western powers. It will have as yet unmeasured consequences throughout the region and throughout the world. We see the results in Palestine with the Bush administration giving free rein to its main ally in the Middle East, the Israeli government, to slaughter the Palestinian people with impunity.

As our motion states, the only way forward for the people of Iraq and the region is a speedy end to the occupation. The transition must be managed by the United Nations and any associated UN peace-keeping force must be led by troops from the Arab nations. That's what the Irish government should be promoting at the UN and in its EU Presidency.

I call on people to protest peacefully at the visit to Ireland of US President George Bush. That visit should not be taking place. The Irish Presidency should require that the EU-US Summit be held in Washington and that it should bring to the US capital the demand of people throughout Europe for an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq and to the Israeli attempts to destroy the Palestinian nation.

The Aerodrome in Baldonnell which this Government has allowed to be used by the occupation forces, was named after a great humanitarian and a great Irish republican, Roger Casement. In the month of his execution in 1916 he wrote of the imperialist war then at its height: "These artificial and unnatural wars, prompted by greed and power, are the source of all misery now destroying mankind?" The Irish government should either cease its co-operation with the occupation of Iraq and close Shannon and Baldonnell to these forces, or else remove the name of Roger Casement whose memory has been dishonoured by this Government's abandonment of independent foreign policy.

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