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Curragh training raises further questions of Irish complicity in human rights abuses and breaches of neutrality

7 December, 2005

Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin spokesperson for International Affairs and Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD raised the issue of the complete absence of criteria to ensure safeguards against Irish complicity in human rights abuses and breaches of Irish neutrality covering the applications from foreign soldiers for training in the Curragh.

The Minister of State Tom Kitt, who was substituting for no-show Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, acknowledged that all applications for training from foreign militaries that have been received have been accepted.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Responses to quite valid parliamentary questions from myself show that the countries of origin of these soldiers include Israel, Russia and many NATO countries.

"In the case of both Israel and Russia UN resolutions have been either completely ignored or only partially complied with by these states and their military forces. Arbitrary detention, torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions remain the hallmark of the conflict in Chechnya and Russian federal forces were responsible for about 450 abductions last year. It would appear that there are no safeguards in place to ensure against either complicity in human rights abuses or against breaches of Irish neutrality.

"Any part that is being played in these atrocities by this state is too big a part and instead of lending these countries legitimacy or meeting their needs, we should instead be boycotting the militaries in particular of these countries and especially until the Israeli abuses of the Palestinian people cease.

"Will the Minister of State offer a guarantee to the effect that no country whose military are involved in breaching international law will receive training in the Curragh camp or anywhere else in this jurisdiction in the future?"

Minister Kitt promised to urge Willie O'Dea to take on board the human rights concerns raised by Sinn Féin. Speaking afterwards Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed this commitment. ENDS

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