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Reasonable suspicion enough to search US planes

14 December, 2005


Sinn Féin International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the response from Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern today to a question regarding the search of US planes at Shannon Airport. Minister Ahern said, "the gardaí must have a reasonable suspicion before they can enter a premises". Deputy Ó Snodaigh described this as "a significant and welcome move away from the Government's previous position where they claimed the Gardaí could not board planes without significant evidence."

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The gardaí should investigate these flights by boarding them and ensuring that available evidence is obtained and passed on to the DPP.

"Does the Minister agree we have an obligation under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which this State ratified in 2002, to actively seek to prevent any activity that may contribute to torture? If we are party to this convention, it is logical that we investigate these flights. The Government should direct the Garda Síochána to seek evidence based on the suspicions of Members of this House, the Council of Europe, journalists and reputable organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

In response to a charge of being anti-American by the Minister he said, "I am not being anti-American. My arguments relate to extraordinary rendition, which is a breach of international law."

Speaking later Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed the Minister's response saying, "Although the Minister tried to avoid my question by referring to a completely different matter using his usual anti-republican bile I am quite happy that the he said 'reasonable suspicion' is enough for the Gardaí to seek a warrant to enter a premises.

"This a significant and welcome move away from the Government's previous position where they claimed the Gardaí could not board planes without significant evidence.

"Surely the suspicions of Members of this House, the Council of Europe, journalists and reputable organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch constitute 'reasonable suspicion' and therefore these planes should now be searched by the Gardaí." ENDS

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