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McDowell must tell EU Parliament what he knows about allegations of CIA rendition flights through Irish Airports

15 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today encouraged the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to "give a full and frank account" of what he knows about allegations of Irish airports being used illegally for the transport of prisoners.

Ms de Brún made her comments after it emerged that Minister McDowell has been called before a European Parliament Committee which was established to ascertain whether or not EU airports have been used by the CIA for the illegal transport of prisoners to third countries.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"These very serious allegations must be investigated thoroughly. If the allegations have any substance to them then it will raise very serious questions as to the complicity of member state governments in endorsing such a practice and I would therefore call upon Minister McDowell to give a full and frank account of his knowledge on this issue.

"It is my understanding from speaking with my colleagues in the Dáil, that the Minister for Justice has become very adept at dodging the issue in the house. In fact various government departments with responsibility for this issue including Foreign Affairs, Defence, Transport and Justice have colluded to pass the buck on the issue.

"I hope that the European Parliament committee which has been tasked to investigate alleged rendition flights will have more luck getting information from Minister McDowell than his colleagues in Leinster House.

"Serious concerns have been raised regarding the use of Shannon Airport for such a practice by various human rights groups who had identified the airport as possibly being involved in the transportation of prisoners by the CIA to locations where they may be subjected to torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.

"It is essential that Minister McDowell provides whatever information he has at his disposal to assist this committee in their investigations. He cannot be allowed to hide behind any Irish/US agreements on confidentiality so he can avoid presenting information to the committee." ENDS

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