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Ongoing use of Shannon Airport by US military a shameful travesty - Ó Snodaigh

15 March, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD is today joining a number of members of the Houses of the Oireachtas in a protest in Shannon Airport. The group of Oireachtas members are part of a wider group of anti-war activists who are protesting at the continued use of Shannon Airport by the US military on their way to participate in conflicts in the Middle East. Deputy Ó Snodaigh described the permission granted to the US by the Irish Government as an "ongoing and shameful travesty" which he said, "directly contravened any pretence of neutrality that this state thinks it has".

Speaking as he flew to Shannon from Dublin Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I was part of a protest at this Airport over a year ago. Since then we have seen from official figures that the number of US military personnel using this facility increase at a staggering rate. And while that figure is on the increase so too does the carnage in Iraq seem to grow on an almost daily basis. Eighty-five people, mostly civilians were killed in Iraq yesterday. This is the reality of the US led occupation of Iraq -- civilians have been paying with their lives in the tens of thousands since the war began. The Government of the state cannot wash its hands of responsibility for this unjustified and completely unnecessary slaughter. Blood money is not an excuse -- there are no excuses for this ongoing and shameful travesty. The stance of our Government ministers, from Defence to Justice and across the board is one that I am certain is directly at odds with the views of the majority of people on this island. It is certainly in direct contravention of any pretence of neutrality that this state thinks it has.

"The US led war on Iraq is a war that was based on grotesque lies. Unfortunately they are similar lies that are now being promulgated about Iraq's neighbour Iran. Anti-war activists around the world foretold that this is what would happen.

"But this protest we are engaged in today is not only about the use of Shannon Airport to ferry thousands of US troops to conflict in the Middle East, it is also about the failure of the Irish government to properly address and investigate the serious allegations that the airport is being used by the CIA to facilitate its practice of kidnapping people from around the world and transporting them illegally for detention and torture. This practice known as "extraordinary rendition" is a clear violation of basic human rights. For the Irish Government to willingly turn a blind eye or bury its head in the sand is the same as being an active participant in the process. To have any credibility in relation to respect for international law and human rights the Irish government must immediately suspend any further use of Irish Airports and airspace by the US military and intelligence agencies." ENDS

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