Sinn Féin welcomes possible recall of Dáil
Responding to reports that the Dáil may be recalled to discuss the deployment of Irish troops as part of a UN peacekeeping force, Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD welcomed the suggestion from Minister Dermot Ahern. He warned however that deploying UN forces in south Lebanon was insufficient when no similar force was to be deployed in northern Israel.
The Dublin South Central TD said: "If there is a contribution that the Irish people can make to ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East, and the Lebanese government are supportive, then I believe we have a duty to seriously consider such a commitment. I welcome the willingness of the Government to give serious consideration to this proposal and Sinn Féin would support the recall of the Dáil to discuss this.
"But the reality is that deploying UN forces in the south of Lebanon alone is clearly insufficient. It is Israel who invaded Lebanon. It is Israel who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians and the destruction of that nation's infrastructure. It is Israeli aggression, its continued occupation of part of southern Lebanon, and of Palestine, and its continued detention of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners, that is at the heart of the tensions in the Middle East.
"Sinn Féin has said from the start that UN forces should be obliged to ensure a demilitarised zone south of the Israeli border to prevent possible, indeed probable, future Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians. The presence of armed and hostile Israeli forces on the Lebanese border will be a constant threat both to the people of Lebanon, and to any UN force deployed in the region.
"Four UN observers died during the most recent Lebanese invasion, and just over 25 years ago Privates Barrett and Smallhorn of the Irish Defence Forces were executed by Israeli surrogates. There are therefore, substantial risks, and an element of caution is required, but we would support the recall of the Dáil to give this matter the consideration it is due."