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Shannon airport must be closed to US military – Ó Caoláin

29 November, 2006

Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to explain the government's claim to have a policy of neutrality while making Shannon Airport available as a staging post for the war in Iraq.

He said, "Tánaiste you will recall that the Irish Human Rights Commission was established under the Good Friday Agreement to help to enhance the rights of everyone who lives on this island and to meet our international obligations to human rights. As Minister for Justice you have more often than not chosen to ignore the advice of the Commission.

"You and your colleagues cannot continue to ignore the Commission in relation to the scandalous use of Shannon Airport as a staging post for the US and British led war in Iraq. The practice of taking on trust everything you are told by the US government about the throughput of military and CIA sponsored aircraft and personnel through Shannon must also cease.

"The EU Committee to investigate so-called 'extraordinary renditions' has found that this State hosted 147 secret CIA flights - the third highest number among EU states. Tánaiste you must explain how your Government can claim to have a policy of neutrality and to be sovereign and independent in international affairs when you make Shannon Airport available as a staging post for the war in Iraq and when you turn a blind eye to the uses these US aircraft are put to.

"The invasion of Iraq has been an unqualified disaster costing tens of thousands of lives and plunging that country into civil war and it was launched on the totally erroneous pretext of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The war policy of the Bush administration has been comprehensively rejected by the people of the United States yet this Government persists in facilitating that war through the use of Shannon by the US military and the CIA.

"You must end that policy now. Or, if you will not close Shannon to the US military and the CIA, you must at least carry out inspections of their planes landing at Shannon to ensure that further breaches of international law and human rights are not taking place on Irish soil." ENDS

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