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Ahern must extend banning of Guantanamo Express

1 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern to clarify comments he made to the European Parliament Special Committee investigating the role of EU member States in the United's States illegal rendition programme. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking today after Minister Ahern told the committee that the plane referred to as the Guantanamo Express has been banned from Irish airports.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The Minister must now clarify the date from which this ban has had effect? Why it is only now that we are hearing about the ban? Does the ban extend to the use of Irish airspace also? And crucially whether the ban is limited to this one particular plane? If that is the case then it is a fairly useless measure in terms of realising our obligation to prevent grave human rights abuses. It is essential that the government impose a ban on all CIA-related flights that might be involved in the rendition programme.

"A further question must be asked of the Minister, if the non-binding US assurances mean so much to him and his cabinet colleagues then why ban the plane from Irish airports? The government are unwilling to expose to the Irish public the extent of what they were aware of because they do not wish to offend 'the great Bush' as the Taoiseach fondly refers to him. And ultimately once exposed they know that the Irish people will be repulsed by their complicity. But the truth must be exposed. In line with my colleagues in the European Parliament I am calling for an independent inquiry to be established to examine the role of the Irish government and officials in all aspects of the illegal rendition programme and for this to be the subject of scrutiny by an All-Party Oireachtas Committee." ENDS

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