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Government complicity in arms trade one part of morally bankrupt foreign policy – Ó Snodaigh

22 January, 2007

Sinn Féin's International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, responding to reports that Ireland's international arms trade may be worth as much as €1 billion, said it was no surprise that the Government has ignored the problem. Pointing to the systematic undermining of Irish neutrality, and the Government's complicity in the invasion of Iraq, he said any proposed legislation to deal with the issue would 'only be as sound as the foreign policies' of the Government.'

The Dublin South-Central TD said: "Sinn Féin called for the introduction of a Military and Dual-Use Export Control Act in our Positive Neutrality in Action policy document in 2004. Three years ago a Forfás report identified the need for urgent regulatory reform. Yet it should surprise no-one that the current Government, having thrown Irish neutrality to the wind and collaborated with the invasion of Iraq, should have ignored the problem.

"It has been stated that an objective of the proposed Control of Exports Bill will be to prevent dual-use goods from falling into the hands of 'rogue regimes' through the use of inspectors. However I would question whether the current Government's understanding of a rogue regime will be adequate. Under this Government permission has been granted for the transport of weapons through Shannon to countries with notorious human rights records such as Indonesia and Israel.

"I would also question the commitment of this Government to preventing Irish complicity in human rights violations, given that it was happy to grant €750,000 in funding through Enterprise Ireland to a Dublin-based company with a contract to develop equipment for the US Airforce.

"The failure of this government to act on the demands of bodies like Amnesty International is absolutely unacceptable. Yet again the Government is promising that new legislation is imminent just as they did in August 2006. However the impact of the proposed legislation, if it ever appears, will only be as sound as the foreign policies of the governing parties."


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