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TD meets with Gardai to discuss CIA flights through Shannon

11 April, 2006

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh today met with senior Gardai to discuss possible investigations into the use of Shannon Airport for so-called 'rendition' flights by the US government. The meeting followed the presentation of a 'book of evidence' by the Dublin South Central TD to the Gardai earlier this year which outlined the concerns raised by a number of bodies and individuals about these flights.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It emerged over the weekend that the US used an Irish airport to facilitate the sale of helicopter gun-ships to Israel.

The landing of a plane carrying the helicopters was apparently sanctioned by the Department of Transport on the basis that the plane would only land on its return and would be empty. However, the plane landed on both its outward and home bound journeys and was carrying a military cargo on both in direct contravention of the terms of the permission offered. It should be noted that helicopter gun-ships are often employed by the Israelis to carry out extra judicial killings in Palestine and have been responsible for the deaths of many Palestinian children.

"In light of this development it is clear that the assurances of the US in relation to military flights through Shannon cannot be trusted and it demonstrates the urgent need for this government to take active steps to bring an end to Irish complicity in the crimes of the US.

"Today I met with senior Gardai to discuss the issue of extraordinary rendition and to give them more material detailing the link between the CIA flights and Shannon airport. The Gardai told me that they do not have the power to search the planes identified in media reports and by highly reputable international human rights bodies as being involved in the United States' illegal rendition programme. That is a totally unsatisfactory catch-22 situation whereby the Gardai are saying they need the type of evidence they may find on a plane to get permission to search a plane in the first place. It is absolutely ludicrous.

"I would like to echo the calls from the Council of Europe and more recently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in urging the government to make the granting of permissions for any planes that may be linked to the CIA operations to use Irish airspace or airports subject to a capacity for An Garda Siochana to randomly search these planes. This is not an unreasonable request." ENDS

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