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Mary Lou McDonald questions usefulness of Dermot Ahern,s attendance at CIA flights hearing

22 September, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today questioned the relevance of Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern's presence at a committee set up to investigate Ireland‚s alleged involvement in the process of extraordinary rendition flights.

Ms McDonald made her comments after it emerged that Dermot Ahern had been invited to attend the European Parliament's hearing allegations of the illegal transportation of prisoners by the CIA to secret detention centres throughout Europe.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Minister Ahern is on record as saying that the government is opposed to the process of extraordinary rendition and this is to be welcomed. However, verbal opposition is not enough. The Minister may very well be opposed to this practice but a Council of Europe report names 14 European Countries identified with the practice - of which Ireland is one of them.

"This raises questions the usefulness of Minister Ahern‚s testimony to the European Parliament committee set up to investigate this matter. Given the refusal by Irish authorities to investigate allegations of Irish involvement in extraordinary rendition, Minister Ahern is likely to sit in front of the committee unable to answer many of their questions.

"Given the blind eye turned by the Irish authorities to these serious allegations, Mr Ahern's presence is likely to be an irrelevant public relations exercise on behalf of the government.

"The Council of Europe has previously identified Ireland as a stop-over point for CIA planes, many of which are associated with the illegal transportation of prisoners to third countries and this government, including the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Transport and Justice have become adept at passing the buck on this issue.

"We need a commitment from this government that the Irish authorities will investigate all future flights connected with CIA and the United States military." ENDS

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