Sinn Féin’s Dublin South East Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, has
welcomed the news, "that the hunger strike in St Patrick’s Cathedral by
Afghani asylum seekers has ended without loss of life."
Speaking tonight, Cllr. Doolan said:
“I am very relieved at the fact that the hunger strike has ended with out loss of life. I had visited and spoken to the hunger strikers, their supporters and the church clergy on several occasions over the past number of days. I must congratulate all those who attempted to negotiate a peaceful and dignified conclusion to this difficult situation. I particularly commend the the clergy in St Patrick’s Cathedral for allowing the men to seek sanctuary there since Sunday evening last.
It is now vital to ensure that nobody seeking asylum in our country ever feels they have to go on hunger or thirst strike again to have their cases highlighted. Those seeking asylum in our country must feel that the process is just, humane and transparent.”
In conclusion Cllr. Doolan called on the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform, Michael McDowell, “to immediately set about reviewing the men’s cases, taking into consideration the escalation in violence in Afghanistan, and if there is any threat to these men in Afghanistan then none should be sent back.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Seán Crowe TD, has labelled the Minister for Transport’s new road safety initiative as a “cynical publicity stunt.”
Deputy Crowe said, “Martin Cullen’s new proposal of introducing a zero alcohol limit for first time drivers smacks of another cynical publicity stunt from the Minister. It is completely ridiculous to believe that alcohol solely impairs the ability to drive of first time drivers.
“The Minister needs to be consistent in his approach to road safety and apply safety measures that incorporate all drivers. While there is continuing carnage on our roads the Minister for Transport has responded with a proposal that essentially discriminates against first time drivers. Is the Minister now sending out a subliminal message that he believes experienced drivers can handle their drink better than first time drivers?”
“It is not just the mix of alcohol and first time drivers that is a recipe for tragedy.
“I would urge the Minister to scrap this illogical proposal and concentrate on introducing a comprehensive policy of ensuring that drink driving and road slaughter in general is reduced by ensuring all drivers drive responsibly.” ENDS
With comments in Leinster House over the week exposing serious strains in the Coalition over the proposed sale of Aer Lingus, Sinn Féin’s campaign against the airline’s privatisation continues this week with a picket at Dublin Airport roundabout at 3pm tomorrow, Saturday, and a public meeting in Swords at the Carnegie Court Hotel on Tuesday the 23rd of March at 7.30pm.
Speaking ahead of the protest Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Seán Crowe TD said: “Sinn Féin activists in north Dublin have been holding fortnightly pickets at Dublin Airport for two months now and we have distributed about 40,000 newsletters across the northside of Dublin. The response from local people has been tremendous and it should be evident to all that there is a growing mood against privatisation.
“Local authorities across Dublin have backed Sinn Féin motions opposing the sale of the airline and we have worked with SIPTU, whose national industrial secretary Mick Halpenny will address our public meeting on Tuesday night, to maximise the political strength that can be brought to bear on this issue. I would call on people to take part in the protests and to support the public meeting on Tuesday night.” ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP will tomorrow
address a European conference on Sellafield and tell participants that
‘it remains the most discredited nuclear facility in all of Western
Europe’. Ms de Brún made her comments as the Sinn Féin European
department prepares to hold a half day conference entitled “Sellafield
– Still a Danger” on Saturday 20th May ’06 in the Fairways Hotel,
Dublin Road, Dundalk from 10am to 1.30pm.
Among the speakers who will be taking part in the conference are Mr Lennart Varmby, Board Member Swedish Energy Agency, Cllr George Regan, Scottish Vice-chair Nuclear Free Local Authorities, member of Dundee City Council (Scottish Labour) and Ms Rea Street, Vice Chairperson, CND Britain.
Speaking on the eve of the conference Ms de Brún said:
“It is deeply ironic that as we prepare to gather for a conference to highlight the dangers of Sellafield and plan for its closure, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair is putting nuclear power back onto the agenda with plans to build a new generation of nuclear plants across Britain.
“The British Government cannot even safely control their current stock of nuclear facilities and it seems ludicrous that Tony Blair can tell us that nuclear is back on the agenda “with a vengeance.” Sellafield in Cumbria, North Western England remains the most discredited nuclear facility in Western Europe. Over this past number of years there has been a litany of safety lapses which would embarrass even Homer Simpson.
“In recent years an annual audit (2004) of nuclear material at the Sellafield plant revealed that 30 kilograms of plutonium remain unaccounted for. That same year the European Commission initiated legal proceedings against the British Government for its failure to comply with EU inspection rules on nuclear waste. When EU inspectors went to survey a pond at the plant they were unable to gain access to it due to high levels of radiation and poor visibility.
“This facility needs to be shut down immediately. Were a more serious incident to occur, the ramifications for Ireland and much of Britain would be catastrophic. Tomorrows conference provides us with an opportunity to build a sustained campaign against Sellafield.” ENDS
Note to Editor:
Bairbre De Brún, MEP will chair the session “Why Sellafield Must Close” and Arthur Morgan TD will chair the session “How to organise for the closure of Sellafied”. Other speakers will include Caitriona Ruane MLA for South Down and Louth County Councillor Tomás Sharkey.
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Barry Mc Elduff says that the strength of opposition
to Rural Planning guidelines (PPS 14) was clearly evident after 200 people
turned up at a public meeting organised by the party at the Dún Uladh
Centre in Omagh last night.
The meeting, the latest in a series of such public meetings Sinn Féin is holding throughout the north was chaired by Barry Mc Elduff and addressed by local MP Pat Doherty, the Chair of Omagh District Council Mickey Mc Anespie, Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Clarke, and Damien Mc Gennity, Co-ordinator of the Working Group set up by Sinn Féin to fight the proposals.
Following the meeting Barry Mc Elduff said,
"At themeeting, speaker after speaker outlined the disastrous consequences for every aspect of rural life if the DRD gets its way and imposes these punitive Rural Planning Guidelines in their current format.
"After listening to the debate and the disastrous implications for the cohesion of rural communities one man said to me that these Rural Planning Guidelines are akin to rural genocide and I would have to agree.
"Therefore the "Competency" of those within the Department of Regional Development (DRD) who have imposed this dictate even before a consultation has taken place must be called into question. It is clear that PPS 14 is a solo run by the DRD given that it contradicts not only EU policy but also the policy direction of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Environment.
"Lord Rooker's replacement David Cairns has now responsibility for DRD, DARD and the DoE so when Sinn Féin's five MP's meet with him shortly they will be challenging him to withdraw these disastrous solo run proposals and in a joined up approach between these departments bring forward proposals which can strike the right balance between environmental sustainability and protection of the way of life.
"Given that from March 16th of this year it was decreed by Lord Rooker that PPS 14 would supersede all previous Rural Planning Guidelines, there will be much cynicism about the genuineness of DRD's subsequent consultation process.
"However, already over 2,000 people have made submissions to the consultation and last night we appealed for every sector of the rural community and every individual who feels strongly about the issue to make their views known to the DRD before the 9th June.
"As well as public meetings throughout the north, Sinn Féin has met the Ulster Council of the GAA, the Rural Development Council to name but a few and our own consultations will help in the formulation of our own submission to the Consultation Process as well as help shape our alternative proposals.
"From last night's meeting it is clear that there is a determination to face down these draconian proposals and along with the community we will be pulling out every stop between now and the 9th June to make sure this is the case. ENDS
Republicans throughout Ireland will this weekend mark the 25th Anniversary of the deaths on Hunger Strike of IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh and INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara.
A weekend of commemorative events will take place in South Armagh culminating in a parade on Sunday from Newry to Raymond McCreesh’s graveside in Camlough. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will address the commemoration.
In Derry a parade will make its way from the Bogside Inn to Patsy O’Hara’s former home in Bishop Street were a mural and plaque will be unveiled.
Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy today urged people to attend the events.
Mr Murphy said:
“Raymond McCreesh was from my hometown of Camlough. This weekend Republicans from South Armagh and beyond will come together in Camlough for a weekend of events to remember Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara who died 25 years ago in the H-Blocks.
“In Derry Republican will gather to pay tribute to INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara.
“I would encourage people to attend the events and send out a clear message to those who still haven’t learnt the lessons of 1981 and still seek to try and criminalise the Republican struggle. The events of 1981 were a watershed moment for the Republican struggle and the sacrifices made by the men in Long Kesh and the women in Armagh Jail remain with us to this day.”
Main commemorative events this weekend.
Hunger Strike exhibition in Shane O’Neills GAA Club Camlough all weekend.
7pm - Unveiling of plaque and mural at Raymond McCreesh’s home
8pm - Lecture by former PoWs and DVD launch in Marquee, Shane O’Neills club
1pm - parade to commence from Edward Street car park Newry to make its way to Camlough
3pm - mass in Carrickcruppin Church followed by commemoration at Raymond McCreesh’s graveside. Main speaker Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams
Parade will leave the Bogside Inn at 2.30pm to parade to Patsy O’Hara’s former home at Bishop Street were a mural and plaque will be unveiled.
7pm - Video launch and lecture involving former PoWs in Culturlann
1pm - Raymond McCreesh/Patsy O’Hara Cup, O’Donnells GAA pitch.
3pm - St Mary‘s college - ‘Talk Back’ - the legacy of the Hunger Strike. Involving Danny Morrison, former Hunger Strikers Bernard Fox and Pat Sheehan and former Armagh prisoner Mary McConville. Chaired by former Blanketman Fra McCann.
Black Flag Vigils will take place at 2pm across Belfast.
Friday 19th May
8.30pm - Vigil at the Tadhg an Astraa Monument in Cork City
7pm - Vigil Ballincolig
Sunday 21st May
Vigils 12 noon - Driminagh Road; Kylemore Roundabout and Dolphins Barn Bridge
Friday 19th May
5.30pm - Vigil Drogheda Bridge.
Saturday 20th May
1pm - Vigil Market Square Dundalk.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment and Workers Rights, Arthur Morgan T.D., has described as "deeply disturbing" the revelation, in reply to a parliamentary question from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, that there was a five fold increase in the number of employers found to be in breach of both annual leave entitlements and public holiday entitlements.
Deputy Morgan said, "I asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for details regarding the number of instances identified by the Labour Inspectorate of employers denying workers their statutory holiday entitlements.
"The Minister revealed that in 2005 89 employers were found to be in breach of public holiday entitlements compared to 17 in 2003. He also revealed that 40 employers were found to be in breech of annual leave entitlements in 2005 compared to 8 in 2003. This represents a five fold increase in both cases and is deeply disturbing.
"These figures cannot be put down to increased vigilance from the labour inspectorate in light of the fact that there were only 5,719 inspections in 2005 compared to 7,168 in 2003.
"It is clear that the failure of enforcement and compliance mechanisms is sending a message to employers that they can do what they like. Employers are clearly taking advantage of the weak enforcement regime and this cannot be allowed to continue. Enforcement mechanisms must be effective in promoting a high level of compliance with employment rights legislation if the erosion of worker rights is to be halted. More resources and staff must be made available to the labour inspectorate. Penalties for non compliance must be increased so that they represent a real deterrent to this type of behaviour from exploitative employers." ENDS
Dáil Question and reply follows...
DAIL QUESTION - NO.144
To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of instances identified by the Labour Inspectorate of employers denying workers their statutory holiday entitlements in 2005 and in each of the previous five years.
- Arthur Morgan.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 18th May, 2006.
Ref No: 18897/06
R E P L Y
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Killeen)
The Organisation of Working Time Act makes provision for holiday entitlements in respect of most employees. Employees who have been denied their statutory holiday entitlement under the Act have a right of complaint to a Rights Commissioner.
Holiday entitlements of employees in certain categories of employment are determined by the provisions contained in Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements, which are enforced by the Labour Inspectorate.
The number of instances identified by the Labour Inspectorate of employers in breach of public holiday and annual holiday provisions for the years 2003 to 2005 are set out in the attached tabular statement. The statistics in respect of the years 2001 and 2002 are not available.
Year Breach of public holiday provisions Breach of annual holiday provisions
2003 17 8
2004 57 32
2005 89 40
Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Daithí Doolan has voiced his deep concern at the decision to cordon off the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral this morning and to place about 40 Gardaí at church entrances. He called for the heavy Garda presence to be withdrawn immediately.
Speaking from the area this morning, Councillor Doolan said:
"I am deeply concerned at the developments this morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The decision to cordon off the area and to introduce a heavy Garda presence is entirely unnecessary and will do nothing but complicate an already difficult situation. It is also worrying that the men are now being refused visitors.
“This is a serious humanitarian situation which the government needs to
address properly. Heavy handed interventions such as those witnessed
this morning are certainly not the way to resolve the plight of these men.
"I am calling on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to intervene personally in this matter and to review the mens cases to take fully into account what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment. If there is any threat to their safety or lives then they should not be sent back to Afghanistan.”ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice issues Gerry Kelly today welcomed the decision by the UIS House of Representatives to demand an independent inquiry into the murder of Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane.
Mr Kelly said:
"Since the murder of Pat Finucane and the obvious involvement of the British State in it, successive British governments have sought to frustrate the search for the truth. The culture of concealment remains to this day.
"The British government need to realise that the demand by the Finucane family for the truth will not simply disappear. The current legislation under which the British government are planning to conduct the inquiry will frustrate the search for justice.
"The decision by the House of Representatives to endorse the position of the Finucane family in opposition to the British proposals is an important step and very much places the British government in the dock.
"Tony Blair needs to honour the public commitments he made at Weston Park to establish a fully independent international inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane." ENDS
Commenting after the High Court in Belfast ruled in favour of the Garvaghy Road residents in their judicial review concerning appointments to the Parades Commission, Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd today said that Peter Hain's arrogant approach had undermined public confidence in the Commission.
Speaking outside the High Court Mr O'Dowd said:
"The High Court today ruled that Peter Hain in his haste to appoint members of the Orange Order to the Parades Commission ignored the basic procedures which need to be followed in relation to appointments to public bodies. This judgement is a damning indictment on Peter Hain‚s management of this issue.
"Peter Hain has managed to undermine public confidence in the Parades Commission and has made their already hard job all the more difficult. This judicial review was not about David Burrows the individual it was about the manner in which the British government went about appointing the new Parades Commission.
"There now remains a massive job of work for both the British government and the Parades Commission to rebuild public trust in their ability to deliver in a fair and impartial fashion. I t is my belief that two new independent commissioners need to be appointed by following the correct procedures." ENDS
Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has urged Families and Friends of undocumented Irish people in the USA to support the "Irish Voices" campaign to sway US political opinion for undocumented Irish. The campaign was launched today and aims to collect real life stories of the undocumented and their families and friends who live an under constant threat of being deported.
Speaking after attending the launch of the campaign Deputy Crowe said, "The situation for the approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US has been a cause for continual concern for Sinn Féin. Our concerns centre around the vulnerability of such a large group of isolated Irish people and in particular their inability to return home for visits, holidays, weddings or even funerals due to a fear of not been allowed back into America where they have built their lives
"On behalf of Sinn Féin I would like to welcome this new campaign and I would urge as many people as possible to come forward with their stories of the undocumented and their families and friends. I would also urge all those living in the US to step up their support the Irish Lobby for Immigration reform, to lobby their local Congressmen and Senators to sway US political opinion in favour of the undocumented Irish." ENDS
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has called on Minister Mary Coughlan to intervene in order to ensure that the Irish sugar sector is maintained despite the attitude of Greencore. He also called on her to meet with the workers from the Mallow plant to whom Greencore are refusing to pay the agreed severance pay. Deputy Ferris raised the issue as a priority question in the Dáil this afternoon.
Deputy Ferris said: "Last week the Minister commented on suggestions that the Mallow plant could be used for the production of biofuels by stating that it was a matter for Greencore. Does she accept that this company -- which presided over the destruction of probably the most successful indigenous industry in this state, with the loss of hundreds of direct jobs and several thousand others in ancillary businesses, not to mention the thousands of beet producers, should have the final say in this?
"Does she not believe that this state, as the former owner on behalf of the people, of Irish Sugar, and as the holder of a so-called golden share, ought to intervene to ensure that Greencore does a bit more in order to retain the beet sector and processing facilities? Or does she believe that the company has the right to walk away with the largest share of the compensation fund at the expense of the beet producers and workers?
"The Minister must, given her responsibility in the matter, agree to meet with the workers from Mallow and ensure that Greencore honours the agreement on severance pay. It is totally unacceptable that a company that stands to benefit massively from what basically amounts to the asset stripping of a former public company be allowed treat it former employees in this manner." ENDS
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD described the Higher Education Authority (HEA) report on Who Went to College in 2004 as "an excellent guide to who is and who isn't benefiting from Governmental policies in the 26 Counties today. Speaking in Leinster House today Deputy Crowe said the report has "clear evidence of a growing social apartheid in Ireland."
He said, "The HEA report on Who Went to College in 2004 is a welcome addition to enhancing our understanding of societal change and trends in Ireland. It is also important because reports like these are an excellent guide to who is and isn't benefiting from governmental polices in the 26 Counties today.
"So we should welcome the rise in the number of leaving certificate students moving on to third level education, particularly the increase from 20% in 1980 to 60% in 2004, and it is also a positive that the representation of lower income households in Irish colleges has increased.
"However, for my party and the constituents I represent, we must go further and ask is access to third level education finally becoming fairer and truly representative of all social groups?
"To me it seems that the answer is a firm 'No' coming from some of the findings from the ESRI/HEA report.
"It seems that when you consider the data from this report alongside the findings of the CSO EU Survey on Income and Living conditions and the Quarterly National Household Survey you find clear evidence of a growing social apartheid in Ireland that is rooted in the quality of housing, where you live and the quality of education you receive and have access to.
"There is a 80-20 or maybe even a 70-30 society in Ireland today where up to 30% of the population are suffering deprivation, and are paid low wages because they are unskilled, exploited and without adequate education for the demands of the modern labour market.
"It is not only about access for people from this background but it is also about support mechanisms for people from this background and this is the area where greater resources and greater emphasis needs to be placed." ENDS
Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, today accused the leaders of Fine Gael and Labour of deliberately insulting the entire population of the Six Counties by continually blocking northern representation in the Dáil. Deputy Ó Caoláin made his comments during discussions in the Dáil about the upcoming visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard to Leinster House. Mr. Howard is to address the Dáil on Tuesday next.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Last week the Dáil, sitting as a Committee of the whole House, accommodated the presence and participation of a visiting EU Commissioner, an unelected voice of the European Union. Next Tuesday, we will hear an address by Mr. John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia. Both of these events have been and will be facilitated and supported by the leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour Parties. When will these two parties recognise the insult they have delivered to over 1.5 million people in the Six Counties whose chosen Members of Parliament they have blocked from receiving the same accommodation as was accorded to Commissioner Fischer Boel?"Speaking afterwards the Cavan/Monaghan TD said, "The hypocrisy of both Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte is breathtaking. They have no problem whatsoever facilitating access to Dáil speaking opportunities to non-elected representatives of the European Commission nor to representatives of another country but yet they have still set themselves steadfastly against allowing the elected representatives of Irish people, living on the island of Ireland the same opportunity. It is a shameful position to hold which not only makes a mockery of Fine Gael's claim to be the United Ireland Party but also Labour's claim to the legacy of James Connolly." ENDS
Sinn Féin TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that the series of devastating gun and bomb attacks in Afghanistan last night, which left more than sixty civilians, policemen, soldiers and rebels' dead, gave lie to the Minister for Justices' claims that the country was only suffering some "disturbances". Rejecting the Ministers claims which were made on Monday last Deputy Ó Snodaigh said he needs to "take his head out of the sand and take note of the reality on the ground".
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "In rejecting the protesters at St Patricks Cathedral's demand for asylum the Minister last Monday claimed that Afghanistan was only suffering from what he called "disturbances" and so by extension dismissed off-hand the notion of any threat to the life or safety of the men protesting should they be returned.
"However, the reality on the ground in Afghanistan is much different. Only last night over 60 civilians, policemen, soldiers and rebels were killed in a number of engagements between opposing forces. These attacks happened in a number of different areas of the country. The Minister needs to take his head out of the sand and take note of the reality on the ground when dealing with the Hunger Strikers at St Patricks Cathedral.
"The mens cases need to be reviewed to take fully in to account what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment. If there is any threat to their safety or lives then they should not be sent back to Afghanistan regardless of whether they fall into the strict Convention definition of a refugee or not.
"In light of last nights attacks I call on the Minister to declare Afghanistan an unsafe destination, as the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence have done by sending peacekeeping forces there. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform should also declare that nobody who fails his draconian asylum process will be returned to a war zone or an unsafe country. I doubt if Afghanistan even makes the dubious EU white list of safe countries. The Minister should meet the men. They are in his constituency, their case should be listened to and they should be granted the right to remain until, at the very least, the ongoing war in Afghanistan ends." ENDS
A senior Sinn Féin delegation including party general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, party Human Rights and Equality spokesperson Caitriona Ruane and West Belfast MLA Fra McCann will meet the Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive of the Equality Commission today, Thursday 18th May, 3.15pm in Belfast to voice serious concerns at the erosion of the Equality Agenda.
Speaking ahead of the meeting Ms Ruane said:
"Recent political decisions taken by the NIO and British direct Rule ministers raise very serious questions about their commitment to the equality agenda. Elements within the senior levels of the civil services are clearly attempting to bypass and therefore undermine the equality duty, which is a key component of the Good Friday Agreement.
"This has given rise to a number of policy decisions that will reinforce inequality and discrimination. Polices that have the potential to make the greatest impact on the ground are not being tested against the criteria that was designed to ensure that discrimination is comprehensively tackled.
"Sinn Féin are also concerned that the Equality Commission appears unwilling to raise concerns about the erosion of the equality agenda publicly with the British government.
"Sinn Féin have specific concerns about the attempt by British direct rule ministers to sectarianise poverty. This is unacceptable. Poverty must be approached on the basis of evidence and on objective need only, and not filtered through a unionist prism." ENDS
Sinn Féin National Director of Elections Pat Doherty MP today welcomed the decision of the Boundary Commission to abandon plans to form the proposed Antrim Coast and Glens constituency.
Mr Doherty said:
"When the original proposals for the Antrim Coast and Glens constituency were published we made our opposition known both publicly and privately to the Boundary Commission. There was no logic behind this proposal and I welcome the fact that the Commission has seen sense and accepted that this idea should be scrapped.
"The Boundary Commission has a vital role to play in ensuring that the political landscape in the six counties for so many years distorted by unionist gerrymandering is fair and delivers a level electoral playing field.
"Sinn Féin will study in detail today‚s report and we will make a detailed submission to the Commission at the conclusion of that process." ENDS
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon the Irish Government ‘to state definitively whether or not they facilitated the illegal transport of prisoners or aided the CIA agents involved in any way.’
Ms de Brún made her comments after a European Parliament Committee tasked to investigate allegations of US kidnappings and secret prison camps reported that a CIA source claimed that between 30 and 50 people have been subjected to this illegal practice.
Speaking today Ms de Brún said:
“Given the revelations that a number of people have been transferred through 'extraordinary rendition' in the EU and North Africa where people are illegally imprisoned and moved to torture centres in third countries, it is essential that the Irish Government state definitively whether or not they in any way aided or facilitated this process.
“There has been increasing speculation for many months that a number of European countries have allowed their airport facilities to be used by the CIA for the illegal transport of prisoners to third countries. Indeed, the European Parliament saw fit to set up a committee to investigate such allegations.
“The CIA officials who have confirmed the existence of such practices have stressed that in order for these rendition flights to take place would have required the complicity of European Governments. On the basis of this information, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell should give a full and frank account of whatever he may know in relation to this matter. Serious concerns have been raised by a number of human rights organisations that Shannon Airport may have been used to facilitate planes either after or before they embarked upon alleged kidnapping missions.
“Not only is the principle of Irish neutrality at stake in this issue, but the fundamental human rights of those who are alleged to have been transported to third countries are also at risk. This is too serious an issue for the Irish Government to remain silent on.” ENDS