[Sinn Fein]

18 September 2001

Statements on Atrocities in USA

Our response must be to make our peace process work - Ó Caoláin

Speaking in today's special Dáil debate on the atrocities in the USA Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

Déanaim comhbhrón le pobal na Stát Aontaithe ar an tubaiste milltineach i Nua Eabhrac agus Washington. Déanaim comhbhrón chomh maith leis na clanna sa tír seo a chaill daoine dhil agus le daoine a ghortaíodh.

I extend deepest sympathy to all those bereaved in the United States and in Ireland and those who have loved ones injured as a result of the appalling and catastrophic attacks on the cities of New York and Washington.

Families in Ireland have lost loved ones in these same attacks. Like fellow Deputies I have been contacted by distraught constituents who have yet to make contact with missing relatives. Such is the massive scale of the casualties that many more Irish families are likely to be bereaved in the days ahead.

Many of the New York Irish have been central to the peace process as I am well aware from my own visits to the United States on behalf of Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams told the Assembly in Belfast last week that one of the missing was an organiser of a lunch for the Friends of Sinn Fein at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre two years ago.

These devastating attacks were utterly reprehensible and I condemn them without reservation. The deliberate killing of civilians is always wrong whether it is armed political groups, governments or individuals who are responsible.

The tragedy of 11 September 2001 will be compounded if the desire for vengeance prevails and if more civilians die, be they the impoverished people of Kabul, Afghan refugees on the Pakistani border, Iraqi children or displaced Palestinians. In this international crisis the Irish government should maintain an independent and principled position based on human rights. The Irish government will be in a crucial position when it takes over the chair of the United Nations Security Council in October. I urge the government to resist any attempt by any member of the Security Council to use the United Nations as cover for aggression. A war of retaliation by the USA can only multiply the complex problems which gave rise to this disaster and bring death and destitution to thousands more people.

In the light of reported hostility to them in recent days we must express in a united way our solidarity with the Muslim community and the Arab community here in Ireland and set our faces against any attempts by the ignorant and the bigoted to scapegoat them.

I believe our most important response is to redouble our efforts to make the Irish peace process work. I roundly reject the shameful remarks of the Fine Gael leader who has endeavoured to turn this atrocity into a stick to beat Sinn Fein. The bullying of Deputy Noonan will not force Sinn Fein nor the greater number of Northern nationalists into acceptance of a flawed policing package. Rather, my colleagues in Sinn Fein and I have rededicated ourselves to resolving the very difficult outstanding problems. That is what all who genuinely wish to see a real and lasting peace in Ireland should now also address.

God bless all those who grieve at this time.

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