[Sinn Fein]

4 June 2002

US Air Force allowed to train in Irish airspace

Irish government neutrality commitment ``a big lie'' - Ó Caoláin

The leader of the Sinn Fein group in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as ``a big lie'' the Irish government's supposed commitment to military neutrality. He was commenting on the admission by the Department of Foreign Affairs that they gave the United States Air Force permission to carry out a training exercise for four days over the weekend off the south-west coast of Ireland involving two C-130 planes flying from Shannon. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The Government has driven another nail in the coffin of Irish military neutrality. What international credibility can that neutrality have now that the US Air Force has been given full permission to carry out training exercises in Irish airspace? This disgraceful decision shows that the Irish government's supposed commitment to neutrality is a big lie.

``The abandonment of neutrality to the US and to the developing EU military structures demonstrates the real value any token `declaration' on neutrality will have if it is used as a device to secure passage of the Nice Treaty in the Referendum Mark 2. I and my four Sinn Fein colleagues in the new Dáil will be seeking broad support for legislation to enshrine neutrality in the Constitution.''

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