23rd October 2002
Sinn Fein calls on Government to strongly oppose war on Iraq
Speaking during statements on Iraq in the Dáil today Sinn Fein spokesperson on International Affairs and Defense, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
``Whenever political leaders contemplate aggressive military action, it is incumbent upon them - indeed, upon us all - to weigh the human consequences of these decisions.
``There can be no dispute that civilians in Iraq have suffered profound deprivation and hardship as a result of the last Gulf War and the ongoing sanctions. The UNICEF Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq found that sanctions have caused the deaths of 90,000 Iraqi people every year since the war. More than one million Iraqi children are now chronically malnourished - and malnutrition was not a problem in Iraq prior to the embargo.
``The Oil for Food plan has not reduced the widespread suffering. It has not provided the needed supplies in full, nor in a timely manner. It has not resulted in adequate protection of Iraq's children from malnutrition and disease.
``Several weeks ago an MRBI opinion poll showed that fully 59% of Irish people do not want another war on Iraq, and believe that Ireland should vote against any UN Security Council resolution authorising military action. These sentiments are being reflected around the world, as antiwar mobilisations in US are rivalling and beginning to surpass any resistance to the Vietnam War. There is a parallel growing resistance to this war in Britain, and the antiwar movement is also gathering support in this country.
``Given the high stakes of the crisis, the national importance of this issue, and the degree of public concern, Sinn Fein requested an urgent, full debate on this issue as our first order of business when the House reconvened nearly two months ago. This request was denied by the Government. The Oireachtas has still not properly debated this very crucial issue to this day.
``Instead, what we have is the ongoing use of Shannon airport as a pitstop on the way to war, on the basis of a Ministerial order. We have a Government that refuses to even consult with the Dáil, much less seek its approval on this issue - despite the concerns and objections that have been consistently raised in this House and outside of it.
``And today - despite last week's assurances by the Taoiseach that there would be a debate on this issue - today we have an anaemic round of `statements', following which the Government will likely continue to do as it pleases on this issue of critical national importance - in defiance of the both the Irish people and the Constitution. This is a disgrace.
``Sinn Fein again calls on the Irish Government to strongly oppose the launching of a new war against Iraq by the US and British governments. This Government must use all its political and diplomatic resources in the UN and EU to promote a peaceful solution. Ireland must use its role on Security Council to prevent this war, which if it goes ahead will destabilise the region.
``In keeping with our stance on neutrality, Sinn Fein also calls on the Irish Government to immediately cease the practice of giving permission to foreign states to refuel, resupply, and train military aircraft in Irish airports and Irish airspace, and to use Irish seaports for their naval vessels.
``Ultimately, Sinn Fein want to see multilateral nuclear disarmament - and indeed the standing down of all Weapons of Mass Destruction. We believe that this view is widely shared both in this House, and in Ireland as a whole. However, we firmly believe that another war on Iraq is most emphatically NOT the way to achieve this objective.''
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