[Sinn Fein]

4th February 2003

Government accused of using army to intimidate anti-war campaigners

Speaking at a press conference organised by Ogra Shinn Fein against the war on Iraq Sinn Fein spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has slammed the proposed use of the Irish Army for duty at Shannon Airport as an act of ``intimidation'' designed to frustrate the anti-war effort in Ireland and to defend the breaching of Irish neutrality. Praising the efforts of young people in showing their opposition to the war and the use of Shannon Airport by the US military he said, ``Ógra Shinn Fein, the Peace Campers, and all other young anti-war activists should be commended for the courage of their convictions.''

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: ``It is always young people who lead the way and take the first stand against war and injustice. Young anti-war activists in this state and throughout the island, in America itself, and all over the world who are mobilising to stop this unjust war are to be commended for the courage of their convictions. This government has grossly underestimated the breadth and depth of Irish and international opposition to this impending war.

``It is incredible that the Cabinet is this morning considering the deployment of Irish troops against Irish citizens to protect foreign war planes. Such intimidation of the anti-war movement is unacceptable.''

Commenting on yesterday events at Shannon Airport he said, ``it is wrong to characterise the actions of these protestors as violent. They were purely symbolic. Nobody was harmed. Trevor Sargent has described the incidents as regrettable. What is regrettable is that these activists felt compelled to resort to such direct actions because their own government is not listening, and refuses to acknowledge that opposition to this war is growing. There is nothing wrong in a campaign of civil disobedience if those engaged in it are morally justified in doing so.

``The real wrong in all of this is that the Government is pursuing a policy against the wishes of the people of this state and in violation of the Constitution and the laws of this land. It is a policy that the Taoiseach himself acknowledges is all about money and not principle. Put simply Irish neutrality and an independent foreign policy are being exchanged for 40% of the business of Shannon Airport. Irish wages are to be paid for with the blood of innocent Iraqi men, women and children. That is the real crime in all of this - not some minor damage to a plane that shouldn't even be here in the first place.''

Commenting further on the fact that the Dáil is today considering new legislation under which yesterday's protesters could be charged as terrorists the Dublin South Central TD went on to say, ``Sinn Fein will be opposing the new Terrorist Offences Bill as a draconian piece of legislation that is being rushed through the Dáil with undue haste.'' ENDS

Sinn Fein Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Tel: +353-1-8726100 and +353-1-8726839   ·   Fax +353-1-8733074
E-mail: sfpress@eircom.net   ·   Website: http://www.sinnfein.org

Sinn Fein   ·   Sinn Fein Documents