[Sinn Fein]

13th February 2003

Preventing war is common responsibility

``Everyone has a part to play'' - Ó Snodaigh

At a Sinn Fein antiwar press conference attended by the party President Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein's five TDs from Leinster House, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:

``Having refused to consult either the Dáil or the Irish people on its policy of participation in war preparation, through its complicity the Dublin Government now bears personal responsibility for the outcome of this war. The Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Transport Minister in particular must acknowledge that by their executive decision to assist the war effort they have directly contributed to the imminent humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq.

``The evidence is clear and the risk cannot be overstated. As a result of war, ongoing bombing raids, and sanctions, the Iraqi and Kurdish people are more vulnerable than ever. Experts are warning of a grave humanitarian disaster in the event of a new war. Iraq currently has only one month's supply of food and three month's supply of medicines. The UN estimates that in the event of war, half a million Iraqis and Kurds could require emergency medical treatment, yet their medicine supplies would only last 3-4 weeks from the renewal of conflict.

``16 million people are 100% dependent on government distributed food rations. If a new war breaks out, this distribution system will be disrupted, leading to food shortages, malnutrition, and starvation. The UN estimates that a new war could lead to more than 1.4 million refugees, and as many as 2 million internally displaced persons. Despite the Government's culpability, even now it is not too late for them to take decisive action to prevent this war, and we appeal to them to do so.

``It is Sinn Fein's position that the Government's active support of war preparations is contrary to the law, the Constitution, our international obligations as a neutral power, and the wishes of the majority of the Irish people. As republicans committed to the peaceful resolution of conflict through negotiations in our own country, we firmly believe that there are alternatives to war in this case. Therefore, in keeping with our responsibility as republicans, since early September Sinn Fein has been pressing for an immediate end to the Government's policy of war complicity.

``We will continue to demand the immediate cessation of military overflights and landings by foreign powers preparing for or participating in war, and we know that this Saturday we will be joined by thousands more from across the 32 counties.

``Sinn Fein is proud to be part of a growing global anti-war movement. Our participation is wholly consistent with republican politics of anti-imperialism, positive neutrality, and commitment to demilitarisation.

``While it is important to hold the Government accountable for their role and responsibility, and while Sinn Fein must acknowledge and uphold our own responsibility to do all we can to prevent this war, I want to also state clearly that ALL citizens have a common responsibility to stand up and be counted. It is the responsibility of every person on this island who opposes this war - and this Government's complicity in it - to vote with their feet on February 15. Everyone has their own part to play, and I look forward to playing mine this Saturday.'' ENDS

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