[Sinn Fein]

15th Saturday 2003

Massive rally sends clear anti-war message to Bertie Ahern

Speaking at todays massive ``No war on Iraq'' rally in Dublin Sinn Fein spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus O Snodaigh TD said it was one of the largest rallys he had seen since the 1980s Hunger Strike protests. It sent a very clear message to Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen that they were not acting in our name by assisting the US build up to war in the Middle East, he said.

Deputy O Snodaigh said:

``Todays massive turnout is surely the largest political protest I have seen in this city since the Hunger Strike protests of the 1980s. Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen can not now be under any illusion about the feelings of the people of this state. We are opposed to this war and we are opposed to the Dublin Governments complicity in it, through the use of Shannon Airport.

``Sinn Fein has for months constantly tried to get from the Government in the Dail a response to the accusations that they were participating in the build up to war in the Middle East by facilitating US troop and munitions movement through Shannon Airport. All we got back was the usual waffle from Bertie and Co - denials and subterfuge. We will put them to the test next week when Sinn Fein brings a neutrality Bill before the Dail and will challenge the Government to put neutality in the Irish constitution.

``Let us be clear about what is a happening here. This Government's complicity in this war drive is illegal. It is against domestic and international law. It is against the wishes of the majority of Irish people, whom you represent here today. We will make them accountable.

``Sinn Fein has been proactive in demanding an end to this duplicity and will continue to do so. We have been proactive on the streets in anti-war mobilising, and in Leinster House where we have consistently tackled the government on this issue since last September.

``We need the Government to state their position clearly. Their evasiveness and duplicity is not acceptable. The more than twenty thousand voices here are calling on the Taoiseach to state Ireland's opposition clearly on Monday at the EU meeting, to reflect the reality of Irish opinion shown here today. We want him to reflect the Irish view that a war on Iraq is neither justified or acceptable.

``It is to Ireland's shame that this government - who fought for the right to be on the United Nations Security Council, who said they would represent the interests of small nations there - failed to use this position to strongly oppose war. Instead they have left the initiative to France, Germany, Russia, and others.

``Let us clear about consequences of war. The humanitarian and global stability stakes are too high. Since the last Gulf war sanctions have killed more people in Iraq, innocent men, women and children, than all uses of weapons of mass destruction ever did.

``There are alternatives to war. Sinn Fein believes strongly, based on our own experience, that peaceful resolutions to conflict can only come through dialogue and negotiation. We are saying let the UN inspectors continue with they work which they have said is making progress. We are demanding No war on Iraq.''

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