29th January 2003
Ó Snodaigh accuses Government of hypocrisy over war on Iraq
Speaking at the Private Members debate on Iraq Sinn Fein spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh said: ``This Government has deliberately and repeatedly misled both the Dáil and the Irish people on the use of Shannon Airport to transport troops and munitions on their way to prepare for war on Iraq.
``They have been complicit in war preparations in the absence of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
``The Taoiseach and Minister Cowen have repeatedly assured this House since early October that they consider the UN to be supreme in these matters, and that they will abide by Security Council resolutions.
``Since October the Taoiseach has insisted that no deal exists with the US to allow Shannon to be used for war preparations. But they have also been very evasive in their answers to direct questions put by myself and numerous other Deputies in this House as to whether the Government has offered cooperation with the US Government in their war preparations.
``Yet according to recent revelations the Government has allowed Shannon to be used as a pit-stop on the way to war by both civilian and military aircraft. BUT The Security Council has NOT authorised force, and any facilitation of the current US-led war build-up is NOT in keeping with current Security Council policy. Therefore, they have deceived the Dáil and the public about their true position.
These war preparations have taken place in violation of:
- the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order, 1973, section 6, paragraph 2 (a) (i) (ii), which states that it is against the law to carry munitions of war on an aircraft. We now know with certainty that this has happened.
- The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, at paragraphs 3, and 4, states that no foreign military aircraft shall fly over or land in the state without the express permission of the Minister. To my question of December 10, Cowen said that no routine applications for overflights or landings had been refused, because the government had confirmed that the aircraft did not carry arms or ammunition, and were not part of a military exercise or operation. Yet we know these things have happened. He also said that no applications were made for Ministerial exemption of these conditions. If this is so, then either the Government has already extended permission, so that applications for exemption are not required, or else they have been derelict in their duty to enforce the law. We deserve full disclosure as to which is the case.
- the Defence Act, 1954, section 317, paragraphs 1 and 2, states that no one can enter or land in the state while wearing any foreign military uniform, save with the express permission in writing of a Minister. Yet we know these things have also happened.
``This Government have therefore breached the obligations of neutral states as defined by Articles 2 and 5 of the Hague Convention V Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land. (Article 2 states that ``belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war OR supplies across the territory of a neutral power,''and article 5 states that it is the responsibility of the neutral power itself to ensure that this does not occur.
``They have done all this without the assent of the Dáil, in violation of Article 28 (3) (1) of the Constitution (and not to mention, contrary to the spirit of Article 29.2 of the Constitution).
``Minister Cowen, in answer to my question of December 3, reassured me that the Government would ``at all times act in accordance with its Constitutional and legal obligations'' with respect to the granting of overflight and landing permission. They have not done so.
``I must put protest on record that this Government, despite repeated (at least 5) requests by myself and by SF since September 10, has refused to allow a proper and full debate of these issues. It is their responsibility to ensure that this debate happens.
``Why have they refused? They cite Article 29.4 of the Constitution on executive powers allowing for Government and Ministerial discretion in these matters. They don't intend to consult the Dáil, nor to answer to the Dáil until absolutely necessary. Yet at the same time, they claim over and over that they are in compliance with the relevant laws and the Constitution, and they are not.
``They are hypocrites and I will continue to expose their hypocrisy and deceit.
``This Government is systematically abandoning neutrality by stealth:
- it joined NATO's PfP despite promises to the contrary
- it refused to seek a legally binding neutrality Protocol to the Nice Treaty despite public outcry
- it set the precedent of Ministerial authorisation for war complicity without the assent of the Dáil in the case of the US-led war on Afghanistan (pursuant to UNSC resolution 1368)
- it failed to use its position on the Security Council and in the EU to avert war on Iraq
``I will finish by demanding the immediate cessation of military overflights and landings by foreign powers preparing for or participating in war, in keeping with our laws, Constitution, and rights and responsibilities as a Neutral Power.''ENDS
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