Shannon figures reveal govt's role in escalating Iraqi conflict
6 January 2006
Labour Party President and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Michael D Higgins TD, has said new figures showing that over 300,000 US troops passed through Shannon airport in 2005 will outrage the Irish public as the loss of the life of ordinary Iraqis increases by the day.
On a related issue, involving a blatant breach of international law, Deputy Higgins also said that the Irish public would support any demand that their Government take immediate steps to inspect all aircraft suspected of carrying prisoners for so-called ‘extra-ordinary rendition'.
Deputy Higgins commented, "This has been one of the bloodiest weeks in the recent history of the Iraq conflict with hundreds of lives lost in bomb attacks and ongoing fighting. At such a time, it is necessary to consider the Irish Government's role in the war through the continued use of Shannon by the US military both for sending troops to Iraq and for the transfer of prisoners without legal process.
"That the number of US troops using Shannon has more than doubled in the last year is evidence that there is little sign of an end to the US's illegal occupation, and that the conflict itself is escalating.
"On the further issue of extraordinary rendition which is in clear breach of international law and conventions with which we have a clear duty of compliance, the Government refuses to give reality to such compliance by inspection. Indeed the independent Irish Human Rights Commission, which has a statutory duty to advise the Government on human rights issues, has stated that the Government is ignoring its obligations in failing to demand these inspections.
"It is clear that the Government's position of unquestioningly accepting ‘the assurances of a friendly nation' is not sufficient to meet our obligations under international law. Given the increase in US troops using Shannon, and in the context of an illegal war that is deteriorating rather than moving towards a peaceful end, the Government must ensure that their tacit support for the war does not include facilitating the torture of prisoners."