Sinn Féin Press Releases on Ireland's neutrality and details of Vote taken on Neutrality Bill - PMB on Neutrality in Feb '03

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Vote taken on Neutrality Bill - PMB on Neutrality - (Feb '03)

Total Tá: 35
Total Níl: 100

Boyle, Dan.; Broughan, Thomas P.; Burton, Joan.; Costello, Joe.; Cowley, Jerry.; Crowe, Seán.; Cuffe, Ciarán.; Ferris, Martin.; Gilmore, Eamon.; Gogarty, Paul.; Gormley, John.; Gregory, Tony.; Harkin, Marian.; Higgins, Joe.; Higgins, Michael D.; Howlin, Brendan.; Lynch, Kathleen.; McGrath, Finian.; McManus, Liz.; Morgan, Arthur.; Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.; Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.; Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.; O'Shea, Brian.; O'Sullivan, Jan.; Pattison, Seamus.; Penrose, Willie.; Quinn, Ruairi.; Rabbitte, Pat.; Ryan, Eamon.; Ryan, Seán.; Sargent, Trevor.; Sherlock, Joe.; Shortall, Róisín.; Stagg, Emmet.

Ahern, Dermot.; Ahern, Michael.; Ahern, Noel.; Allen, Bernard.; Andrews, Barry.; Ardagh, Seán.; Aylward, Liam.; Blaney, Niall.; Brady, Martin.; Breen, James.; Breen, Pat.; Brennan, Seamus.; Browne, John.; Bruton, Richard.; Callanan, Joe.; Callely, Ivor.; Carey, Pat.; Cassidy, Donie.; Collins, Michael.; Connaughton, Paul.; Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.; Coughlan, Mary.; Coveney, Simon.; Crawford, Seymour.; Cregan, John.; Cullen, Martin.; Curran, John.; Davern, Noel.; Deenihan, Jimmy.; Dempsey, Tony.; Dennehy, John.; Devins, Jimmy.; Durkan, Bernard J.; Ellis, John.; Finneran, Michael.; Fitzpatrick, Dermot.; Fleming, Seán.; Fox, Mildred.; Gallagher, Pat The Cope.; Grealish, Noel.; Hanafin, Mary.; Haughey, Seán.; Hayes, Tom.; Hoctor, Máire.; Hogan, Phil.; Jacob, Joe.; Keaveney, Cecilia.; Kelleher, Billy.; Kelly, Peter.; Kenny, Enda.; Killeen, Tony.; Kirk, Seamus.; Kitt, Tom.; Lenihan, Brian.; Lenihan, Conor.; Martin, Micheál.; McCormack, Padraic.; McCreevy, Charlie.; McDaid, James.; McDowell, Michael.; McEllistrim, Thomas.; McGrath, Paul.; McGuinness, John.; Mitchell, Olivia.; Moloney, John.; Moynihan, Donal.; Moynihan, Michael.; Mulcahy, Michael.; Murphy, Gerard.; Naughten, Denis.; Neville, Dan.; Nolan, M.J.; Ó Cuív, Éamon.; O'Connor, Charlie.; O'Donnell, Liz.; O'Donovan, Denis.; O'Dowd, Fergus.; O'Flynn, Noel.; O'Keeffe, Batt.; O'Keeffe, Jim.; O'Keeffe, Ned.; O'Malley, Fiona.; O'Malley, Tim.; Parlon, Tom.; Perry, John.; Power, Peter.; Power, Seán.; Ring, Michael.; Ryan, Eoin.; Sexton, Mae.; Smith, Brendan.; Smith, Michael.; Stanton, David.; Timmins, Billy.; Treacy, Noel.; Twomey, Liam.; Wallace, Mary.; Wilkinson, Ollie.; Woods, Michael.; Wright, G.V.

Government must seize opportunity to challenge EU Common Defence
- 3rd October 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on International Affairs and Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the confirmation by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Dáil today that the Common Defence provisions of the draft EU Constitutional Treaty will be revised. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "Ireland must now seize this opportunity to show progressive leadership in the EU and to exercise its responsibility as a militarily neutral state, by seeking changes to draft Article I-40 on Common Defence, the provisions of which significantly further militarise the EU and undermine Irish military neutrality by association with and complicity in the European militarist project.

"Today I urged the Government once again to instruct the Irish negotiators to protect Irish independence in defence policy, and specifically the traditional policies of military neutrality and UN primacy, by at minimum securing a specific article explicitly recognising the rights and duties of neutral states within the Union and explicitly recognising the right of those states requiring a UN mandate for military operations.

"I also urged the Government in line with its policy on nuclear disarmament to take up Sinn Féin's challenge of Positive Neutrality in Action and use the opportunity of the IGC negotiations to argue for a new Treaty Article committing to the objective of a Nuclear Weapons-Free EU, as a concrete step towards making this world genuinely safer for all.

"We want Government commitment to activism on the issue of neutrality and demilitarisation, in the same way that they have actively campaigned for the retention of unanimity in decision-making on taxation. There is no reason why the Government shouldn't fight as hard to protect Irish neutrality as Spain and Poland have to protect their favourable voting weights in Council. And I don't accept the false choice offered by the Government-Fine Gael-Labour axis – that an EU Common Defence is inevitable, and the only option before us is to either fully commit by sending troops or else limit our participation to EU defence policy making. There is another way, and that is to actively campaign against an EU Common Defence and in favour of UN primacy and a demilitarised EU, and to also ensure that Ireland and other militarily neutral states are accorded equal status and explicit recognition in the Union." - ENDS

Ó Snodaigh calls on Government to "admit that Irish neutrality is a lie"
- 9 April 2003

Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh this afternoon called on the Irish Government to "come clean and admit that Irish neutrality is a lie". Deputy Ó Snodaigh was responding to comments made by Minister Brian Cowen in response to a question on Ireland's neutrality in the Dáil today. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "The Government has claimed that they have not breached Irish neutrality but the Irish people have a right to know exactly how the Government defines it and whether it even exists? For many weeks now I have been attempting to conduct what I would call a neutrality audit. I have asked a number of different Ministers a range of questions designed to ascertain to what extent our so-called neutrality is being breached by facilitating foreign military aircraft and ships on their way to war. So far the Government have refused to provide a comprehensive account.

"Again today the Minister refused point blank to answer my specific questions.

However he did acknowledge that the Irish Government, alone amongst the international community, has a different definition of military neutrality to everybody else. He specifically said that he does not accept the Hague Convention definition of neutrality. But rather than provide the Governments alternative definition he claimed that in Irelands case it was best to keep it vague. And in an attempt to try and confuse the matter further he mischievously suggested that a UN Charter had since negated the 1907 Hague Convention in terms of defining the rights and duties of neutral states.

"It is clear from the Ministers response today, or the lack of it, that this Government has long since abandoned any desire or wish to respect and defend what most people regard as a positive aspect of Ireland's foreign policy.

"I am calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come clean and to explicitly admit that Irish neutrality is a lie, and has been a lie under successive Fianna Fáil Governments. The time for hiding behind evasive answers, misinformation has long past. It is time to stop treating the people with contempt and to confirm what is the reality – that is, we are not a neutral state." - ENDS

Ó Snodaigh accuses Government of hypocrisy over war on Iraq
- 29 January 2003

Speaking at the Private Members debate on Iraq Sinn Féin 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 Article 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

Sinn Féin Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
Tel: 01 - 8722609 // Fax: 01 - 8733441
Press Officer: Michael Nolan // 086 2477694 // Email:


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