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‘The Irish People want their Neutrality back, Peace not War…’
Dáil Diary no 63 – 14 December 2015
In a recent article on the Middle Eastern crisis, journalist Mehdi Hasan wrote – ‘The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see,” wrote Ayn Rand in her novel The Fountainhead. That there is a link, a connection, between the west’s military interventions in the Middle East and terrorist attacks against the west, that violence begets violence, is “glaringly evident” to anyone with open eyes, if not open minds. He went on to write – ‘Isn’t it odd, then, that in the case of Russia, western governments have been keen to link Vladimir Putin’s – and only Vladimir Putin’s – foreign policy to terrorist violence? On 1 October the US government and its allies issued a joint statement declaring that the Russian president’s decision to intervene in Syria would “only fuel more extremism and radicalisation” Moscow’s bombing campaign will “lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism”, claimed David Cameron on 4 October. Note the words “lead to”. Speaking at a Nato summit on 8 October the US defence secretary, Ashton Carter, warned of the “consequences for Russia itself, which is rightly fearful of attacks”.
Those who had the audacity to link the Paris attacks with the France bombing of Syria and Iraq, have faced ridicule from some quarters, who seem to be only able to join the dots when it comes to Russia, but refuse to see the woods from the trees when it comes close to home. More bombs will not stop the progress of this horrific organisation, they will serve only to give oxygen to ISIS – And boost profits for the arms industry.
The present Irish Government chooses to take the same hypocritical position when it is pointed out to them that, when we allow Shannon to be used as a US Military Airbase, we are complicit in the slaughter of almost 2 million innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, since 2001. The same Government Ministers cry foul when the link is made between the US Military use of Shannon, the mindless destruction of lives, homes and communities, and the resultant Refugee crisis.
If we really care about the Refugees, we will stop facilitating War, stop the military use of Shannon , and begin to work for Peace instead. Here’s my short contribution on the issue in the Dáil last week, with the Minister for Justice. -
“The Government says that this is a short-term solution which will solve people's accommodation needs as they seek an application for protection in this country. I understood, from listening to the Minister for State, that direct provision would be abolished, given how poorly it had functioned over the years. Fast-tracking the process will not necessarily solve all of the problems. It will obviously help, but it is interesting that various NGOs have pointed out that there are not sufficient safeguards in the Bill to prevent people being fast-tracked through the system and out of the country again, with insufficient scrutiny of whether they actually need protection. That hardly seems like a just or reasonable solution.
Another problem is the fact that the direct provision system remains a largely private system, with only seven out of the 34 direct provision centres being run by the State. The others are run by private companies. The Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children have no oversight role and, despite the working group's recommendation that they should be given one under this Bill, it was another suggestion that was ignored. People live in caravans, prefabs and hotel rooms, sometimes four or five people to a room. They are not permitted to cook their own food and have almost no control over their own lives. Leaving in place the system as it is currently constituted is disappointing.
Ireland is probably unique in that it totally strips asylum seekers of their independence and forces them to be directly provided for by the State, to the tune of €19 per adult per week, with a caravan in Mosney sometimes being thrown in. It is unfortunate that the Bill does not go a lot further. The fact that NGOs are so disappointed with it should surely raise concerns for the Government.
The Minister said people are looking for safe asylum, and I agree with her that they are. We must keep highlighting the fact that there is a reason 33 million people are displaced today because of war. It is unfortunate that we pretend we are not facilitating it, but we are complicit by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military airbase. The Minister can shake her head all she likes, but if we allow international law to be broken on a regular basis by military planes coming through Shannon carrying arms and munitions, which is against international law, and to refuse to inspect them, we are complicit in the war effort.
Some 2.5 million US troops have passed through Shannon since 2001. What have they been doing? Almost 2 million innocent civilians have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. We have played a large part in that. It was nauseating to listen to the Minister for Health yesterday feign concern about Deputies breaking the law when he is not remotely worried about international laws being broken almost daily in Shannon by US military planes bringing munitions and arms through the airport. Why is he not concerned about that? Why is he not concerned about the health of the people in the Middle East and the 2 million innocent civilians who have been killed? I do not understand him.”