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To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the action he has taken to date to encourage the United States administration to close Guantanamo Bay; his views on the ongoing hunger strike in the prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 16th May, 2013.

REPLY

Ireland has repeatedly called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, urging that those detained there be either brought to trial or released as soon as possible.  I discussed this issue with Hillary Clinton when she was US Secretary of State.  It is also mentioned regularly in discussions between Irish and US officials and between the EU and the US.

In 2009, as the Deputy will be aware, President Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo detention centre. I am conscious that his efforts to do so have to date been frustrated by the absence of the necessary agreement on the part of the US Congress. I welcome the President’s continuing political commitment to close Guantanamo, including a recent statement he made on this issue. I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to press for urgent closure of the detention centre.

As regards the current hunger strike at Guantanamo, my Department is monitoring developments closely.   I hope that the immediate situation will be handled on a basis which ensures full respect for the human rights of the detainees and which avoids loss of life.    As for the wider issues which are the subject of this protest action, I was greatly heartened by President Obama’s strong reaffirmation last week that he will renew his efforts to secure closure of the centre.

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