Mick Wallace Would be good if #mainstreammedia held #FiannaFail + #FineGael to account for voting for a terrible #CAP that aband… https://t.co/RFUXVmKnea
Mick Wallace The #EU needs to do more to stop the Collective Punishment of the people of #Tigray - This is a form of Genocide b… https://t.co/G5c6hiCa2q
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: The lack of concern shown by the #EU for the people of #Venezuela has been shocking and says much about their so called 'E…
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: #EU says they're interested in Dialogue - So why don't they talk to #Syria ..? They say they're interested in Rule of Law…

Foreign Affairs

Dáil Diary no 34- 17th July 2014 Massacre in Gaza and the World is silent... For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories on the planet. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children, while Palestinian fire has killed one Israeli on the other side.

But instead of demanding a halt to Israel’s campaign of collective punishment against what is still illegally occupied territory, the western powers have blamed the victims for fighting back “No country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Barack Obama declared, echoed by a mostly pliant media. Perhaps it’s scarcely surprising that states which have themselves invaded and occupied a string of Arab and Muslim countries in the past decade should take the side of another occupier they fund and arm to the hilt. Here’s my contribution yesterday on the issue with the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan- “To date, more than 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians including women and children, have been killed. In contrast, there has been one fatality on the Israeli side. I do not understand how the Government has stayed so silent. More than 300,000 Palestinians have been asked to move or have been displaced in preparation for an imminent attack. What is happening right now amounts to a massacre, not a war. We should all be concerned. Israel claims that it has the right to self-defence, but an occupying power does not have the right to defence. It has an obligation and a duty to protect the civilians under its occupation. Even if it fails to meet that duty, it must abide by humanitarian law and the principles of distinction, proportionality and necessity. It has not abided by any of these. What is happening in Gaza amounts to war crimes. It is a repeat of what happened in 2008, 2009 and 2012. We will see this repeated unless Israel is held to account under international humanitarian law and international criminal law. We need responsible governments to introduce sanctions in order to work towards stopping these massacres and to address the root causes of these flare-ups, which is the structural violence of occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism. Hamas and other Palestinian leaders are suspicious of the Middle East envoy, Mr. Tony Blair, acting as the link between Israel and Egypt. Blair is clearly a defender of Israel's interests and in the interest of peace, the Government should advocate at European level for the removal of Blair, who should be tried for war crimes for his disgraceful involvement in the Iraq war. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, "No international pressure will prevent us from acting with all power", claiming to have recently had good conversations with leaders, including US President Obama and EU Heads of Government. Will Ireland also be complicit? Despite that the United Nations top human rights official has called for an investigation into Israeli air strikes in Gaza on the grounds that the targeting of Palestinian homes resulting in a high death toll among civilians, particularly children, violates international law, is there any chance the Government would take a neutral position and highlight how disgraceful the Israeli behaviour is? Unfortunately, the US and Egypt are happy to see Hamas take a beating. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was concerned about escalating tensions. On Tuesday he said, "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas". The Minister spoke about both sides behaving themselves. If France invaded Liechtenstein, killed 200 of its inhabitants while only one French person was killed, would we be asking them to behave and make up? No, we would be throwing anything we could at France. What is happening in Gaza is outrageous. Everyone knows Hamas’s demands are not ridiculous. It wants the blockade ended, the release of 50 prisoners who were re-arrested after they had recently been released in exchange for an Israeli soldier, and the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. If the US continues to defend the indefensible, Israel will continue to behave abysmally. That is no reason why the Irish Government should behave abysmally. Let us call a spade a spade. We need to be seen as a neutral country.” Mick Wallace.

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A few of us have persistently challenged the Tánaiste Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, on the illegal use of Shannon by the United States military, but the Tánaiste has consistently engaged in denial. Last week it was ‘revealed’ by the Tánaiste that an American military aircraft sporting a fixed weapon, landed and refuelled at Shannon Airport on September 5th. I say ‘revealed’ as the revelation came in answer to a written question from Galway East TD Derek Nolan, a party colleague of the Minister, who has previously shown very little interest in the issue of Irish neutrality or in the use of Shannon Airport to facilitate the United States imperial war machine. The whole episode does seem to have a strong dimension of Government spin to it. - And surprise, surprise, the mainstream media are glad to be compliant.

An AC130W is a modified transport aircraft. It is modified by the addition of a 30mm autocannon, a rapid fire shell launching system that is often armed with depleted uranium capped incendiary or explosive rounds, and a laser guided missile launching system, with each missile containing 13 pounds of explosive and a blast fragmentation warhead, which upon detonation liberally sprays a small area with shards of superheated metal. According to the manufacturer, Raytheon, this missile is designed for ‘urban environments’. Depleted Uranium, which is used in the 30mm shells fired by the autocannon, has been linked to legacy cancers in the Balkans and Iraq as a result of the radioactivity of this material.

Such an aircraft is used to provide ground support to Special Operations teams operated by the US in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and recently in Libya. As detailed in the writings of journalist Jeremy Scahill in The Nation and on Democracy Now!, these missions frequently end in the loss of civilian lives, due to poor intelligence gathering techniques, liberal target selection policies, and the US military’s long running attachment to high tech firepower. Despite the claims of its adherents, a piece of flying artillery cannot be classified as a precision or discriminating weapon.

This is surely not the first time that a US combat aircraft has made use of the facilities at Shannon. As yet unconfirmed reports speak of several A10 Warthog ‘tankbuster’ type aircraft refueling at Shannon. As these aircraft are constructed around a six barrelled anti tank gun, which cannot be easily removed, it is likely that further ‘fixed weapon’ episodes have taken place, as yet unrevealed to the public.

If the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs wishes to give the Irish people, 80% of whom support military neutrality according to a recent RedC poll, some measure of reassurance that Ireland is not collaborating with controversial wars against some of the poorest nations on the planet, the Minister could ensure that Ireland’s neutrality would be respected by ordering random searches of US military aircraft to ensure that they are abiding by the conditions agreed for the use of Shannon Airport, but this he will not do, despite his own statements prior to the General Election of 2011 that the Labour Party would introduce new laws subjecting US military transports to ‘proper inspection by Irish authorities’.

Any one for some accountability? Or transparency? Or is it too much to ask…?

Mick Wallace.

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On 23 March, Mick made a statement in the Dail about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Click here to watch the speech, the full text can be read below.

"It is heart-rending to watch what is happening in Japan. I had the good fortune to visit the country twice. I went there for the World Cup in 2002 and I liked the country so much I returned a couple of years later. The Japanese are the most incredible people on the planet. I have been reading about the 200 guys who are working in the plant at present to try to save everybody in the surrounding area. They run the risk of losing their lives. It is unbelievable, but that is the type of people they are. They are among the most civilized people on the planet. It was like living on a different planet when I was there. They are amazing people.

It appears that the nuclear problem could have been a great deal worse. It is frightening to consider that the nuclear energy of the Japanese, who prepare for everything probably better than any other people, is not safe. I am old enough to have been at Carnsore Point. It is huge relief we do not have a plant here. There was an earthquake in L’Aquila in Italy two years ago and most of the houses there collapsed because they were not built as well as houses in Japan. However, Italy has many nuclear power stations and it is frightening to consider if the earthquake that occurred in L’Aquila had happened near one of those plants, it could have caused unbelievable devastation.

The Government should play an active role in highlighting that no matter how safe we seek to make nuclear energy, it poses a massive risk to the people of Europe. There is no such thing as safe nuclear power. That has been brought home to us clearly by events in Japan."

 

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