Press Release 08/03/2011
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance (PANA) welcomes the statement in the new Labour/Fine Gael Programme for Government, promising to implement international law in terms of the use of Irish airspace and airports by foreign powers. Under the section Foreign Affairs, ODA and Defence, the Programme says: "We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purpose not in line with dictates of international law."
PANA Chair, Roger Cole, a delegate to the Conference, asked for clarification of this statement in the Programme for Government. He pointed out that a key part of international law governing the behaviour of Neutral States is the Hague Convention of 1907 which prohibits the use of a neutral state's territory to prosecute a war. Switzerland quotes the Hague Convention to explain why no US planes land in Zurich Airport on their way to and from their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Cole asked: " Does this mean the termination of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops in these permanent ongoing wars?" citing Afghanistan and Iraq.
Eamon Gilmore in his closing speech to the Conference, replied to Roger Cole's call for clarification. The Labour Party Leader stated that: "Yes, Roger Cole has pointed out an area where is there is a difference" and "that it may be hard to believe" but that the statement in the Programme for the Government " does mean what is says".
In the context of the question asked and the reply given, this means the new government will, like the Government of Switzerland, implement the Hague Convention, and terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We would hope the new incoming government would do so on Easter Monday, the 95th anniversary of the 1915 Rising. PANA will also seek an early meeting with the new Minister for Foreign Affairs.
For more information contact Roger Cole, Chair of PANA Tel: 087-2611597 or Seamas Ratigan Tel: 086-8369793