Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (Member of parliament),
speaking in the Dail, Thursday, 20th March.
The motion to allow US troops to
use Shannon airport.
Mr. J. Higgins: The invasion of Iraq is a
naked grab to secure the Iraqi oilfields for US capitalism and to secure
imperialist control over the Middle East. That is understood by the majority of
Irish people and by the veritable human tide that demonstrated against war
around the world on 15 February. It must be the ultimate obscenity that the
richest nations on earth are using their massive technological abilities to
unleash, even as we speak, the most ferocious weaponry of destruction on the
heads of the men, women and children of Iraq, who are already seriously
weakened by a sanctions regime imposed by the leaders of those same nations,
which should be described as nothing short of genocidal. The sanctions weakened
them beyond the capacity of overthrowing Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
Had the awesome technology and incredible resources
invested in the creation of devices to shred and incinerate ever greater
numbers of human beings been invested over the decades in resolving the
problems of humanity, war could have been eliminated from the face of the
globe. However, the leaders launching this war are the same ones who armed,
supported and comforted Saddam Hussein and his dictatorship, as did Fianna Fáil
Ministers who eagerly did business with the beast in Baghdad months after the
slaughter of the Kurds in Halabja.
The Government's response to the launch of a
criminal, imperialist war, as represented in the motion before the Dáil, is
beneath contempt. Having hidden for months behind the UN and the possibility of
a second Security Council resolution authorising a military strike, it greets
the trampling of the UN by Bush and Blair by stating that it "Regrets that
the coalition finds it necessary to launch a campaign." The mildness of
the rebuke would scarcely be appropriate in commenting on a mild street brawl
between a few drunks in the Taoiseach's constituency, but it beggars belief
that it is all the Government can muster in face of the most murderous assault
by imperial powers on a virtually defenceless people. It does, however, befit a
Government whose conduct throughout this crisis has been gutless, spineless and
destitute of moral conviction. It is a Government led by a Taoiseach shackled
to the foreign policy of the extreme right-wing cabal which has secured control
over the US Government under President Bush, and a Tánaiste whose moral vision
remains strictly confined to fumblings in the greasy tills of multinational
It defies credibility that the Government maintains
today that the facilitation of the US military on its way to invade Iraq is not
a facilitation of the invasion. If the owners of a petrol station had refuelled
the cars that came to slaughter our people in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
and sent the bombers on their way in full knowledge of what they were about to
do, would the Government not take the view that their hands would be stained
with the blood of the innocent victims? What is the difference between these
bombers and the bombers the Irish Government is facilitating on their war to
If the Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats
backbenchers go as meekly into the Government lobbies today as the sheep the
Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, shoved into the
Department of Agriculture on a different occasion, they are equally complicit
in what is now unfolding. I demand the immediate withdrawal of the facilities
for the US military at Shannon and an end to all overflights. It is for the
Iraqi people to remove the Saddam Hussein dictatorship and determine their
future. I call for the future of the peoples and resources of Iraq and the
Middle East generally to be determined by the peoples in that region based on
the principles of freedom, justice, democracy and human rights, free from both
local dictatorships and imperialist and corporate interference.
Later in the debate, one of the government ministers,
Mary Harney of the Right wing group, Progressive Democrats, was attacking another
right of centre party.. read on.
Fine Gael party has a proud tradition in this respect. Over the years it has
never been afraid to do what was right for the country. I was surprised to read
the comments of the Leader of Fine Gael, Deputy Kenny, in this morning's The
Irish Times in which he apparently said that he wants to close Shannon to
our close friend, the United States, so as not to antagonise the Government of
North Korea. Is the Leader of Fine Gael seriously suggesting-----
G. Mitchell: That is nonsense.
Rabbitte: It is a cheap misrepresentation.
Harney: It is not a cheap misrepresentation. Did the Deputy read
Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Tánaiste without interruption.
Harney: That type of comment might be expected from Deputy Higgins
of the Socialist Party but coming from Deputy Kenny it is an insult to the fine
traditions of Fine Gael and the distinguished role that party-----
J. Higgins: Who supported him? The Tánaiste's colleagues sent him beef
from our programme and he launched the most ferocious weapons including
poisonous gas, etc.-----
Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order. The Tánaiste without interruption. Deputy Joe
Higgins should resume his seat.
J. Higgins: The Tánaiste should talk to her colleagues if she wants to
know who supported Saddam Hussein. She should talk to the Minister, Deputy
Brennan, who sat down with him-----
Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Tánaiste should be allowed to proceed without
interruption. Deputy Higgins, please resume your seat.
Harney: I listened to Deputy Higgins and everybody else and I
should have the right to be able to finish my contribution.
J. Higgins: The Tánaiste's colleagues sent him the beef. She should not
try to smear principled socialists-----
Deputy: The Deputy should put on his red jacket.
government argued that they should continue to allow US military forces to use the
Shannon airport. Motion was passed 73 to 56. Please remember that Ireland is a militarily
non-aligned, neutral state. Just shows how flexible the governmen’ts principles