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 corporations.

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 Baghdad?

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.

The 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-----

Mr. G. Mitchell: That is nonsense.

Mr. Rabbitte: It is a cheap misrepresentation.

Ms Harney: It is not a cheap misrepresentation. Did the Deputy read the article?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Tánaiste without interruption.

Ms 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-----

Mr. 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.-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order. The Tánaiste without interruption. Deputy Joe Higgins should resume his seat.

Mr. 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-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Tánaiste should be allowed to proceed without interruption. Deputy Higgins, please resume your seat.

Ms Harney: I listened to Deputy Higgins and everybody else and I should have the right to be able to finish my contribution.

Mr. J. Higgins: The Tánaiste's colleagues sent him the beef. She should not try to smear principled socialists-----

A Deputy: The Deputy should put on his red jacket.

 

The 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 can be!