Seanad Éireann - Volume 172 - 21 March, 2003

Foreign Conflicts: Motion.

  Ms O'Rourke: I move:

    That Seanad Éireann, noting the commencement of military action by a United States led coalition against Iraq;

    – reaffirms Ireland's commitment to the United Nations as the guarantor of collective global security and as the appropriate forum for the resolution of disputes threatening international peace and security;

    – condemns the continued refusal of the Government of Iraq over a period of 12 years to comply with its obligation to disarm as imposed by numerous resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, most recently in Resolution 1441;

    – recalls that Resolution 1441 found Iraq in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, afforded Iraq a final opportunity to comply with these obligations and recalled the Security Council's repeated warnings that Iraq would [106]face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

    – expresses its deep regret that efforts within the Security Council to reach agreement on how to address the question of Iraqi non-compliance have failed;

    – recalls Ireland's statement as a member of the Security Council on the adoption of Resolution 1441 that it would be for the Security Council to decide on any ensuing action in the event of further Iraqi non-compliance;

    – regrets that the coalition finds it necessary to launch the campaign in the absence of agreement on a further resolution, notwithstanding the claims of the coalition to be acting on the basis of an existing Security Council mandate;

    – endorses the decision of the Government that Ireland will not participate in the coalition's proposed military action against Iraq;

    – expresses its earnest hope that military action will be of short duration and that loss of human life and destruction will be kept to a minimum;

    – declares its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq;

    – calls on all parties to any conflict to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions;

    – welcomes the stated intention of the coalition to act swiftly to address the food and humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people;

    – welcomes the arrangements put in place by the Government to ensure that Ireland will be able to contribute rapidly to the humanitarian effort in Iraq;

    – calls on the United Nations to assume a central role in securing the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people and the reconstruction of Iraq, in which Ireland will play its full part;

    – recalls the long-standing arrangements for the overflight and landing in Ireland of US military and civilian aircraft; and

    – supports the decision of the Government to maintain those arrangements.

  Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. T. Kitt): I am very pleased to have the opportunity to address this House again today on the subject of Iraq. On the previous occasion when we discussed this issue in the Seanad, on 6 February last, I described the background to what [107]was still an impending conflict. I expressed the hope that military action could be averted and I set out what was required of Saddam Hussein's regime.

  Unfortunately, and to the Government's great regret, Iraq did not come forward with the full, immediate, proactive response demanded by the Security Council. Consequently, the hopes shared by us and the international community that Iraq could be disarmed peacefully were dashed. Even as we are speaking, the war has well and truly begun and we have seen the first reports of the inevitable and highly regrettable loss of life, both civilian and military.

  This is not the outcome which the Government sought. It is exactly what we worked to avoid during our time as a member of the Security Council and, since then, up to the present. The Government has repeatedly called attention to the dangers entailed in military conflict: we have pointed to the threat of large-scale loss of life, casualties and human suffering; we have signalled the risk that conflict could destabilise an already volatile region; we have warned of the prospect of increased tension between the Moslem and western worlds; and we have laid particular emphasis on humanitarian concerns.

  During our time on the Security Council, together with like-minded states, we worked hard and with some success to alleviate the effects of economic sanctions on the innocent civilian population of Iraq. The operation of the sanctions system was reversed so as to facilitate the supply of non-military goods intended for civilian use. The potential benefit of this was to some extent frustrated by the Iraqi regime who obstructed the oil-for-food programme for cynical propaganda purposes.

  Sanctions could have been brought to an end years ago. This would have happened if Saddam Hussein had chosen to comply with the obligation imposed on him by the Security Council to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. However, he preferred to keep these weapons to intimidate his neighbours and terrorise his own people.

  The Government has consistently opposed the use of force, except as a very last resort after all other possible means have been tried and have failed. The Government has stressed that all means short of force must be tried and we have encouraged and lent our support to every effort to find a peaceful solution through diplomatic means. As a member of the Security Council, Ireland contributed actively to the efforts which resulted in the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1441. That was an important moment when the international community demonstrated its ability to act collectively and decisively in defence of international peace and security.

  Resolution 1441 clearly defines Iraq's non-compliance with council resolutions and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and [108]long-range missiles as a threat to international peace and security. The resolution went on to find Iraq to be in material breach of the obligation imposed on it by the Security Council to disarm itself of its weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, it offered Iraq a last opportunity to bring itself into compliance. The resolution then recalled that the council had repeatedly warned Iraq that it would face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.

  The world, and in particular the Iraqi people, would have been spared much suffering if Saddam Hussein had been willing to seize this last opportunity. Instead, he has continued his practice of rejecting the legitimate demands placed upon him by the international community. His reaction was not to co-operate, but to engage once again in tactics of deception and evasion. Once again, he has miscalculated and brought the disaster of a third war upon his people.

  The reports delivered by Dr. Blix to the Security Council were disturbing and raised a number of serious questions. In particular, he conveyed that Iraq had not come to a genuine acceptance of disarmament and was not co-operating satisfactorily on substance. Dr. Blix set out a series of areas where the Iraqi declaration on its weapons programmes was incomplete or remains unsubstantiated. The Iraqis were known to be in possession of well-documented quantities of weapons. Where are those weapons now? Dr. Blix has made it clear that, as of now, the sums do not add up. Instead, there are glaring discrepancies.

  We would have liked to see the inspections continue as long as the inspectors themselves and the Security Council considered that they served a useful purpose. At the same time, we recognised that the inspections could not continue for ever. Eventually, there were some signs of movement on the part of the Iraqi regime. Unfortunately, these signs came too late and they continued to be grudging and designed to give the impression rather than the substance of the full, immediate and active co-operation the Security Council had demanded.

  Ireland repeatedly stated its view that if Iraq continued in its non-compliance a second Security Council resolution should be adopted. We still believe that this is what should have been done. It is clear that there is no generally accepted view on the validity of the different interpretations and it is unlikely that agreement on this point can be reached. The compelling political reality is that a second resolution would signal the unity and resolve of the international community and the clear legitimacy of any subsequent military action. Ireland would have been prepared to support a resolution of the Security Council to enforce its decisions, had that been agreed. Resolution 1441 did not specify that a further resolution was required to authorise the use of force. This would simply not have been acceptable to either Britain or America, both of which have [109]veto powers on the council. These two countries have long held the view that earlier Security Council resolutions already mandate the use of force and that no further authorisation is required. They are now acting on this belief.

  The Government is deeply disappointed that the Security Council has been unable to agree a course of action. We had hoped that the international community would have been able to act in unison. It is essential in the days to come that the Security Council should work to re-establish a unity of purpose and action. The world needs an effective United Nations organisation. In the weeks to come, the people of Iraq and the wider region will need the support and assistance that only a united and cohesive United Nations can provide.

  To return to an issue that has been discussed here in the past, I have just returned from a five day visit to East Timor where I witnessed at first hand the positive role the UN is playing in helping this fledgling democracy. The East Timor experience shows how strong a force for good the UN can be when its members act in a united manner. There is no doubt that the recent developments in this crisis have the potential to weaken the authority and standing of the United Nations. The Government is committed to working to ensure that the UN will overcome this crisis and continue as the centre of an effective system of collective international security.

  The conflict will carry tragic consequences for the combatants and for civilians. We must hope that it will be short and that its consequences will not spill over into other countries of the region. We urge all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially their obligations toward the civilian populations of Iraq and the neighbouring countries. Ireland will not participate in this war and we have undertaken no commitments to the US or its allies.

  In 1990 and 1991, the then Government made clear that the extension of overflight and landing facilities at Shannon did not give rise to any question of Ireland's declaring war or participating in a war in the Persian Gulf. The Government has decided that it will continue to make these peripheral facilities available. This does not change our general policy of military neutrality. In fact, to withdraw these facilities now after they have been available for an unbroken period of more than 50 years would be a radical reversal of long-standing policy.

  Mr. Norris: And a very good one too.

  Mr. T. Kitt: The Government's decision to continue to make the facilities of Shannon available was taken after long and serious consideration. It is a decision taken in Ireland's best interests and does not mark a departure from existing practice extending over several decades. The Government [110]believes that the entire international community must unite in ensuring that the long-suffering people of Iraq receive the humanitarian assistance they need to recover from this with the shortest possible delay and that the country can make a rapid transition to the reconstruction phase.

  In relation to the humanitarian situation in Iraq, my thoughts and concerns are with the Iraqi civilian population caught up in this conflict. We are carefully monitoring the evolving scenario in Iraq in order to gauge the precise needs of those directly affected. Our primary focus is always on the most vulnerable sections of the population and especially on those whose capacities to cope have been severely eroded over the years. The impact of this conflict on women, children, the elderly and displaced persons is of particular concern to me. In order to target assistance to these sections of Iraqi society, Ireland has made significant contributions to UNICEF and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

  In 2003 Ireland has contributed nearly €15 million to these agencies for their global operations, including emergencies. The funding has not been earmarked in order to give them the flexibility and fast delivery needed to improve effectiveness and save more lives. Our direct assistance to Iraq has been targeted at relief programmes in nutrition, water and sanitation, rehabilitation of health services and Iraqi refugees in Iran. Our partners in Iraq include Trócaire, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and UNICEF. I have recently approved funding of €500,000 to support emergency start-up costs for key Irish NGOs. The money will enable them to respond to major humanitarian crises in a more effective and timely manner. They will be able to either engage or scale up their response to this particular crisis, if they wish to do so.

  Iraq's basic social fabric was under great strain before hostilities commenced. Its human development indicators have deteriorated rapidly in recent years. It has fallen from 96th place on the UN human development index in 1991 to 127th – no other country has fallen so far in that time. This deterioration manifests itself in higher rates of infant mortality, increased malnutrition, a high prevalence of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. The most immediate concern relates to 240,000 children in Iraq who have been undergoing nutritional rehabilitation as well as the 140,000 malnourished pregnant women in need of supplemental feeding. The number of low birth weight babies has increased fivefold in recent years, which indicates serious maternal malnourishment.

  Iraq's health care system is close to collapse – perhaps it has already. Most hospitals are estimated to have enough medicines for between three and five weeks. Central stocks, of which there are enough for three or four months, are [111]unlikely to be available during the conflict as transport networks are disrupted. The main health hazards to the Iraqi population are communicable diseases and maternal risk, non-communicable and chronic disorders. The risk of a measles epidemic is of specific concern in the light of falling immunisation and population movements. Reports by UNICEF and Oxfam have stressed the importance of the link between Iraq's electrical supply capacity and public health. Most Iraqi people depend on potable water and sewerage systems that rely on electricity. A legacy of the Gulf War is that electricity generation capacity is badly degraded. Further damage as a result of the current conflict could deprive millions of urban dwellers of access to clean water, leading to epidemics of preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and respiratory infections.

  The policies of Saddam Hussein's regime have created a large problem of internal displacement, even in advance of the new war. A deliberate attempt to Arabise the key oil producing centre of Kirkuk has driven Kurdish civilians north into the three northern governorates close to the border with Turkey. The Marsh and Shi'i Arab communities have also been targeted for persecution. A recent study estimated the number of internally displaced people in Iraq at around 900,000, over 300,000 of whom are located in the central and southern regions controlled by the Iraqi regime. The balance are located in the autonomous northern zone.

  The refusal of Saddam Hussein's regime to comply with UN resolutions, as well as the resulting sanctions, have left approximately 16 million Iraqi people dependent on Government rations for their food supply through the oil for food programme. The population has become more vulnerable as a result of the suspension of the programme. The UN Secretary General, Mr. Annan, has asked for the necessary flexibility to address the humanitarian situation in relation to it. While the details of a possible resolution which would give effect to the Secretary General's proposals have yet to be studied in detail by the Government, I welcome moves to reinstate the programme with an enhanced centrality for the United Nations.

  Although the humanitarian situation in Iraq threatens to become more difficult as a result of the start of hostilities, the challenges faced by the international community can be met. Valuable experience and lessons have been gained from similar humanitarian situations such as the recent one in Afghanistan. We must aim to avoid the mistakes of the past and incorporate the lessons learned in a practical way in our humanitarian activities. Experience in countries which have emerged from conflict demonstrates that one of the key principles of recovery is effective co-ordination. I cannot over-emphasise the importance [112]of the United Nations in all phases of the international response to this crisis, particularly in securing the effective mobilisation of support from bilateral donors and international agencies. The United Nations has the range of skills and experience necessary to provide for the co-ordination and leadership of an effective humanitarian effort to be followed by recovery and reconstruction.

  Over the past few weeks I had a number of informal contacts with international organisations and NGOs to discuss contingency planning in respect of Iraq. Our Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York and Geneva are in close contact with the Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant humanitarian agencies about their plans. I invited key NGO partners in Ireland to meet me next Tuesday to discuss the unfolding situation and the likely scenario for Ireland's humanitarian response to this crisis.

  The Government's global humanitarian assistance budget for 2003 is €23 million. Priority is given to funding the most vulnerable groups in least developed countries, with a particular emphasis on Africa. Iraq will now become an additional part of our humanitarian programme. The Government will respond as generously and as effectively as possible to the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Iraqi people in their time of greatest need. We will fund those agencies and NGOs optimally placed to deliver the wide range of basic needs and services which will be essential to protect those most at risk.

  The Government promised that in the event of conflict breaking out, the issue would be debated in the Oireachtas and this promise has been honoured. A vigorous debate took place in the Dáil yesterday. There were many thoughtful contributions and the Government acknowledges the sincerity with which the different sides in this debate hold their views. This is not a time for recrimination or triumphalism. We must respect the freedom of speech which is guaranteed here but denied in Iraq. There have been divisions within the Security Council, within the European Union and within the international community at large. We need to look to the future. This is a time to begin repairing those divisions. Kofi Annan, who has been so prominent a figure in defence of peace, put it very well when he said “Let us not dwell on the divisions of the past. Let us confront the realities of the present, however harsh, and look for ways to forge stronger unity in the future.”

  The process has already begun in the European Union which saw deeper division over this issue than over any other foreign policy issue for many years. The statement issued by the European Council last night recognises that we face a new situation with the beginning of the military conflict. The statement identifies the common challenges facing the EU and the objectives which it is determined to pursue. Crucially, the European [113]Heads of State or Government renewed their commitment to the fundamental role of the United Nations in the international system and to the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and stability.

  In this House, we can all agree that we regret deeply that conflict has broken out and hope that it will be as short as possible and incur minimum loss of life. We are also all agreed that the United Nations must continue to play its role at the centre of the collective international security system. At the end of the day, the world needs the United Nations. The international order is coming under assault from new and multiplying problems. Without an effective United Nations there will be disorder and lawlessness. Ireland will do all in its power to reinforce respect for the UN system.

  I conclude by commending the motion to the House.

  Mr. Bradford: I thank the Minister of State for his attendance and for his contribution to the debate. I wish to formally move Fine Gael's amendment to the motion.

  An Cathaoirleach: As only one amendment can be before the House at any time, the Labour Party's amendment cannot be moved until that tabled by Fine Gael has been disposed of.

  Mr. Bradford: I move amendment No. 1:

    To delete all words after the fifth paragraph and substitute the following:

    – Noting that UN Resolution 1441 was unanimously adopted, demonstrating that agreement can be achieved by the UN Security Council;

    – Noting that in welcoming Resolution 1441, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said on 8th November, 2002, that the Resolution provided for a clear sequential process whereby the inspectors would report back to the Security Council, which would assess compliance, make a decision on whether material breach had occurred and what ensuing action is appropriate';

    – Noting the Government's stated objective of preserving the primacy and importance of the Security Council as stated in Dáil Éireann on numerous occasions;

    – Noting that the Taoiseach told the Dáil on 13th November, 2002, that Resolution 1441 was ‘not a mandate for military action';

    – Noting that securing a second UN Resolution was described as a ‘political imperative' by the Taoiseach as late as 19th February, 2003;

[114]    – Noting the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Dáil Éireann on 11th February, 2003, that ‘force should only be used as a last resort when every other possibility has been tried and failed';

    – Noting that Dr. Hans Blix, Chief UN Weapons Inspector has stated that a critical path to a solution to the situation could be found in a short time using Resolution 1284;

    – Noting that a second Resolution was considered so important that it was pursued at the UN until Monday last when it was withdrawn;

    – Noting the protection which the UN Charter gives not only for collective security but for the existence of neutral countries under that security and that neutrality could not exist without respect for the UN Charter;

    – Noting that there is no immediate threat to the security of the region from Iraq unlike the Kuwait invasion which gave rise to the Gulf War;

    – Noting that the UN was established to prevent a repeat of the failure of collective security by the League of Nations and the subsequent death of 60 million people in the Second World War;

    – Expresses its earnest hope that military action, should it occur, will be of short duration and that loss of life and destruction will be kept to a minimum;

    – Declares its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq;

    – Calls on all parties to any conflict to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Conventions;

    – Noting the close economic and personal ties between Ireland and the United States and the United Kingdom and the enormous contribution which both countries have made to international security;

    – Resolves, on the basis of the facts now known:

      – that it opposes and cannot participate in, or support, in any manner, the war which has commenced;

      – that Ireland should work actively to restore the authority of the UN;

      – that Ireland explore the humanitarian steps it can take to relieve the suffering which will result from this war; and

      – that the Taoiseach should raise at the European Council, the involvement of [115]the EU and the UN in the provision of humanitarian relief and the reconstruction of Iraq following the war.

The amendment is helpful and considerate in terms of trying to deal with this difficult matter. During the recent debate in the House on the Iraqi crisis, we referred to the prospect of war and we all expressed the hope that it would not come to pass – but it has done. I concur with what the Leader and Senator Ryan said earlier in regard to the manner in which the war, to date, has been presented, namely, as if it is some kind of game – a toys for big boys approach. The brutal reality is that, as we speak, people are being threatened and killed, as will always happen in the context of war. Let us hope that, regrettable as it is, the war will end shortly and with the minimum possible loss of life.

  As far as I am concerned, Saddam Hussein is the cause of this war. I observed the protests both at home and elsewhere and I accept that the vast majority of the people involved are genuine, well-meaning and well-intentioned. However, I also noted, with some regret, the anti-Amercianism that has been evident.

  Mr. Norris: Rot.

  Mr. Bradford: I hope we can have this debate in a rational fashion and Members can feel free to say what they wish. I am willing to listen to every viewpoint and ask that Members also listen to me.

  Unfortunately, in recent weeks a very simplistic view of what has brought this about has emerged. I do not agree that this war is about oil. It is happening because since 1990 or 1991 Saddam Hussein has played ducks and drakes with the international community and the United Nations. He has flouted resolutions and ignored the rule of international law. Sadly, we have now reached the stage where the Americans and the British have decided to take unilateral action. I would be much happier if there was a second United Nations resolution, as would all Members of the House. Regrettably, we do not have it.

  The Fine Gael Party has presented its analysis of the situation and expressed its regret at the fact that war is taking place without the support of the United Nations, which means we have to look at it in a different light. That said, I repeat that I see the core of the problem as being one man's dictatorship: a man who murdered his own people; invaded a neighbouring country; used weapons of mass destruction; and used chemical and biological weapons and, if he could, would do so again. The international community certainly needed to intervene but it would have been more correct and effective if it had been done under the auspices of the United Nations, as was the case in 1991. Questions must be asked about the future role and direction of the United Nations. [116]The fact that both it and Security Council have been divided poses questions that require to be addressed as soon as possible.

  A further cause of concern is the division apparent within the European Union. I hope, as a result of the EU leaders' meetings yesterday and today, that some progress will be made in resolving the divisions brought about by France and, to a lesser extent, Germany, taking a different stance from that of Britain. As in all conflicts, it is not a question of all right and all wrong.

  I was also disappointed by the rather dismissive attitude of the French President of the viewpoint of some of the emerging countries of eastern Europe which expressed their views on the Iraq crisis. Their views were dismissed as if they were almost the second-hand comments of second-rate countries. In a Europe of equals everybody must be listened to and everybody's argument must be given equal weight. This was not a particularly helpful intervention by President Chirac and I hope it is not indicative of what is to come in a bigger European Union. We must all try to work together.

  Where do we go from here? We have to try to put the focus back on the United Nations, something the Government must address as a matter of urgency. The United Nations has been seen to have failed on the issue. Resolution 1441 appeared to provide a very detailed route map as to how to the Iraqi problem could be resolved. It was fully supported in this House and by the people.

  As a result of the resolution, there was an expectation that the weapons inspectors would make a report which we then would be able to evaluate and take the further action necessary. It must be conceded that the Government, from the Taoiseach down, had indicated that a resolution to follow 1441 would have to be agreed. This has not happened. While I am not happy that the United States, Britain and Spain decided to act outside the ambit of the United Nations, they have done so and we must now deal with it.

  A new language of war is now being employed. We have heard of “surgical strikes”, “targets of opportunity”, etc. The reality in this war, as in all wars, is that people will be killed. As a neutral country, Ireland must express serious concern about this. In the weeks and months to come we will have to look at the question of neutrality and how it now applies to Ireland. We must ask where Irish neutrality now stands, particularly arising from the issue of Shannon Airport. The Government claims that Ireland is as neutral as has traditionally been the case. However, Shannon Airport will continue to be used in the build-up to this war that does not have UN backing. I find this difficult to accept. This would not have been the position of the main party in Government 20 or 30 years ago. How can we allow Irish facilities to be used while arguing that a second UN resolution should have been implemented?

[117]  Two or three countries are now acting outside the ambit of the United Nations. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have suggested that up to 40 countries are involved in what they term the “coalition of the willing”. When one looks at the list of countries, it is interesting to note the limited support of the countries of eastern Europe. While it may be described as a “coalition of the willing”, it is clear that the efforts are being driven by the United States and Britain. Against the backdrop of the debates we have had in the Oireachtas and what the Taoiseach said about the desirability and necessity of a second resolution, the Minister of State has serious questions to answer about the issue of Shannon Airport.

  The debate on the use of Shannon Airport has focused, to a certain degree, on economic concerns. It would be disappointing if our attitude to the war in Iraq was dictated to by economics. My attitude to what is happening in Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein is based on his past record and the threat, or supposed threat, he poses. It is not the economics of Shannon Airport that should be debated. We should be debating whether Ireland, as a supposedly neutral nation which has advocated the primacy of the UN and the absolute necessity of a second UN resolution, can change horses mid-stream. We should also ask whether, in the absence of a second resolution, we can allow Irish facilities to be used.

  What we are doing is somewhat like dancing on the head of a pin. I do not believe that the circle can be squared in this instance. We are being disingenuous if we claim our political and military neutrality can remain the same if forces on their way to war are using Irish facilities. This will have to be addressed clearly in the coming weeks and months in order to present an honest assessment of our current standing.

  The Fine Gael amendment is a balanced presentation of the facts and attempts to give meaning to what the people want. While Irish people want to see the Iraqi people freed from the tyranny and dictatorship they have lived under for 20 years or more, we want to see this change brought about peacefully. We want the UN to drive that change rather than seeing it achieved on foot of a solo run by American and British armed forces.

  Regrettably, war has now commenced and lives will be lost. Some neighbouring Arab states have kept open the offer to take Saddam Hussein and members of his family and military leadership into exile. I hope he would consider that, even at this late stage, as it would allow the Iraqi people to return to some kind of normality. When this war is over, there will be a huge role for the UN and EU in ensuring the regime put in place in Iraq will be composed of Iraqi people. It must be a regime that ensures the country's major asset, namely, oil, will be used to repair the damage done to the people during the past 20 or 30 years. I know the Government will attempt to play its part in this.

[118]  This is a hugely complex subject. It would be an ideal world if we could run up banners that say no to war and all the problems would go away. Sadly, it is not as simple as that. This country has always deferred to the UN and we must try to ensure it will be the focus of attention in the coming months. We must also hope that the UN will address its internal problems and ask why it has failed on Iraq over the past decade.

  I spent some time in Baghdad before the first Gulf War. At that stage, it was a civilised city in a civilised country with civilised people. However, those people had also been cowed into silence, they lived in fear and hoped for a new dawn. It was clear the people lived in fear and hoped for a new dawn. There has not been a new dawn and it will not happen under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. Ireland, in conjunction with the UN, must try to bring about this new dawn as soon as possible by ensuring Iraq has a Government and leadership that will give its people new hope and repair the damage that has been done over the past 20 years.

  Mr. McHugh: I second the amendment.

  Mr. Norris: Did Senator Bradford propose the amendment? It did not sound like it to me. The content of the Senator's speech did not sound like support for the amendment.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: The amendment has been proposed and seconded.

  Mr. Mooney: Once again, I welcome the Minister of State to the House. His role is now central to the unfolding events in the Gulf region in the context of the humanitarian response of the international community. I am sure all sides of the House will join with me in expressing our deepest sympathy to the families and relations of the 12 soldiers who died in a tragic accident in Iraq, following the downing of a helicopter last evening. It brought home to me and many other people—

  Mr. Norris: What about the four civilians who were killed in Baghdad last night by American bombs?

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Senator Mooney, without interruption.

  Mr. Mooney: It brought home Ireland's indirect role, given that Irish citizens, wearing the uniform of other countries – as has been the case for centuries – are involved in this conflict. We should remember that we are dealing with a human tragedy. I echo the remarks of Senator Norris and others that, in any conflict, it is the innocent who suffer. This is a sad occasion because events of the past few weeks have underlined a failure of leadership at European Union and UN Security Council level.

[119]  However, there have been some shining lights in this disaster. I applaud the leadership of the Taoiseach and the Government. There comes a time in international relations when events need decisions which are sometimes difficult and unpalatable to make, yet that is what brings out leadership qualities. The Government made a collective decision in relation to the Shannon stop-over and overflights. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made what I regard as the political speech of his career. Those of us who heard it could not help but be moved by his conviction, whether one agreed. There were many passionate and committed contributions in the Dáil yesterday on both sides of the argument. As the Minister of State pointed out, they too are to be respected. I take the cue from a comment he made near the end of his speech, when he said, “This is not a time for recrimination or triumphalism. We must respect the freedom of speech which is guaranteed in this country but denied in Iraq.”

  I spoke on the previous Iraq motion about the primacy of the United Nations as far as this country's international relations were concerned, and said that it was a plank of our foreign policy and that our commitment to the United Nations Security Council was paramount. It could not be otherwise because this is a small country which does not have a military power or tradition. America is a large power and now the only superpower in the world and it has its particular foreign policy priorities.

  The thread that has run through this debate and others in both Houses subsequent to the 1991 Gulf War, is the de Valera policy, and that of Sean Lester, the last Secretary General of the League of Nations, which is that collective security is the best guarantor of international security for small nations like Ireland. When that fails, chaos and anarchy reign, as was the case following the failure of the League of Nations in the 1930s and the Second World War. The United Nations arose out of that situation and a stronger and more vibrant United Nations was built on the mistakes made by the League of Nations.

  Now, for the first time in its history since 1945, there has been a failure of the key elements of the United Nations Charter. One or perhaps two countries, although many others are named in the coalition of the willing, have decided in their best interests that they will take action that has not been sanctioned by the Security Council. That is why this is such a sad day in international diplomacy and, as far as Ireland is concerned, it is a great disappointment. It has presented us with a challenge which is the thread running through the contributions of the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, today and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen yesterday. It is for Ireland and other countries within the international fora, in which we are respected and to which we have [120]signed up, to use the influence we undoubtedly have to try to bring together and influence events, now that the war has started.

  There is no advantage to be gained in going over the ground of the last few weeks because we are faced with a new reality – the war has started – and we must live with the consequences of that decision. I hope that, following on the statement issued last night by the leaders of Europe, they see the restoration of unity as an imperative. That is the most positive aspect of the statement, when one strips away the other aspirations in the resolution. There is a bottom line that there seems to be a willingness among nations with divergent views to work together to try to repair the fault-line which has developed in the European Union as a result of this tragedy. That is the only way forward.

  It will, of course, be difficult because even within Europe today there are deeply divergent views, with France and Germany, on one hand, the pro-war countries, on the other, and a group of countries in the middle such as Ireland, which I hope will be able to influence, bring together and act as a honest broker in the on-going discussions which will be taking place about the restoration of unity within the European Union. Unless the EU can speak with one voice, any suggestion that a unified common foreign policy and defence architecture can be put in place is misplaced.

  For those countries which have lived by the Charter of the United Nations, this must be a grave disappointment and must cause great concern about the future of that body. I am glad that Kofi Annan, the outstanding Secretary General, has moved rapidly to try to ensure that the fractures and fissures that have developed over this event will be healed. It is interesting that, despite the division in Europe, British and French officials are working together towards the establishment of a rapid reaction force to be deployed in Africa to try to stop some of the sordid little wars taking place there.

  Yesterday's debate, and the debate generally over the past week, has been about the morality of war and the morality of countries like Ireland getting involved in war. I wish it were otherwise, but morality has never been high on the agenda where international diplomacy is involved. The last century has seen wars started and countries squashed and run out of existence because of big power claims. It is astonishing to think that, at the start of the Second World War when Nazi foreign policy was to wipe out bolshevism or communism, they signed the infamous Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union when both countries were eyeing up for war. There was no morality in that – it was all about grabbing land and territory, taking Poland out of the equation. It was about Soviet hegemony and Nazi Lebensraum development to the east.

[121]  Over the past number of years, where has the morality been in America's dealings with South America?

  Mr. Norris: Hear. hear.

  Mr. Mooney: Where has the morality been with Australia's perfidious act with Indonesia to deny the people of the newly-emergent nation of East Timor their natural oil resources?

  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Mr. Mooney: Where has the morality been, as Mugabe runs around desecrating his country, devastating its economy and allowing murderous thugs to kill innocent people on their farms with, to use the awful term, gay abandon? Where are the people who have been talking about morality and questioning the human rights abuses of the Saddam Hussein regime over the 20 years he has been in power?

  Mr. Norris: I am certainly on the record of this House in that regard.

  Mr. Mooney: Those of us who work in Dublin will be familiar with the posters put up around this city on a regular basis by the Socialist Party calling for a public meeting outside the GPO about some issue or another. To my knowledge I have not seen one poster over the past ten to 15 years calling on the people of Ireland to protest publicly against the human rights abuses of the Saddam Hussein regime and what is happening in Iraq.

  What is emerging from Iraq, apart from the knowledge we have gained over the years about its murderous regime, would turn one's stomach. Only yesterday on radio an Iraqi citizen talked about Tariq Aziz who, in order to prove his loyalty to Saddam Hussein, personally executed one of his opponents. Tony Blair, in his speech on Tuesday in the House of Commons, referred to a man who in recent weeks had spoken out publicly against the Saddam Hussein regime. He was strung up on a lamp post in a street in civilised Baghdad where he had his tongue cut out, was mutilated and allowed to bleed to death.

  Sadly, there is no morality when it comes to foreign policy issues but we aspire towards morality. President Carter was elected in 1977 on the basis of a moral foreign policy. He put human rights issues to the forefront of American foreign policy. It appears to be a different age now when one considers what has happened since, yet I do not believe his people fully appreciated him. He found it extremely difficult to pursue that policy in office.

  If many of those who are lecturing this Government about morality were put in a position of power and responsibility, what action would they take? Would they, for example, turn their backs on America and Britain in the context of the [122]Shannon overflights? The Taoiseach recently referred to the close relationship between Ireland and America and he put it in very simple terms. He said if ever Ireland, small and all as it is, needed help on Irish matters or within the international arena, he could lift the telephone and speak to the most powerful man in the world within an hour. If there are political difficulties on this island and between these islands, he can call on our political friends on Capitol Hill who will respond, as they have done over the decades, to help us out of our difficulties.

  It is past time that we paid tribute publicly to the active involvement and engagement of the current Bush Administration and Tony Blair's personal commitment to peace and prosperity within and between these islands. That is not said often enough. Because of the historical baggage, politicians are sometimes reluctant to praise a British Prime Minister but I grew up learning about the proactive involvement of another British Prime Minister, Gladstone, in the 1880s, who took initiatives that were bold and against the mainstream at that time in order to give Ireland, on a point of principle, its own parliamentary establishment.

  In the context of European unity, a spokesman for Romano Prodi said we have no illusions, that we are in an extremely difficult international and domestic political situation. I also want to draw to the attention of the House the position of other neutral countries. It has been pointed out, for example, that Austria has refused to allow US troop movements through its country but what has not been stated is that Austria is precluded under its constitution from permitting that activity on its soil. It is bound to neutrality by the 1955 state treaty and its constitution, which prohibit membership of military alliances and the establishment of foreign military bases in its territories. Austria would not have regained its freedom from the occupying powers but for that insertion in its constitution because the Soviet Union demanded a guarantee of neutrality before it agreed to its independence.

  We do not have such a neutrality clause in our Constitution. The reason we allowed the Shannon stop-over has been explained already in great detail. Belgium, for example, which, with France and Germany, has been to the forefront in opposition to the war, has allowed US troop movements through the port of Antwerp. Sweden has said that while it concedes that the threat of military action was necessary to pressurise Saddam into complying with UN resolutions, it wanted a peaceful resolution that did not undermine the UN authority.

  In the 1991 debate on the Gulf War on 18 January, the Taoiseach stated:

    The United States may wish to use Shannon Airport for the landing and refuelling of aircraft carrying US forces. Merely to permit the use of a civilian airport in this manner is not [123]of sufficient degree or substance to constitute participating in the war. It would place an extraordinary strain on ordinary language if the mere granting of peripheral facilities could be interpreted as making Ireland a participant in the war.

That was in 1991 when there was a UN mandate. Nothing has changed.

  I applaud the Government's decision in this regard. It has not affected our military neutrality in any way. I have long stated in this House and will state again that we are not neutral. We do not take part in military pacts but when it comes to the difference between good and evil and the difference between the democracies of Britain and America and the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein, I have no difficulty in standing up and being counted because I know which side I am on. I will take democracy any day to thuggery.

  Mr. Norris: This is a very sad day. I also have been in Baghdad but unlike some of the other people in both Houses, I had a blazing, face-to-face confrontation with Tariq Aziz on human rights.

  When I opposed the beef deals on the basis that they were supplying and feeding the Iraqi army, I was criticised by those on the Fianna Fáil benches. Senator Seán Haughey, then spokesman, said what Senator Mooney has, with engaging honesty, echoed here today, that there is no morality in foreign affairs and that even a small country like Ireland cannot afford to take a moral position. That is a disgrace to the Irish people.

  If Senators want to know what I was doing over those years and at the time of Halabja and all the rest of it, I spoke out against those atrocities, unlike Donald Rumsfeld who, having supplied the gas to the Iraqis and encouraged them to use it against the Iranians, embraced Tariq Aziz. Those are the people that the Senators opposite are mixing with and those are the people who are covering their hands with blood today. It does not give me any pleasure to watch the building in which I sat, and then stood and shouted at Tariq Aziz, explode in flames. It is about time we realised the impact of this war on the civilian population who were disregarded by the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

  We tell these horror stories about people being strung up on lamp posts, which possibly happened, but did any one of the Senators opposite object when the United Kingdom Government licensed the sale to some of these countries of a fully equipped torture chamber? Do they remember that? Was there any morality then? If any one of them had the slightest decency, they would cross the floor today and vote against murder, which is what it is.

  I turn to the Minister of State's speech. I feel sorry for this Minister of State because he is a [124]decent man but it is a disgrace that he was supplied with this awful piece of mealy-mouthed hand-wringing. He quoted Dr. Blix. Dr. Blix made it perfectly clear that he wanted more time and that his mission was succeeding. In the period under United Nations supervision, Iraq destroyed 817 of 819 prescribed medium range missiles, 14 launchers, nine trailers and 56 missile launch sites. It also destroyed 73 of 75 chemical or biological warheads and 163 warheads for conventional use. UN inspectors also supervised the destruction of 88,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, more than 600 tonnes of weaponised and bulk chemical weapons agents, 4,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals and 980 pieces of equipment considered key to the production of such weapons. More weaponry was destroyed under the regime of the arms inspectors than in the last little Bush escapade. Let us bear this in mind.

  Let us look at the notion that there is no generally accepted view on the validity of the different interpretations on whether this war is legal. It is plainly and demonstrably a violation of international law. There can be no doubt about it. Whatever way people equivocate here and in the United States of America, 16 of the leading authorities in this area from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge signed a letter sent to The Times a week ago stating there was no possible doubt. The Pope has said that in doing this, the United States and the United Kingdom have abandoned international law. Kofi Annan indicated as much as he can in his difficult situation that this is the clear view of the head of the United Nations. Where does that leave Members opposite? It leaves them making the case for the United Nations to be nothing other than a rubber stamp for people like Bush. I personally find that absolutely disgusting.

  The Minister of State said Ireland would not participate in this war. Does he know anything about law? Does he know what is the legal definition of the word “participation”? It is “knowingly giving assistance to”. That is a simple phrase which should be comprehensible to anybody. In the light of that legal definition, is there any doubt that we are giving assistance knowingly to the United States of America by refuelling its aeroplanes? As somebody asked at the demonstration last night at the United States Embassy where I was proud to be – I am not a member of any of these crank groups which Senator Bradford in his disgraceful speech tried to tar – if one knew that an armed robbery or bombing was going to take place and knowing this put petrol in the tank of the vehicle used, would one not be responsible, both legally and morally, for it? That is what we are doing. We know we are fuelling vehicles with bombs in them. That is participation. Will the Minister of State, please, not dishonour this House by lying? He should tell the truth and say it like Senator Mooney. There is no morality, in which we are not interested. He should say it like Kevin Myers, that we need to [125]be on the side of the big boys, that Bush is going to win and we have to be on the side of the winners. That is the Minister of State's morality but the people defy it. Some 100,000 protested in O'Connell Street and more will do so.

  The Taoiseach says there is a precedent for the use of Shannon Airport dating back to the Vietnam War. Is he proud of this? Does he remember what happened in Vietnam? Does he know that Henry Kissinger was criminally implicated in the annihilation of 500,000 civilians in a neutral state, Kampuchea, and is afraid to come to Europe because he will be arrested for it? Is that what we want to remember with pride? Have we no shame? I say the same to the United States of America. It should stop the guff, tell it like it is, say this is about oil, power and manipulation. Look at its pathetic string of allies which are not willing; they are the bullied and the bribed. Did Members not see the cheque books out in Ankara? However, even the Turks had the guts to turn it down, they had no stomach for this kind of thing but we have. We are happy to do it because we are afraid that some of the multinational corporations might take their greasy little jobs away from Shannon Airport.

  The Tánaiste asked a few questions in the Dáil yesterday. I applaud her because she asked some of the right questions which I would like to answer. She said, “To withdraw permission now … would be questioning the honesty of their stated security concerns.” Who could do otherwise? They have lied all the way. They lied about a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. They are completely antithetical, they cannot stand each other. That was a lie. They have lied consistently. I do not have time to indicate all the lies. If we had any decency and morality – although we have been told we do not and cannot afford it – we would question their honesty and the security concerns. We would be sitting as judge and jury on the legality of their actions. We would be saying it is irrelevant for them to cite 17 UN resolutions in support of their actions. What about the resolutions on Israel? I am a friend of Israel but we are prepared to stand idly by and see a peace activist bulldozed into the dirt in Palestine by the Israelis, we say and do nothing about it. I am ashamed of what is happening. Is this war even going to work? Personally, I hope it does not. It would be better to have a big mess and have to clear it up. That is where we are going.

  Vice-Admiral Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton, deputy chief of defence staff from 1992 to 1995, criticised the lack of debate over whether attacking Saddam Hussein “is the best use of our scarce financial and human resources.” He voiced the suspicion that “either our policy makers in Whitehall have led our inexperienced Prime Minister up a disastrous and mistaken path or that vanity and naiveté have obscured truth and clouded good judgment.”

[126]  We must also ask about the impact of this war on the civilian population of Baghdad, half the population of which are under the age of 16 years. One in four children is malnourished. What condition are they in to resist this kind of operation launched against them by these evil people in pursuit of money? Mr. Bush has the effrontery to make these speeches in front of a neon cross. I am a Christian, too, and he does not speak in my name. It is a blasphemy for him to do so. Let him read the Bible. I know he was previously more acquainted with the bottle than the Bible to which he might turn his attention and think of a few phrases such as “the love of money is the root of all evil”. That is what is behind this war, the love of money, nothing else.

  The Minister for Foreign Affairs said in February this year that “force should only be used as a last resort when every other possibility has been tried and failed.” However, it has not been tried and not failed. I deprecate the attacks on Jacques Chirac. For once the French stood up for something that was decent and moral.

  I want to nail this nonsense about being anti-American. There was a marvellous programme on television the other evening called “America on trial”. One large section of the audience were Americans who said it should not be America on trial but Bush. They stood with the European people objecting to what was being done in their name. Some 1,400 people were arrested yesterday protesting in San Francisco, even despite the fact that the American public is deprived of accurate information on much of this stuff by the alliance of Bush, Blair and Murdoch who, of course, is going to get his reward. There is going to be further deregulation of the media industry in the United States of America. How do Members think Blair got in? That is a real little murder triangle. The public should beware these people.

  I am not anti-American. I strongly disapprove of its current President and its highly dangerous military and foreign affairs adventures but know the vast majority of Americans can distinguish between criticism of the Bush regime and hatred of America from where I have just returned from my third visit since Christmas. I have many greatly loved friends there. I know it to be a country of extraordinary natural beauty and human vitality, all of which makes it all the more tragic that the present regime is pursuing a course of criminal folly. I know also that because of the control of the news by pro-Bush media such as Rupert Murdoch, the people do not have access to accurate information. Yesterday the media stated three quarters of the Iraqi army had capitulated and surrendered but it turned out to be only 17 soldiers. The scud missiles supposed to have been fired turned out not to be scud missiles.

  One of the favourite tactics of Bush's European fellow travellers, of whom we have a few here today, is to discredit their opponents by sug[127]gesting they are soft on Saddam, on which my record is clear and I am not going to go over it again. Saddam Hussein, like Osama Bin Laden, is a creature of a corrupt American foreign policy. Bush is only President by virtue of a very murky election process in which, despite the gerrymandering of the Florida electorate, he still managed to receive less votes than Al Gore. It was a coup organised by the military-industrial complex against democracy. He is a man of absolute shamelessness. Like Senator Mooney, he has invoked the spectre of the Nazis, serenely bypassing the fact that his grandfather, Prescott Bush, in collaboration with Fritz Thyssen, actually financed the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and continued to support him with money and materials during the Second World War. Matters reached such a pitch that on 29 October 1942 the United States alien property custodian, under the Trading with the Enemy Act, seized the shares of one of Prescott Bush's companies, Union Banking Corporation. On 17 November 1942 another company, Silesian American Corporation, managed by Prescott Bush, was also seized because it was supplying coal and steel to the Nazi war industry and financing the German Steel Trust which was responsible for between one third and one half of Nazi iron and explosive production. This was done in association with Friedrich Flick, friend and financial supporter of Heinrich Himmler.

  According to John Loftus, author of Secret War Against The Jews, recent information confirms the direct line between the Bush empire and the profits of slave labour from Auschwitz concentration camp. The motto “business is business” seems to have prevailed among the Bush family even during the past decade, when most of its business associates did not disdain profiting from investment by the Bin Laden family. This irony may not bother Mr. Bush at all, as he has consistently displayed a disjuncture between language and reality, as on the celebrated occasion that he described Ariel Sharon as “a man of peace.” This surely entitles him to be regarded as one of the great defilers of language.

  The Bush Administration was never disposed to giving the arms inspectors a chance. The position of the chief weapons inspector, Dr. Hans Blix, was already called into question in January when Mr. Bush referred to the United Nations team as “so-called inspectors.” Consider the proof the Americans and their allies produced. British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, could only produce a second-hand, out-of-date university thesis. No real and credible threat is posed by Iraq. In the 1970s a group called Team B took responsibility for assessing the Soviet military threat. Whenever it failed to pinpoint weaponry, the assumption of the US Administration at the time was that the Soviets must have hidden it. [128]The same psychology lies behind the current war against Iraq.

  Who are the people in the Bush Administration leading this war? They are the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld; the Chief-of-Staff, Paul Wolfowitz; the Vice-President, Dick Cheney; Louis Libbey and the notorious Richard Perle, who claimed in a newspaper article that the war would finish the United Nations and that it was about time. These are the allies of Members on the other side of the House. The Bush Administration has also reintroduced Elliott Abrams, a veteran of the Iran-Contra scandal who was indicted for false testimony and is now heading up the Middle East policy section of Bush's National Security Council.

  What is the purpose of this war? To adapt President-speak, read my lips – it is the oil industry, stupid. Can anybody who saw the remarkable documentary on RTE television about the US role in Venezuela doubt this? The United States attempted three times to get rid of President Hugo Chavez and replace him with an oil executive. He, in turn, appointed a pseudo Attorney General who, “in the name of democracy,” decided to dissolve the national assembly and abolish the electoral supervision group. If Mr. Bush is fighting for democracy in Iraq, that is the type of democracy for which he is fighting. I warn this House against it.

  Bush has given us the litmus test by which he judges those states which are a danger to humanity – the possession of weapons of mass destruction, the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons, the training of terrorists and the export of terrorism, the defiling of the environment and possession and potential use of nuclear weapons. By these tests, his Administration and the sad record of American foreign policy score a full ten out of ten. The largest stocks of anthrax in the world are held by the United States, which manufactured in Maryland the very anthrax that it gave to Saddam Hussein. The current Administration has been openly gloating about the possession of new and terrible weapons like the microwave bomb and the MOAB which spreads inflammable fog over its target and then sets it alight to create an explosion as powerful as an atomic weapon. Does this remind Senators of anything – Blitzkrieg, Joseph Gobbels, total war? Is this beginning to ring a warning bell?

  The United States has systematically exported terrorism to South America through the notorious School of the Americas, which trained the death squads that are the curse of Latin America—

  Mr. Mooney: The Senator should give others a chance to speak.

  Mr. Norris: The Americans have fomented coups, revolution and disorder in friendly neigh[129]bouring democracies. They have sabotaged the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty outlawing the production of chemical and biological weapons, and the protocol establishing the International Criminal Court because they are afraid of being caught out, as well as various anti-nuclear regimes. We must avoid shaming ourselves again. God save America, Vive la France.

  Mr. Minihan: I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate on an issue of grave international importance. In Iraq, the cradle of civilisation, tens of thousands of men and women are engaged in the most uncivilised endeavour known to man – armed conflict. Much has been said about the rights and wrongs of this conflict and views vary. We should be thankful that we live in a democracy in which we can hold different views and feel confident in expressing them. I respect those differing views. Nowhere were such differences more evident than in the House of Commons recently when Robin Cook and Prime Minister Blair both made passionate, sincere speeches. Who is right? We are not in position to answer now. We must leave it to historians to judge in the future.

  I wish to address Ireland's role in the resolution of the conflict in Iraq and its relations with the protagonists. In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, all are losers. So said Neville Chamberlain in 1938. As a former United Nations peacekeeper, I can only concur with those sentiments. War and its aftermath are never pleasant. Death, destruction and destitution are the inevitable lot of the so-called losing side, while their opponents will suffer psychological problems for years to come. War, terrorism, genocide, mass murder and injustice are all evil. All human acts are committed by mankind. We live in an imperfect world run by imperfect people making imperfect decisions.

  War is also a sign of failure on the part of the international community to act as one, and in good time. In 1936 the League of Nations failed to act when, in contravention of the Versailles treaty, Germany occupied the Rheinland. That failure lead inexorably to the Second World War. More recently, the United Nations and the European Community procrastinated as conflict unfolded in the Balkans. The atrocity in Srebrenica, on a day of shame for all right-minded people, was yet another example of inaction. Perhaps the present situation in Iraq offers another example. Had the United Nations acted sooner and with more resolve in the face of Saddam Hussein's repeated and flagrant breaches of the Gulf War ceasefire terms, perhaps we would not be in this position today.

  We should remember that in 1991 Saddam Hussein was given 15 days to submit a full and detailed declaration of his weapons of mass destruction. Some 12 years later, after a further 17 UN resolutions, he has still failed to comply. [130]There is no greater example of the saying that “procrastination is the thief of time”.

  The question we must answer today is what our response should be. What role should Ireland play in this conflict? It is inevitable that we will once again debate the varying interpretations of our stated position of Irish neutrality and whatever action or inaction we now take impinges on those interpretations. I want to make it quite clear that I am not neutral nor neutered in the face of genocide and mass murder and I apologise to no one for having that view.

  We live in a fast changing Ireland where multiculturalism is fast becoming the norm. This presents us with new challenges to accept diversity and to face up to the fact that Irishness is no longer confined to those born and raised on this island but also includes those who have come to live here and those who have emigrated from here. Only this week we looked on with pride as we saw St. Patrick's Day, our national day, celebrated worldwide by Irish people – people who claim Irish heritage. Whether first, second or third generation, it does not matter – they claim to be Irish. The largest Irish communities outside this island are in the United States and the United Kingdom. Having embraced their Irishness on Monday last, are we now to dissociate ourselves from them? We cannot.

  This country should do nothing to antagonise the United State and Britain. If we are to have any influence in the post-war situation, it is vital that we are inside the tent. We are a small nation dependent on continued growth in international trade for our future prosperity. The current divisions between the members of the UN and, more importantly for us, the European Union threatens that trade. After all, a retaliatory trade war between the US, on one side, and France and Germany, on the other, would benefit no one. With EU enlargement now assured, we may see paralysis in the EU decision-making process because of the antagonism between Britain supported by Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on the one hand and the Franco-Germans on the other. Again, no one would benefit.

  Only last week we debated the Convention on the Future of Europe. Europe has no future unless the division at the heart of the Union is healed quickly. It is here that Ireland has a role. Our proud record in the UN, our own history of conflict resolution and even our geographical position make us uniquely qualified to act as a bridge between our European and our transatlantic friends. I urge the Government to use its good offices to facilitate talks between our friends to help heal this damaging rift.

  One might ask where this line of argument is leading. As I stated earlier, if we are to have any influence, we must not antagonise the United States. People pay more heed to suggestions and [131]criticisms from friends than from those they perceive as being hostile. The American people have always stood by us and we, in turn, stood by them in the days following the attacks on Washington and New York. They will not understand if we desert them now. I do not believe in their heart of hearts the Irish people want to abandon America – in fact, it is to our credit that we, the Irish, are ever reluctant to abandon any people, whether American, British, French or, indeed, Iraqi. The Irish people will never desert a people in need.

  I have had the honour of serving with the United Nations on a number of occasions. This country has a proud and honourable record in the service of the UN. Honour demands that we cannot stand aside now. We must be in the vanguard of any humanitarian aid programme for post-war Iraq. Not only should our NGOs be given every assistance by the Government but units of the Defence Forces should be made available to distribute that aid. We can do no less. In saying that, I acknowledge the Minister of State's speech and his commitments in that regard.

  Much of the aid destined for Iraq will come from the United States. It is that country alone which has the resources and the know-how to rebuild Iraq. Indeed, I would argue that it has a moral duty to rebuild Iraq, to heal the wounds of this war, the previous Gulf War and decades of Saddam Hussein's misrule. We should not stand in America's way. We should do all we can with the international community to help rebuild Iraq after the war and to promote democracy so it is a country where citizens need never be afraid to speak their minds and where diversity of religion, culture and thought are not only tolerated but encouraged.

  We must continue to make Shannon Airport and the skies above this country available to US aircraft so that they can fulfil their moral obligation to rebuild Iraq and to give the Iraqi people the future which has been cruelly denied them for the past three decades. Senator Norris referred to the fuelling of war planes at Shannon to bomb the people of Iraq. He said, “Tell it as it is.” That is not how it is. There are no war planes taking off from Shannon.

  Many in this House and in this country will, no doubt, disagree with my views. I respect those opposing views when offered sincerely and not for selfish, political and opportunistic reasons. I am surprised and disappointed by the position adopted Fine Gael. Its idea of proactive foreign policy is to withdraw the use of Shannon from our friend, the US, so as not to antagonise North Korea. Is this the view of a responsible alternative Taoiseach? Is this the party which has a tradition of the responsible conduct of foreign policy in Government? I fear it is not.

  The Labour Party is consistent in its opposition. It is opposed to the future use of Shannon [132]without a further UN resolution, while at the same time it is opposed to the use of Shannon even if there is a further UN resolution. I admire the Labour Party which is consistently inconsistent in its foreign policy. The Green Party has once again shown us its Peter Pan style policies – lofty ideals with no responsibility. What is even more confusing is the fact that it condoned recent acts of vandalism and public disorder in Shannon which contributed to the abandonment of campingn of genuine, unaffiliated peace activists.

  As for Sinn Féin, it lectures us on military conflict, bloodshed, violence and on the slaughter of the innocent. It referred to the conscience of the Irish people, the same people it has terrorised for 30 years. No argument from Sinn Féin is credible on this issue—

  Mr. Ryan: Hear, hear.

  Mr. Minihan: —while it supports a private, illegal army which trades in terror both in this country and abroad.

  Some wild left-wingers accuse President Bush and Tony Blair of being warmongers hell-bent on subjugating a small defenceless nation. I strongly disagree, as would anyone who has seen war. I am reminded of my time in Lebanon where I witnessed profoundly distressing scenes as a result of armed conflict. I also saw the benefits of the UN confronting armed elements. I saw communities return to their villages and to their daily lives as a result of the confrontation of armed elements. I do not accept that such confrontation was immoral or wrong.

  In recent days as I watched world leaders go through the decision-making process, I was reminded of an occasion when having received reports from his various subordinates and advisers, I watched a military commander left alone with his thoughts, knowing that his decision would inevitably lead to the loss of life. I watched that man pace to and fro, the weight of the decision he was about to make clearly visible on his shoulders. I saw that as I watched President Bush pace the White House lawn and in the countenance of Tony Blair as he stood alone at the dispatch box – although alone in thought, he was in the midst of speaking to a packed Parliament and of making a decision.

  Today the lives of ordinary Iraqis and of Anglo-American service men and women – many of Irish descent and who were proud to be Irish last Monday – lie heavily on the shoulders of George Bush and Tony Blair. I pray that God has granted them the wisdom to fulfil with compassion the role destiny has given them. I wish them good fortune in the days ahead but, above all, I hope that the decisions which lie ahead do not become an intolerable weight on their shoulders.

  These are dangerous times for all those living [133]in the Middle East and beyond. Who knows what the days ahead will bring? Perhaps this time next year we will welcome the first democratically elected president of Iraq to this island. Perhaps events in Iraq will stimulate those involved in the Palestinian conflict to reach some kind of rapprochement. I wholeheartedly welcome the announcement that Britain and America are ready to publish their road-map for resolving the conflict in the region.

  Aspects of United States foreign policy are questionable, particularly with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The injustices in the Middle East must be addressed as vigorously as the disarmament of Saddam Hussein if US foreign policy is to be truly credible.

  Mr. Ryan: Not a chance.

  Mr. Minihan: I am happy to support the Government's motion on this grave issue. The time has come for us to grow up as a nation. We can no longer hide behind an à la carte foreign policy. The motion firmly states the Government's position on the war in Iraq, the use of Shannon Airport and the country's commitment to its international responsibilities. It is a carefully measured response and I have no hesitation in supporting and recommending it to the House.

  Mr. Ryan: I doubt if the world is sincere about avoiding conflicts like this in the future, but if it is it must put an end to the arms trade. Every one of the conflicts in the course of my adult life has been spectacularly exacerbated by the determination of a small number of powerful rich countries, of different claims in terms of ideology, to sell weapons to countries they neither needed nor could afford. If we are to engage in anything other than colourful rhetoric about ending conflict in the world, at which we all excel, something must be done to end the international arms trade. If it is not, we might as well stay silent because it is the fundamental cause of the scale of suffering in the world.

  I have repeatedly said in this House that more innocent people die every year as a consequence of the international arms trade than die because of the international drugs trade. Drugs are made by the poor and sold to the rich, while arms are made by the rich and sold to the poor. We must confront this most fundamental moral issue, which has devalued many governments throughout the world, including many social democratic governments in Europe.

  Like Senator Minihan, I am sick of Sinn Féin's posturing. The idea that a party is militarist north of the Border while pacifist south of the Border is the most extraordinary example of partitionism I have seen in my political career. While I have no truck with the Government on this issue, I question Sinn Féin for reprimanding it for ignoring the will of the people when for 30 years they ignored our manifest will that they had no right [134]to use violence in our name. I will take no lectures from them. I am sick of them and I am even more sick when I attend a protest and observe their invisibility.

  I attended a protest meeting at Shannon Airport two months ago at which they were also in attendance but invisible because they did not want their funders in the United States to see their banners, which they kept down. I will take no lectures from that crowd on points of principle and I also agree with Senator Minihan's call for us not to take lectures from them on violence and war because they have no authority and no right to speak in that manner.

  If we are to deal with the sources of conflict we must address the fact that we live in a profoundly unjust world. I commend the decision of Trócaire that while it will be willing to provide large-scale assistance to Iraq, it will not accept funding from the governments of the United Kingdom or the United States because it would see that as an exercise in hypocrisy. I agree with that.

  Senator Minihan's view that war is the most uncivilised thing in which we can engage is profoundly true. When terrorists use violence every drop of spilt blood correctly dominates our television screens, including the brutality of car bombs. However, when we deal with what is called legitimate or state sponsored war, we drop a veil on the human consequences. It is our job as politicians to reiterate that war is uncivilised and brutal. The men and women who participate may be heroic, but the consequences of their actions are brutal in the extreme. That fact cannot be avoided.

  Given that war is brutal and terrifying, we need, above all, institutions and law on a global scale that can prevent it from happening. Éamon de Valera recognised that in a profoundly insightful manner when he supported the founding of the League of Nations. The United Nations followed, but it was stymied by the Cold War. Nevertheless, at least during the Cold War there was real stability, albeit of an unpleasant and disagreeable kind, because two major blocs faced each other.

  However, now there is only one power in the world, if we are to judge in terms of global economic and military reach. That is why, more than ever, international laws and institutions are required. The United Nations is the institution at our disposal but other bodies are emerging, such as the international war crimes and justice tribunals, and the world court at The Hague. These should fulfil a role in terms of dealing with politics, military activities and human rights in the same way as the World Trade Organisation, incipiently at least and with all its limitations, fulfils its role in the area of trade.

  The trouble is that the United States recognises none of the extra-judicial institutions, such as the international court. It is like SIPTU refusing to accept the jurisdiction of Irish Congress of Trade [135]Unions. We need law and institutions but we cannot have them if judgments on what is legal or illegal are made by participants in conflict. The Government has failed in this area because it has ducked the fundamental issues. I have not heard a single member of the Government say whether he or she believes this war is legal. It would be helpful if that were stated. Ministers say that because of the absence of a UN resolution, we cannot participate in the war. Is that because we cannot do so politically or legally? It cannot be done politically because the public would not allow it to happen. Is Ireland legally precluded from doing so? I cannot get an answer from the Government. The Attorney General's advice is that the shameful use of Shannon Airport in this activity is not contrary to our laws or Constitution.

  However, it would be nice to know whether the Government had a view or advice regarding the US, Britain and the other participants, including the heroic leader of Australia, about whom the Minister of State must have heard a little during his recent visit to East Timor. He has scandalously bullied East Timor into handing over significant proportions of its natural resources, withdrawn from international conventions to bully the country and sent 2,000 Australian soldiers halfway around the world to fight a war in the name of freedom, according to him, having conspired to take away the riches that would give a small and recently free country some chance in the world. I hope the Minister of State will have an opportunity to tell the Australian Government the view of the Irish people about that nasty exercise taking place behind the backs of the world.

  The duty of small countries is to protect institutions. The hardest time to do so is when the institutions are threatened. The institutions that should matter to Ireland are the UN, the EU and the world judicial bodies that we are attempting to put in place to develop an international system of justice, which will ensure law is applied and works in this State. That is what our Government should have done. The fundamental flaw in its approach is its equivocation about law. The Government will not say whether, in its judgment, this action is legal.

  Mr. Mooney: The participants believe it is legal.

  Mr. Ryan: That has nothing to do with it.

  Mr. Mooney: They are the people at war. We are not participating.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator Ryan, without interruption.

  Mr. Ryan: If law was based on the judgment of participants, there would be no law at all. Law is applied universally, even-handedly and indepen[136]dently and if there is no independence, there is no law. This action in the Middle East implies there is no law, except the law of brute force.

  Mr. Mooney: That is the Senator's interpretation.

  Mr. Ryan: There is no law.

  Mr. Mooney: The UN resolutions are quite clear.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator Ryan, without interruption.

  Mr. Ryan: I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, I was feeling very threatened. I refer to the statements that America is our closest friend and is the champion of freedom in the world. Senator Norris stated previously that America subverted democracy in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s. In the 1960s it subverted democracy in Chile, in the 1970s it participated in the subversion of democracy all over South America, while in the 1980s it funded brutal right-wing death squads throughout central America. None of this is disputed. Between 1946 and 1990, where did the US use its influence to subvert dictatorships? Yet it was busily subverting fledgling democracies all over the world.

  I have always believed in what the US claims to believe in, which is freedom, liberalism and a liberal social market economy. I believed this before the Soviet Union collapsed and even more so since. However, the US, as a force in the world, represents the opposite of what it claims to stand for and that is the source of most of the world's hostility to that country. It is the perception that what it claims to stand for is the antithesis of what it does. Ask the peoples of Central America, of Latin America, of many countries in Africa. Ask the people of South Africa whose side America was on during the period of apartheid.

  Dr. Mansergh: What about central and eastern Europe?

  Mr. Ryan: Central and eastern Europe collapsed because of the remarkable vision of a Soviet president.

  Dr. Mansergh: It took a little more than that.

  Mr. Ryan: I did not witness US intervention when Soviet tanks crushed the people of Hungary in 1956 or when they crushed freedom in Czechoslovakia in 1968. In both cases the US decided its own interests were better served by leaving tyranny alone.

  Mr. Mooney: Those countries are supporting the US and wanted to join NATO because of the US. The Senator cannot have it both ways.

[137]  Mr. Ryan: We had a Government in the 1980s which was not afraid to tell the US what it thought of its foreign policy. It was a led by Garrett FitzGerald and Peter Barry was Minister for Foreign Affairs. They told Ronald Reagan in Dublin Castle that what he was doing in central America was wrong. We do not always have to toady up to the US when it engages in actions that are wrong. One does not get respect that way. One is taken for granted and that is what is happening to Ireland.

  Much more needs to be said but I will conclude by referring to US chemical weapons. It has 15,637 tonnes of mustard gas, 7,464 tonnes of sarin nerve gas, 4,032 tonnes of VX nerve gas and 1,698 tonnes of another nerve gas. That is how much the US owns. When an international agency wanted to inspect its supplies, the US refused. When the agency persisted, the US subverted its chief executive and caused him to be sacked. Whatever the reasons for this war, and there are many, let us not pretend that morality is at the centre of it because morality it ain't.

  Labhrás Ó Murchú: Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. Bhí mé ana tógtha leis an méid a bhí le rá aige. Tá fhios agam go bhfuil an trua agus an trócaire go smoir ann, nuair a deir sé rud go gcreideann sé rud agus go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh bheith cabhrach.

  Tá sé thar a bheith soiléir le roinnt mí anuas go bhfuil an dá thuairim ann maidir leis an gceist seo, ní amháin san Oireachtas, ach ar na sráideanna freisin. Admhaíonn an Rialtas sin, agus go pointe fáiltíonn sé roimh an dá thuairim. Tá an t-ádh linn go bhfuil seans againn é a phlé, ár dtuairimí a chur amach go hoscailte agus iad a mheas agus féachaint an bhfuil aon tslí gur féidir linn, mar thír beag ach mar seannáisiúin, cabhair agus treoir a thabhairt. Is cuma cé chomh lag is a bheidh an guth sin, tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach go bhfuil seans againn é a úsáid.

  I welcome the Minister of State, whom I admire greatly for his stance on many human rights issues. When it comes to understanding human nature and taking a stand for humanity, he has always been exceptionally courageous.

  Sam Smyth's article in last Wednesday's edition of the Irish Independent should be necessary reading for everyone. It was one of his shortest columns ever. He wrote about the war in Iraq prior to the debate in the Dáil and the article was exceptionally balanced. He pointed out, first, that there were two views. He also pointed to the august opportunity the Dáil and Seanad had to make a balanced, diplomatic and, I hope, understanding contribution to the debate. He further pointed to the House of Commons which is central to the issue. He was able to show how it was possible for people with different views to listen, comprehend and, while not agreeing with, at least respect the views expressed. Many Deputies must have read the article because it was quite clear [138]there was a different tone in the Dáil than during previous debates. The contributions made on all sides were exceptionally considered. Today we are being given an opportunity to express our views, some quite passionate, some well balanced, obviously all very sincere, with a minimum of heckling.

  My view is that the war in Iraq is unjust, illegal and immoral. I could not hide from my conscience without saying so. The Government's motion today underpins this view in more diplomatic and pragmatic language. I praise the Government for tabling an exceptionally well crafted motion. Its role in this case is to bridge the gap between idealism and pragmatism. People are trying to keep their ear exceptionally close to the ground as to the views and interests of others. It was because of the motion that it was possible yesterday to, at least, envision some degree of unity in the debate in order that we could present a relatively united front, not just to the situation as it stood but as it unfolded.

  I salute France because it believes in something which it made quite clear from the very beginning. It indicated that it would use its veto for which, unfortunately, it was demonised. It was most unseemly behaviour on the part of any sovereign Government to tackle it for expressing its view in a fraught situation. I did not hear it doing likewise in the past when America used its veto.

  I have no difficulty saying I am pro-America. I said this in the previous debate. I have greater affinity with America than with many parts of Europe, and that has not changed. Tim Pat Coogan put it exceptionally well on radio this morning when he said, “When a friend cannot stand up and make a point to a friend when they think there is an error in question, that is no friend.” If we do not express what we believe at a given time, we are giving a false impression, whether to America, Britain or anyone else.

  I salute Tony Blair for the contribution he has made to finding a solution to the age old Northern Ireland problem. He has been an inspiration to many of us in that regard. He has been exceptionally courageous because he has had to take the anti-colonial stand which, when it comes to the British Administration, is not easy. At the same time we must listen to world opinion which is not being expressed by those involved in the war which is not an allied one. We can use all the terminology we wish but it is not an allied war. Many smaller countries which have found it necessary to, at least, acquiesce in what is happening have had to do so because they are impoverished and dependent on the big powers. It is not because they have judged it on legal, justifiable or moral grounds as we have seen in the case of Turkey when certain offers have been made. If the big powers did not receive what they required, the offer was to be taken away. This does not form part of any moral code and should not happen.

[139]  Lest anyone thinks I am pro-Saddam Hussein, I make it clear that I am a democrat, I hope, to the extreme. I do not accept under any circumstances that a dictatorship should be allowed to exist or receive succour from any other nation but what about Pinochet? We accepted him because we did not know what was happening. What is incumbent on us, however, is that we are not blinded by the fog of propaganda through which we must be able to get through and judge for ourselves. We will lack information because at this stage we know that everything coming from the theatre of war is being sanitised and that it will be a long time before we fully realise what collateral damage means. It will mean mangled bodies and corpses on every street corner. Am I exaggerating? We need only look at other conflicts to realise that we are not talking about tens, hundreds or thousands of people. Let us extend our sympathy to each human being who will be killed in the conflict, regardless of their position.

  We should salute the Government for the way in which it has handled this crisis. From the first speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the United Nations General Assembly last September, including every comment, every answer to every question and every statement given, the Government has tried at all times to recognise the sovereignty of other nations, the humanitarian issues and, above all, the importance of the United Nations. It did not give credence to what was done by the powers which ignored the United Nations. At all times Ireland has tried to be an honest broker. Anyone who reads the Government's motion could not in all honesty say that, if given the opportunity, the vast majority of the people would not back it. A spokesman from the Vatican – the same echo can be heard in the statements of all church leaders – said those who took it upon themselves to go to war without fully using the avenues of diplomacy had a big responsibility before God, their consciences and history.

  We talk as a friend to Britain and the United Nations by putting down this marker. It would be wrong to suggest that the 40 million people of Irish extraction in North America are all in favour of this war. They look to us for leadership. I am sure this debate has made a major contribution. Whether we agree or disagree with the different views, we express them openly, honestly and sincerely. It behoves us, as a nation with a great tradition of independence and compassion, to do so in the coming weeks and months.

  Dr. Henry: I thank Fine Gael Members for allowing me to share their slot. I welcome the Minister of State. It is quite a challenge to follow Senator Ó Murchú's contribution, for which I salute him.

  Saddam Hussein is an appalling person who has carried out the most dreadful acts on his [140]people over the past 30 years. I point out to the House that for many years we co-operated with his regime. We were only too happy to send meat to feed his army, even if we did not get paid some of the time.

  I am glad the United States has stopped describing this as a war against weapons of mass destruction and has now acknowledged that the objective is regime change. As other speakers pointed out, few nations in the world have a worse reputation with regard to weapons of mass destruction than the United States of America. Senator Ryan referred to the vast US stocks of chemical weapons and we must also remember that country's biological weapons, which include anthrax and smallpox. The USA is, in fact, the only country in the world where anthrax has been used in recent years. Nobody has been arrested for those attacks on innocent civilians within the last few years, with the result that many people are still afraid to open letters delivered by post. When I asked why a person would not open an envelope with a friendly green harp on the front, I was told it is difficult to know who might pretend to be one's friend nowadays.

  Saddam Hussein undoubtedly used chemical weapons against his own people and the Kurds. However, it should also be remembered that America used Agent Orange against the Vietnamese and there is depleted uranium in the deserts of Iraq at present, which is still causing terrible damage to people living in that area. My main concern with regard to the United States relates to an issue I have raised on many occasions in the House – including on two Adjournment debates, the most recent of which was in 2001 – and on which I have also spoken to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. I refer to the attitude of the US towards the United Nations convention on biological weapons and toxins, to which 140 nations signed up very rapidly following its introduction in the early 1970s. One unfortunate feature was the absence of any verification protocol to establish whether people were being truthful when they claimed to have destroyed biological weapons. Many countries which had such weapons in the past now say they got rid of them, but how can we be sure?

  From the early 1990s, a group of like-minded nations met in Geneva and worked hard to bring in a verification protocol. I am glad that Ireland, as the Minister of State will be aware, was one of the leading members of that group. Excellent progress was being made up to the time of President Bush's election in early 2000 and it was hoped that all negotiations would be completed by September. However, in July of that year, President Bush pulled the US negotiators out and said the US would put forward something better. What has happened in the meantime? Absolutely nothing. Consequently, there is no verification protocol and, as Senator Ryan pointed out, there are vast stores of biological weapons within the [141]United States. Some 18 months ago, a courageous biologist named Wayne Harrison stole, from a number of laboratories, various materials such as Ebola virus, anthrax and smallpox, which he presented to the CIA. For his pains, he got a suspended sentence of 18 months, but no action was taken to deal with those weapons of mass destruction.

  After the last Gulf War, I visited Iran to establish if aid from Ireland, through the Red Cross, had got through successfully. To my delight, it had. The Iranians were never given sufficient credit for what they did for the Kurdish refugees who fled, not from approaching Americans but from the advancing Iraqi army. How must the Kurds feel today, in a situation where the Turkish Parliament passed a motion yesterday to allow the Turkish military to invade northern Iraq. Everybody knows how the Kurds will be treated if that happens and they must be praying that the American Army gets there first.

  From my direct observation of that region, I can say that anybody who believes democracy will be brought to Iraq by means of bombs or at the barrel of a gun is sadly mistaken. It is a country of considerable ethnic conflict between the Kurds in the north, the Shi'ites, the Sunnis, the Marsh Arabs and so on. Iraq is not Minnesota and President Bush's approach to this problem is mythical in nature. The establishment of democracy takes centuries, not decades. Last weekend, I visited the 1798 heritage centre in Enniscorthy. I looked at the “tree of liberty” on which the ideas and words of France, America and Ireland in that period are intertwined and reflected on the mess in which we now find ourselves.

  I was sorry to note some features which appeared to be the essence of the Tánaiste's speech in the Dáil yesterday. It is quite pitiful to say we are economically dependant and politically subservient to the US. Senator Ó Murchú has quite rightly described the US people as our friends. However, there are occasions when one has to give one's friends some advice if one believes they are going in the wrong direction. That was certainly not done in this case.

  What will be the Tánaiste's approach if those firms that are establishing operations in the biotechnology park in the west of Dublin city decide they wish to undertake stem cell research on human tissue? President Bush's distinct lack of enthusiasm for having that process take place in America is well known. What if the American firms decide they would prefer to ship it to Ireland? Will our response be the same as that outlined in the Tánaiste's speech yesterday? Will it be a matter of idealism or pragmatism? Will we have to accept whatever those firms will do here, even if it is against the moral thinking of most people in this country? I look forward to the Tánaiste's response in that eventuality.

  In respect of the Shannon stop-over, I understand the position of those who say that, for pol[142]itical and economic reasons, we have to provide facilities. However, we cannot really claim to be neutral in that context. I see it as a sad day for the Irish Army, which has performed outstanding international service for the United Nations. Irrespective of our claiming to be neutral, will that interpretation be shared by other countries in which our Defence Forces may have to undertake a peacekeeping role?

  The current war in Iraq does not even have the imprimatur of NATO. Ireland is actually in a better position to oppose this war than the six smaller countries on the Security Council. It was appalling to witness the manner in which they were being bludgeoned into voting in favour of the United States of America. The USA owns the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, on which those countries are sadly dependent. One such country is Chile which, 19 years to the day before the twin towers disaster had its democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, assassinated in a CIA-assisted coup. We are also aware of the trouble Pakistan is having with its own population. I thank Senator McHugh for his up to date information on what is happening in Afghanistan. Obviously, the news media is not conveying the full story in that regard. There is further conflict in Afghanistan. Friends of mine who have visited Kabul informed me that the situation outside that city is quite dreadful, there is not a single American soldier to be seen and the Canadians and Germans are trying to maintain order.

  I agree with Senator Ó Murchú on the vital role of small countries in trying to keep order in international organisations. I have always maintained that we totally underestimate Ireland's power in that regard. While I feel sure Ireland tried to do more behind the scenes, I regret we did not achieve more in terms of keeping the rule of law, rather than the rule of force, in operation. We are now faced with a unipolar power which is capable of running riot. The French were right to say they would use their veto because they at least spared those six countries on the Security Council the prospect of losing whatever resources they have as a result of voting against the United States. After the last Gulf War, when Yemen voted against the United States, the US ambassador described that action as the most expensive vote that country would ever cast and, indeed, that was the outcome. All funding was withdrawn from Yemen, which is now one of the worst centres of terrorism in the world.

  I wish to make it clear that I am not anti-American; none of us is. I spent some time in America as a student in the late 1960s, when it was a type of Camelot for all of us. It is sad that such a splendid nation, which has been considered so benevolent, is being reduced to a position in which most of the world views it as the greatest bully yet. In the United States Congress a few days ago, a woman who had been asked to take on the task [143]of improving the image of the United States in Islamic countries informed the relevant committee that she was resigning from her job. She had found such a vast difference between the image America wished to project and the reality that it made her task utterly impossible. Therefore, she resigned. I regret to see the United States in the position it is today.

  Dr. Mansergh: I welcome the Minister and his officials to the House. I congratulate the Minister on his excellent speech with its strong emphasis on the humanitarian aspect. It was a fine contribution to the debate.

  I deeply regret the outbreak of war in Iraq and the failure of international diplomacy. I hope the war will finish quickly with a minimum of casualties on all sides and that the international community will be able to come together to reconstruct a freer and more prosperous Iraq.

  Ireland put maximum effort as a member of the UN Security Council and as an EU member into contributing to creating an international framework for the peaceful resolution of this dispute, consistent with our traditional foreign policy principles. Unfortunately, we did not get enough help from Iraq. For a long time, Iraq openly flouted UN inspectors and the limited compliance we have seen only happened when massive force was assembled. I do not find reassuring that, in the past week, funds were sent to the families of suicide bombers and there was a threat to attack Americans anywhere and everywhere in the world, which is effectively an explicit threat of terrorism.

  Other factors also contributed to diplomatic failure such as the tactless comments and insensitivity by some voices in the US Administration, which took other countries too much for granted. There were palpable divisions within the EU – between Britain and Spain on the one hand, and France and Germany on the other. It showed in stark relief the limitations of attempts at large country led common foreign and security policies. I am glad that Ireland did not take sides as between those two groups.

  We all have deep concerns about the long-term implications of the replacement of the doctrine of containment with that of pre-emption, although I am sure that many Members understand the reasons which have led to that change. My problem is not so much with the idea of American hegemony – it is a fact whether we like it – but more with the use to which that hegemony is put. There could be more positive times ahead if America, more than in the past, helps to curtail the duration of long-term, one-party governments and military dictatorships which impoverish and enslave their peoples.

  The breakdown in UN consensus was no fault of ours. We have been faced this week with the absence of a further explicit UN resolution and [144]of a common EU position, which have left us, effectively, to take our own decisions. As far as support for war is concerned, we made clear that a second UN resolution was imperative from our point of view – that remains our position and we do not support war. The absolute consistency in that is an expression of our ideals.

  Senator Ryan raised the question of legality in the international sense. The problem is that international law is a very debatable subject and different views are heard on it. Certainly, many regrettable things were done during the Cold War, some of which have been referred to. On the other hand, America led the side of the world that eventually ended the Stalinist tyrannies of central and eastern Europe. In any part of the world under any system of government, it is appalling that one, two or more generations are made to live under miserable regimes with no freedom and little prosperity.

  Foreign policy must also have regard to the protection of national interests, especially in time of war when passions are heightened. People do not forget attitudes taken in time of war. I do not pretend that the Shannon decision is a comfortable one. The dilemma was that we were forced in some degree to take sides, either to interpret our neutrality flexibly in a manner that accommodated the US or to interpret it rigidly in a manner that was bound to receive a hostile interpretation in the US. While the majority of the Irish public would have strongly preferred no resort to war, it has happened. There was little more we could have done to prevent it and nothing we can do to stop it now that it has started.

  Those who have demonstrated or spoken against the war come from across the political spectrum. Nonetheless – I observed this last night when passing the demonstrations – the hard left are prominent at the core of the anti-war movement, with the Green Party and Sinn Féin. With regard to the latter, for a movement that is still negotiating the end of its war with the British, its commitment to traditional Irish neutrality is touching.

  Mr. Mooney: The Senator is very diplomatic.

  Dr. Mansergh: Argument about Irish interests are misunderstood. I agree with the IDA that decisions to invest in Ireland will not be influenced by the Government decision for or against the use of Shannon. What would be affected is the attitude of the US Administration and Congress which put themselves out for Ireland in the late 1980s over emigration and in the 1990s over the peace process, way beyond any obligation they might have had.

  The funding for the International Fund for Ireland is at present shuttling between the US Administration and Congress. It is the start of a process. The original figure was $25 million but that was cut back by the present Administration [145]to $8.5 million in light of the present situation, although I think it has now been restored to $25 million. However, there is no point in pretending that if we took the decision against the use of Shannon, the decision on US funding would not be affected. There is also the question of a replacement for Mr. Richard Haass and whether that will be somebody of the same high profile. That high profile proved very useful to us over recent years.

  We need to remember that the attractiveness of Ireland to US investment depends on a benign US attitude to our 12.5% tax rate compared to their 30% rate, and the element of transfer pricing which this encourages. Many decisions vital for our future depend less on US interests than on US goodwill. I am not prepared to jeopardise all this for the sake of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

  However, it is important that we do not go overboard. I would not like to see us drawn too far into the Anglo-American sphere of influence at the expense of our relations with the Franco-German partnership in the EU, the support of which was vital to our success over the first 25 years of EU membership. Paris and Berlin are important to us as well as Washington and London.

  Not a year passes but the end of our neutrality is predicted. Dr. Johnson spoke of a nation coming to ruin; similarly, our neutrality keeps miraculously recovering so that it can be irredeemably lost yet again in the next debate. The European model neutrals were no model for us when we decided to join them in the Partnership for Peace or to ratify the Nice treaty. Our geographical situation is quite different from theirs. We are not a participant in the war or a member of a coalition, but I accept none the less that the decision to allow the use of our facilities, which is the right one under the circumstances, does stretch our military neutrality close to breaking point. I am not happy about it, but it was the only responsible decision to take.

  I commend the Government for the way it has handled this difficult situation, although people try to put it in a corner because they are not comfortable with what is going on. On that basis I support this motion.

  Mr. McHugh: I am pleased to have the opportunity of speaking on this very important issue. I agree with my colleague, Senator Bradford, in condemning outright the tinpot dictatorship that is the Saddam Hussein regime.

  A statement issued by the US National Security Council in 1999 states that the USA will continue to have a vital interest in ensuring access to foreign oil supplies. We must continue to be mindful of the need for regional stability and security in key producing areas to ensure access to and free flow of resources such as oil and gas. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to [146]deduce that this is not just about oil or about Saddam Hussein but about a geopolitical necessity in the Middle East. It is a multi-faceted agenda on the part of the USA and western Europe, and the western world in general, in which we are all involved. Eighty per cent of known petroleum reserves are contained between the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and the South China Sea. Everybody from the monkeys in the South China Sea to the dogs in Baghdad knows that this war is about ensuring the free flow of resources from this region. Afghanistan is now part of this US security policy, as is Iraq. Leverage will also be allowed towards Iran in the near future, allowing access to the Caspian Sea.

  President Bush is playing a very dangerous game when it comes to al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia. There is no logical link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. Al-Qaeda was born in the context of military operations by the USA in Saudi Arabia after 1991 and the presence of Crown Prince Abdullah. There is growing concern about anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia. This has helped contribute to the US's reasons for wanting to establish a more strategic presence in Iraq.

  I will not point fingers at anybody. We are all involved in this because of our over-reliance on expendable natural resources. I do not want to come across as a self-righteous person saying we must all cut back on oil and resources, but that is the reality. According to the statistics, by 2050 there will be 13 billion people living on this planet, a rise from today's six billion. Two thirds of known petroleum reserves will be used up in the next 20 years. We cannot sustain our present use of oil or gas. This is a major issue and I know this is not the time to deal with it. However, it is important that we look for alternative means of providing energy. If we do not, there will always be conflict and fighting for resources in the Middle East. It is not about land or imperialism but resources.

  The amendments deal with the use of Shannon and what is going on here and now. The Government has sanctioned the use of Irish airspace and of Shannon Airport by the US. I am in total disagreement with this decision on the grounds that we did not get international sanctioning from the UN. Article 29 of our own Constitution states that we must explore all avenues of arbitration, on the grounds of international justice and morality, before we engage or participate in any form of war. We are contributing to and participating in this war and in doing so are going against the United Nations resolution.

  Mr. Dooley: Which one?

  Mr. McHugh: This opens a wider debate on neutrality. With respect, I listened to Senator Minihan's argument.

[147]  Mr. Minihan: Excuse me, I did not say one word.

  Mr. McHugh: He did, at the beginning.

  Mr. Minihan: I did not say anything at any time.

  An Cathaoirleach: The Senator will continue. He is wasting his time.

  Mr. McHugh: This is no longer a neutral country, as Senator Mooney pointed out. He has gone on the record as saying that it was never a neutral country. It is now open to debate—

  Mr. Mooney: Militarily neutral – it is an important qualification.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator McHugh, without interruption.

  Mr. Mooney: For the record, a Chathaoirligh, it is an important qualification.

  Mr. McHugh: Will I get extra time for this?

  Mr. Mooney: I will not go for a point of order but I hope the Senator takes my point.

  Mr. McHugh: The issue of neutrality must be put on the agenda as a matter of importance because this is no longer a neutral country and it is actually participating in a war. This is a change of rules. It is like playing a football match in which the referee decides at half time to do away with the offside rule. It is a complete turnaround.

  Mr. Mooney: It is in line with our position. The Senator should read his history.

  An Cathaoirleach: The Senator, without interruption.

  Mr. McHugh: Ireland is part of the United Nations and we use it as an umbrella organisation in terms of our participation in or contribution to military action.

  Mr. Mooney: The only umbrella we have had is British and American protection in case we are attacked.

  Mr. McHugh: The interruptions are outrageous.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator McHugh, without interruption. His time is limited.

  Mr. McHugh: We all have a part to play in this—

  Mr. Minihan: We are helping the Senator fill his time.

[148]  Mr. McHugh: —and everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. As Senator Ó Murchú said, we should listen to everybody. I would appreciate if my opinion were respected also.

  Mr. Mooney: As long as it is accurate.

  Mr. McHugh: If we want to continue to use the United Nations as an international body – if we want to be part of it, to contribute to it and to have faith and confidence in it – we cannot attack or go against it. We should not participate in international affairs that are not sanctioned by the UN. The Fine Gael Party has trouble with recent events because it called for a new UN resolution, but no agreement was reached in that regard.

  An Cathaoirleach: May I interrupt the Senator?

  Ms O'Rourke: His time is up.

  An Cathaoirleach: His time is not up, but the House agreed this morning that it would report progress and adjourn at 1.30 p.m.

  Mr. Mooney: His time is up.

  An Cathaoirleach: No, he will have two minutes when the House returns at 2.30 p.m. In accordance with this morning's Order of Business, Senator McHugh can resume his contribution after the sos or he can finish now.

  Mr. McHugh: I will finish my point after the suspension.

  Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

  Mr. McHugh: I welcome the Minister of State back to the House. I also welcome this second opportunity to speak on this very relevant issue.

  We firmly believe that if the UN was given more time the Iraqi crisis could have been resolved without recourse to war. There are senior European Union diplomats from all bar two countries who hold a similar opinion. If the United Nations arms inspectors were given more time we would be in a better position to make a calculated judgment in regard to a war in Iraq. It is not too much to ask for time. I cannot comprehend the sense of urgency which necessitated an attack on Iraq in advance of the completion of the report of the arms inspectors. They were prevented from making a calculated estimation of the actual weapons potential in Iraq based on their judgment of what they witnessed there.

  As I said previously, this opens up a whole plethora of issues in regard to our neutrality but also in connection with the matter of a common European defence policy. This should be put on [149]the table as quickly as possible. Such a debate could be initiated in this House.

  It is not a question of being pro or anti-American. There is no question that the US and Britain are our natural allies. The Fine Gael Party has always held that view and will continue to do so. It is not a case of our being aligned on one side or the other in this conflict – our bottom line is that more time should have been allocated to finding a resolution prior to resorting to war. I acknowledge the contribution of the United States and Britain in terms of our economy. People will put economic hypotheses forward in this regard, no more so than the potential gains accrued by us through Shannon Airport. We are not pressing this argument; we just wanted to see what the UN arms inspectors would come up with and we also wanted to have a mandate for a second resolution. This did not happen and that is why we have a problem.

  Dr. M. Hayes: This is one of those sad days in the House when everybody has the same end in view – concern for peace and justice and a modicum of moral certainty. The fact that we will differ from very good friends who are expressing themselves passionately on these subjects should not make us respect any the less the strength of the views they hold.

  I have a sense of déjà vu in regard to this debate. My father soldiered in the First World War in what was then Mesopotamia. We grew up on tales of his journey on foot from Basra to Baghdad to Kirkuk and Mosul, but more than anything else we grew up on the enormous sense of anger that he had at the way in which the Arab peoples were betrayed by the great powers. I certainly hope it is not going to happen this time. This is the wrong war against the wrong target at the wrong time and it can have unforeseen long-term repercussions.

  For most of us in liberal civilised democracies with the experience of world wars, a war is morally dubious and politically pointless. The world has still not reached that degree of perfection where war has been eliminated. We should have some regard for the shock to the American psyche and the body politic of the events of 11 September 2001, which they find very hard to forget and cannot understand why other people do not think of it too – although we do.

  Last week I was in Washington and it is very interesting that I found exactly the same debate going on there. American people were not gung-ho about this. They were concerned, apprehensive and held different opinions. Since I am expressing opinions I heard from serious people in the United States, it is clearly not anti-American to question the direction American policy is taking.

  United Nations resolutions imply the power to secure compliance. If the United Nations does not secure compliance for its resolutions, it loses [150]a degree of authority. None of the countries which reasonably required a second resolution, including Ireland, ruled out the eventual use of force. We are talking about a question of timing rather than any fundamental differences. While I would have liked more time to be given to the inspectors, it would still have had the same result. Senator McHugh asked what was the hurry; I suppose it was due to the weather more than anything else.

  Like Senator Ryan, I deplore the presentation of the war made by the electronic media as it sanitises and deodorises appalling experiences. The real casualties, apart from Iraqi civilians, are likely to be the United Nations, international diplomacy, the European Union and its Common Foreign and Security Policy. While it is important not to allow a split to develop between Europe and the United States, we must not allow American isolationism to grow. Neither should we allow those Americans who have a non-isolationist view to think they are on their own. It is also important to avoid divisions within the European Union. The events of recent weeks have made the work of forming a common foreign and security policy more difficult, it may even impede, if not imperil, the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe.

  Even in the moral quagmire of the theory of the just war, I find it difficult to accept the concept of the pre-emptive strike and the domino effect of wondering if it is Saddam this week, who will it be next week? The idea that a pair of countries can decide who poses risks to them and the world and then deal with this is difficult to sustain in any decent society. The world will increasingly face problems from terrorism and every American may become a target. To deal with this, the world powers will have to come to grips with the Israeli-Palestinian question, the running sore that incubates other animosities. The road map to peace must be more than a temporary fig leaf; it must be something to which people are committed.

  The world is now in a certain position and there is no point bemoaning that more time was not given to the inspectors or that a second resolution was not carried. There is a war and the question is: “What should the Government do?” It must try to pick up the pieces. I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs and our diplomats for the work done during Ireland's membership of the Security Council, including their part in crafting Resolution 1441. We must maintain our position as brokers between Europe and America and within Europe. We must support humanitarian activity in helping to rebuild Iraq.

  I was interested in the Minister of State's comments on the work of NGOs. It is worth noting the extent to which the American Administration seems to have ignored them, lined up contractors and introduced conditions in the application of American foreign aid. This is something the [151]United Nations should try to come to grips with and of which Europe should be part.

  The Government should try to shorten the war. Now that there is one it is important that it is ended as quickly as possible. If allowing overflights or the use of Shannon Airport helps, it is a reasonable moral purpose to pursue. None of those who advocated a second resolution, even those who called most strongly for it, are changing their arrangements and I do not think the Government should change ours. It has a responsibility to protect the vital interests, including the economic interests, of this country. This requires us to stand by our friends while pointing out where we think they are going wrong. This is implicit, if not explicit, in the motion before the House. We should recognise the help America and Britain have given in the peace process. We should not take action that would appear to expel them from the decent world. We have an honourable role to play in healing and bringing people together. The world is complex and difficult choices must be made to find a path through a moral maze. People will differ but the Government's resolution has hit the right note. I commend the Minister of State for his work in this field in which I wish him well.

  Mr. Quinn: I wish to share time with Senator Ross.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Quinn: Senator Maurice Hayes must mix with different people when in the United States. When I go there I seem to mix only with strongly right wing Republicans who have a sense of might being right.

  Mr. Mooney: They have all the money.

  Mr. Quinn: They feel that as they are able to do this, there is no reason they should not do it. This frightened me. I am a great believer in the rule of law and see the United Nations as fulfilling this role. I argued strongly that we should find another way to get around this problem. On radio today I heard it said no two countries with McDonalds restruants had ever gone to war with one another. I do not think that is true as I think it happened in the case of Yugoslavia. I am not sure if the use of sanctions was the right way to approach Iraq after the first Gulf War. I argued strongly with the Americans I met that great damage would be done to the rule of law if Resolution 1441 was not adhered to. That is now behind us.

  Ireland has never been neutral in the sense that it does not have a view on good and evil. We did what we thought was right in Rwanda and Kosovo and offered support accordingly. No matter how the war started, the world has changed. [152]If we now change the way we have been behaving, we will affect the outcome. Until now we have allowed the Americans to overfly our airspace and given them the use of Shannon Airport. Were we to change our stance now that America is at war we would be acting on behalf of Saddam Hussein and Iraq, something I do not believe anyone in Ireland wants. We must continue with our policy because to change now would be to act on behalf of the enemies of the US. If we had been given more time, things might have been different.

  In that context, Senator McHugh posed several “what ifs” and “if onlys” with which I agree, but that is not where we are at. This is no longer a question of if Dr. Blix had found something or what if we had waited another few weeks, all of which would have been much better, as it would have been if the United Nations had been adhered to. However, war is now taking place and we must use our moral persuasion as an independent country, acting according to precedent. We can encourage military and political thinking that avoids unnecessary deaths. On many occasions, civilian and military deaths were far in excess of what was required for an ordinary victory.

  Let us persuade the Americans, who will doubtless win, to make sure they do so in the manner of Louis XV after Fontenoy. After that battle the king described the injured enemy as his people and said, “These too are humans,” and “Our glory is to spare the lives of our enemies.” Louis XV rejected the use of weapons that would have caused more harm than necessary and we should encourage the same through pressure on the Americans and the British. They must only do what is necessary to achieve the victory they feel they need. We can then stand back and say that any moral stance we took saved lives.

  Mr. Ross: I thank Senator Quinn for sharing his time at such short notice. I wish to dispel one or two illusions which exist regarding this debate. It is difficult to do so because such passions are aroused when the subject of war arises. Those who believe that the Shannon stop-over should continue do not necessarily believe that war should have been declared. They are different issues and it is wrong that people should be branded as “pro-war”, “anti-war”, “pro-Saddam” or “pro-Bush”, because there are all sorts of mixed feelings and strands which go through the issue which have confused us all to some extent. Being put through the ringer on this debate makes life difficult for people on all sides unless they are extreme and passionate. Perhaps, however, they are not thoughtful about the issue, because we can agree with some aspects of it and not with others. Everyone to whom I have spoken on this matter is torn between passionate opposition to the killing of all people – not just innocents but soldiers too – yet they despise Saddam [153]and many Members on this side despise President Bush. These are genuinely-held feelings.

  I was taken with the suggestions of Senators Hayes and Quinn that we should be practical and exert what little influence we have towards good, peace and limiting the killing of people. The justification for war and the arguments on both sides are over. Senator Quinn's is a refreshing approach to the Shannon issue. What would really happen if we told the Americans to stay out of Shannon? I suggest a press release would be issued from Baghdad by Saddam Hussein saying that the brave Irish people were on his side and that he had an ally somewhere between Britain and America. It would say that a brave little island had stood behind Saddam against the wicked Americans. This would not be an announcement we would welcome or a correct interpretation, but it would be viewed throughout the world as an extravagant gesture and a stab in the back for America.

  I accept many of the powerfully-delivered arguments made by Senator Norris but there is another side to the story. Would we save any lives by taking this brave stand and, crudely, what damage would we do to Ireland if we did so? The economic damage is something no one in this House could measure, although we might all make a stab at it. Nonetheless, it is irrelevant since it is not going to happen because we ignore our economic closeness to America at our peril. All parties in the House are behind our close economic ties to America and we are grateful for them. We have accepted American industries and capital. The hypothetical opposing argument – that they are only here because of the 12.5% tax rate and because they want to make money – is true, but one must question deeper.

  On “Morning Ireland” this morning, it was asked what the response of the Bush Administration to Ireland would be if we made what it regarded as a hostile gesture. To suggest that the Administration, which has twisted the arm of every neutral country in the world, would have no response is unrealistic, given it is at war. America has a lot riding on this war and will win it. Therefore, it is not going to take too much notice of little Ireland if we say we do not want troops travelling through Shannon. Instead, the US will send its troops through Frankfurt and cause economic damage to us. Is that a price worth paying?

  If we barred American troops, serious tax measures could be taken in the US to persuade, induce or compel American companies investing abroad to transfer their profits in such a way that their host countries do not benefit. In that case, American businessmen and capital would begin to look at Ireland as hostile territory. They do not just look at the 12.5% tax rate which exists today – they are here for the long haul, as they frequently tell us. However, they will not remain if they see a change in our policy which is anti-[154]American in economic terms and they can hit us back where it hurts. The two issues are human life – which is the most important and compelling – and the economy, which is also important. I suggest that, by kicking the Americans in the teeth, we would damage the economy without compensating by saving any lives in Iraq.

  Mr. Daly: I wish to share my time with Senator Dooley.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Daly: Like all wars, this one is a tragedy. It should not have happened and could have been avoided. However, the main responsibility for it lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi authorities.

  Twelve years ago, almost to the day, I recall discussing the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. There were ten United Nations resolutions dealing with that issue but each time Saddam Hussein found a way to evade his responsibilities. The then President Gorbachev, with the assistance of the French Government, spent months trying to resolve that issue but it was not resolved until the military response was taken. Following the tragedy of that war, Saddam Hussein signed a ceasefire agreement and withdrew from Kuwait. That withdrawal was part of the settlement but the resolution is still outstanding. In fact, the events we are discussing today are part of the unfinished business of the 1990s in terms of Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

  There are those who question whether this action is legal. The legality of the action in 1990 was questioned then but that action brought an end to the savagery inflicted on the people of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and his regime. This individual, and those surrounding him who carry out his wishes, will not respond to any measure short of the action currently taking place in Iraq. The tragedy is that while we are here discussing this issue, soldiers and civilians are dying in a conflict which could have been avoided had the Iraqi authorities taken the necessary steps to comply with the UN resolutions.

  In terms of dealing with the weapons inspectors, Saddam acted in a similar manner 12 years ago. He played games and tried to substitute one resolution with another. Even when a special framework was put in place to allow time for him to withdraw from Kuwait, he did not abide by it. The result was that the operation started at that time was not completed, but it appears it will be completed now. As we speak, American forces are two or three days from Baghdad. That should terminate the issue of Saddam Hussein and his administration in a very short time. It is long overdue.

  Mr. Mooney: Hear, hear.

[155]  Mr. Daly: Do the people who protested at the gates of this House yesterday, at the American Embassy last night and at Shannon for the past year or so fully understand the individual they appear to be supporting when they get involved in these campaigns? Do they realise the misery he has inflicted on his own people? He has been murdering people since he was 17. He has executed his personal friends and some relatives. He has wrought havoc in the whole region. He is a threat to international peace, although not for much longer, and it was imperative that he be dealt with.

  I cannot understand the position of Fine Gael in particular. Twelve years ago, the Government of the day was accused of not doing enough for the United States in its war against Saddam Hussein and his invasion of Kuwait. The then Fine Gael spokesperson did not vote on the amendment to the motion in the other House last night; I do not believe he could swallow his words. Many others in the Fine Gael Party did not vote either because in 1991 they were adamant that the Government should do more to address the crisis in Iraq and Kuwait. The least we could do at that time was provide the facility at Shannon Airport.

  I did not see many of those who were at the gates of this House yesterday protesting when the Aeroflot flights were bringing Russian technicians to Cuba some years ago.

  Mr. Mooney: Hear, hear.

  Mr. Daly: I do not see them make any effort to raise money to help the humanitarian effort that will be required in Iraq in a week's time. Many of those who are loud in their protests will be very slow to put even one penny into a fund to provide assistance for the people they claim are currently being discriminated against. I appeal to the Fine Gael Members to reconsider the stand they are taking on this issue, especially on the question of Shannon.

  Mr. Dooley: I thank Senator Daly for sharing time with me, and I will be as brief as possible. It is with considerable regret that we are discussing this issue while a war is taking place. That is a reflection of a failure within the UN and considerable division in the European Community, about which we should all be disappointed.

  It has been suggested by elements on the opposite side of the House and outside it that Members on this side are voting along party lines, and that they are voting fodder in terms of the Government's stance on this issue. With my colleagues, I have examined my conscience and I will support this motion because I believe in everything for which it stands. I will attempt to clarify my views in that regard.

  We are all aware of the fact that the military conflict has begun, and we talked about the television pictures being broadcast on a daily basis, [156]something about which we are all concerned. The Government, the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, and the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, were actively involved in trying to prevent what has ultimately taken place. The Government can be proud of the work it has done to date in that regard. Nonetheless, the war has started and we must now work towards a quick and peaceful resolution. We must be in a position to provide humanitarian relief where possible. Everybody accepts that there must not be a unilateral or bilateral approach to the rebuilding of Iraq, in which Ireland will have a role.

  There has been much talk about Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. The Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, stated that Saddam refused to comply with 17 Security Council resolutions over the past 12 years. Much of that information gets lost in the debate by people outside this House. In 1998, Saddam broke an agreement with Kofi Annan and threw out the weapons inspectors.

  It is unfortunate Senator McHugh is not in the Chamber to discuss the time that might have been provided to Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradi in terms of the work they were doing. They were in Iraq as a result of the adoption of Resolution 1441, but even after that resolution had been adopted, Saddam Hussein played ducks and drakes with it. It was not until the United States in particular moved troops into the region that he started to comply again in some small measure. He provided a great deal of information but little of any substance by way of assisting the disarming process. He first said he did not have al-Samoud missiles. When they were found they were apparently a surprise to him and that it was an oversight on his part. How can 100 missiles be an oversight? He sought to dismantle them. He said he had no Scud missiles, yet Scud missiles were dropping on Kuwait city last night.

  How much more time are we prepared to give to somebody who has perpetrated such crimes against humanity in his own country over a prolonged period? At what point do we say, “Enough is enough”? The Americans and the British have been called war mongers. I disagree with that view. Those states made their decision in good conscience and they are going ahead with it.

  There are difficult times ahead. Like everybody else, I am opposed to war. I agree with the Government's decision not to support this war but we are in the fortunate position of not being responsible for world order. Superpowers like the United States and the United Kingdom are not in the same position.

  I am particularly concerned about sentiments expressed in recent days that by facilitating the landing of US troops in Shannon Airport it in some way represents participation. Senator Norris talked about it being an illegal act. He [157]even referred to a Member on this side of the House as not understanding the rule of law. The Attorney General has examined this and it is something of which the Minister of State is aware and about which he has talked. If the Attorney General thought there was a difficulty with it, a resolution would have been brought before the Dáil but that did not happen. There is no breach in this regard.

  The United States has been a friend of ours. The British have been greater friends, certainly in recent years. The assistance they have given us in trying to bring about a peaceful resolution in the North must be recognised. Far from being warmongers, they have sat around the table with us for what is, in terms of world order, a relatively small piece of territory. The assistance they have provided, the effort they have put in and the support they have given us should not go unnoticed. At the time of the Famine the United States was friendly to us and provided a safe haven for our forefathers. More recently – Senator Ross talked about this – it has contributed in the form of directive foreign investment which has driven the Celtic tiger.

  All in all, we have no choice in this matter. We cannot sit on the fence. We must be seen to support those closest to us. We have a decision to make. Do we side with the US-UK alliance or Saddam Hussein? Senator Ross put it clearly: if we are seen to revert on a decision regarding the use of Shannon Airport, which has been the precedent for 50 years, and change tack, it will be seen not only as a hostile attack on the United States but also as promoting the propaganda Saddam Hussein has continued to use, particularly in recent weeks, to try to break up the United Nations, which would suit him, and what would be a developing power in the European Union. I do not support this. I hope our colleagues on the other side of the House who have expressed different positions might agree with this sentiment and not put the motion to a vote. That would represent a great display of unity by this House. It would display that the Seanad has been able to deliberate reasonably on this issue, open it up for a good debate and show the United States and the United Kingdom that we are not prepared to be associated with the murderous campaign Saddam Hussein has waged, not alone on his own people but also on the people of Kuwait. If given the chance, he would wage it on people throughout the world.

  Mr. Feighan: I wish to share my time with Senator Browne.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Feighan: I welcome the Minister of State on the occasion of the debate on this emotive and difficult subject. We should hope lives will be saved and that this will not be a war that we will [158]remember for the wrong reasons. I say that because I am a pacifist and the topic of war in general is something that easily and profoundly offends my sensitivities. War is sometimes necessary but sometimes it makes monsters out of people, even good ones. One must have the right to question the wisdom of such decisions, which is what I am here to do today.

  We are living long, free and good lives, mainly because of the sacrifices the United States endured, certainly during the Second World War. Some like to be anti-American but I accept and realise the reality of the sight of body bags. The bodies of some 70,000 American soldiers are lying in graveyards in France. As I cycled through Normandy, I saw all those graveyards. It represents the ultimate sacrifice.

  Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Bixby of Boston. Unfortunately, many such letters will be copied and sent to many in the United States which we must thank for making the ultimate sacrifice, which I genuinely believe it has. It has ensured we can live good and free lives.

  It is no secret that the United States has bombed Iraq on seven occasions since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. If it had followed up on what it did in 1991, this war would not be happening. We should have got rid of Saddam Hussein in 1991. That is my personal opinion but at the time I may have been one of those who would have said enough was enough.

  By last September it was clear that Washington was planning a full-scale invasion of Iraq. We went through the charade of the debate in the United Nations in this regard. No nation has a deeper interest in the success of the United Nations than this one. We rely on it for collective security in the world. The fight against global terrorism cannot be won by just one country; it must be won collectively. Even a powerful country such as the United States cannot win it. It must have the support of all its friends.

  I wonder why North Korea's plans in regard to nuclear weapons have been virtually ignored. Disarming Iraq is essential and urgent to have a committed and safer world. I do not know whether the war in Iraq will make a significant contribution to achieving this goal but hope it will not give international terrorists new rallying cries and causes. The 1991 war in Iraq was backed by a Security Council resolution which supported the provision of facilities at Shannon Airport for US forces on their way to the Gulf. If member states of the United Nations act in their own interest, it will not be long before the United Nations goes the way of the League of Nations. Who will then secure international peace?

  It is everybody's legitimate right to protest. Anyone who protests outside Leinster House has a legitimate right to do so. One gentleman protesting outside yesterday who had a megaphone [159]which would be useful for church gate speeches was trying to incite hatred and violence.

  Mr. Mooney: He was.

  Mr. Feighan: I pay tribute to the members of Garda Síochána present for their restraint. While it was not the wish of the vast majority, one or two of the protesters wanted a confrontation. That is not the way to carry out a protest. That gentleman, whoever he was, was trying to incite violence.

  I hope lives will be saved by this war and that the Americans and British will win it soon. With regard to the economic damage that will be done, I hope Iraq will be rebuilt and that the necessary structures will be put in place for a democratic government. I also hope the promises given to Afghanistan which have been carried out to a certain extent will be better in the case of Iraq.

  Mr. Browne: I support the Fine Gael stance on this war. It is important to point to a few differences between the 1991 war and the current scenario. The main difference is that in 1991 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait which he has not done on this occasion. Also that war had the backing of a Security Council resolution. The Fine Gael Party was keen to support the use of Shannon at that juncture. However, we are now creating a dangerous precedent whereby countries can take unilateral action without UN backing. That might be all right in the case of the US, which is a friendly nation, but what is to prevent North Korea, or any other country in possession of weapons of mass destruction, from taking unilateral action against a neighbouring country?

  We all agree that Saddam Hussein is not exactly the nicest person in the world, but, unfortunately, he is only one of a few. President Mugabe is another undesirable, but we do not see America taking action against him. There must be some consistency. It is not fair to say that Saddam Hussein is the only world leader with a bad human rights record. Many other countries have an equally bad human rights records. Senator Dooley correctly pointed out that we have excellent relations with Britain and America, but we remain a sovereign State. A good friend should always be able to tell another good friend whether they are right or wrong. That is the sign of true friendship. We should not be rowing in behind these countries just because they are our so-called friends.

  I disagree with Senator Ross's forecast of an economic doomsday scenario if we do not allow the US to use Shannon airport. American companies come here because of our low corporation tax and high skilled labour force. That will not change. It is simplistic to link the use of Shannon to the continued presence of American companies in Ireland. They are here because of our stra[160]tegic location, skilled workforce and low tax rates.

  Even if this war is successful – by which I mean a short war with few casualties that results in the death or imprisonment of Saddam Hussein – the issue still has to be addressed of who will replace him. That has not been thought out yet. Will it create an even bigger problem than at present? The Iraqi people will not want a pro-American, pro-European leader who could be weak in his own country, while the US and the EU will not want a leader who is strong in Iraq but with whom they have a bad relationship. These are serious questions to be addressed.

  The current scenario has exposed the hypocrisy and failure of Fianna Fáil's à la carte approach to neutrality. Ireland is not, and never was, a neutral country. It is time we faced up to that fact and held a constitutional referendum on neutrality. I hope we have a proper debate on neutrality once this war is over. The war has also exposed the weakness of the UN, but the solution does not lie in its being disbanded.. We must learn from mistakes made and strengthen the UN to ensure this will not happen again. We do not want the UN to follow the route of the League of Nations, the demise of which led to the Second World War and the loss of 60 million lives. We must strengthen our common EU defence policy. This was mooted in the recent Nice treaty debate and Fine Gael took a proactive role in that campaign. The current crisis highlights the weakness of both EU defence policy and the UN and we must learn from those mistakes.

  There are many Irish people fighting in both the US and British armies, and I hope they will all return home safely. I hope the war is short and that we will have peace in the Middle East for the sake of everybody.

  Mr. Morrissey: I wish to share time with Senator Brady.

  An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Morrissey: I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, and thank him for staying for the duration of the debate. I have listened carefully to the remarks of the Opposition and of the spokespersons for the various anti-war groups. It is time to stand back and take a common sense view. We are not waging war on Iraq. No Irish troops will ever be involved in an attack on Iraq. We are not, despite the hysteria of some anti-war protesters, involved in crimes against humanity.

  We have come to a critical point in our development as a nation. The time for deluding ourselves is over. It is time to recognise that the world has changed and that we must take responsibility for our actions. We can no longer have our cake and eat it or adopt a “holier than thou” attitude. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, anti-American commentators railed against [161]American foreign policy while Irish Governments pleaded for more green cards, more Morrison visa schemes and more US investment. We got away with it because nobody in the US gave a tinker's curse about what we said and did at that time. It suited American politicians to court the Irish vote by helping out the auld sod on occasion. American public opinion was blissfully unaware and uninformed of events and of views expressed in Ireland and we excelled as the hurler on the ditch.

  The ditch is now gone. Osama bin Laden brought it down with the twin towers. That is the big difference between the current situation and the Gulf War of 1991. Many commentators, including distinguished former Members of the Oireachtas, are mistaken and have failed to recognised how deeply the events of 11 September 2001 have impacted upon the US. There is no middle ground anymore. Ireland is not France. We are economically dependent on the US and the UK, no matter how we might wish otherwise. We dare not lose the goodwill and friendship of these countries. Our primary duty is the care of our own people. We must think of the people of Shannon, Limerick, Clare and elsewhere who rely on the economic dynamo of the Shannon airport zone, which has been built since the 1960s on the back of US investment.

  We must remember the tens of thousands of ordinary PAYE workers who depend, directly or indirectly, on US companies in Ireland or on free and unfettered access to American markets for their livelihoods. We must remember the millions who, since the Great Famine, found refuge, opportunity and a home in America. We should recognise that both France and Germany, despite principled opposition to the war, have moved to protect their perceived self-interests. We dare not allow ourselves to be dragged by the misguided and the mischievous into taking a hostile act against our greatest ever friend, the US. We dare not allow Ireland to become reviled by the ordinary American in the street, as France has become. We must face our responsibility to our people and pursue our national self-interest, not for selfish reasons but for economic survival.

  Time will be the judge of the rights and wrongs of the current conflict. Many of the arguments made by Members of the House during the 1991 Gulf War ring hollow now. I do not want war. There will be many losers – I include in this political harmony in Europe – as a result of the current conflict. However, if I had to choose between Baghdad and Washington, I would choose Washington, as have many generations of Irish people before me. I thank the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the way they have conducted foreign policy during these difficult times.

  Mr. Brady: I thank Senator Morrissey for sharing time and I welcome the Minister of State. I [162]commend him on his achievements in his portfolio thus far.

  After 12 years of UN pressure and attempts at persuasion, including no less than 17 different resolutions, Saddam Hussein has continued to laugh at the world. The recent charade of inspectors running around Iraq, finding a bomb here and empty shell casing there, and being refused interviews with relevant officials was reminiscent of something out of a “Carry On” film. Even the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, admitted that while some slow progress was made – more in terms of process than substance – many more months, and possibly years, of work remained to be done. What we have recently witnessed could not be called compliance with Resolution 1441. I have yet to hear one person in either House, with the possible exception of Senator Norris, say that they welcome this war. This motion adequately expresses the Government's rejection of war, as the Minister of State pointed out in his speech.

  It must, however, be accepted that inspections would not have taken place without the credible threat of military force. Saddam Hussein's record of co-operation is, to say the least, dismal. He has, however, achieved his aim in disuniting the international community and this points to the insidiousness of international terrorism.

  This country has consistently supported the supremacy of the UN. However, the circumstances of recent weeks and months have created serious problems for many countries, not least this one. This motion rightly expresses our intention not to support military action.

  Some of the facetious arguments about the use of Shannon are ridiculous. Where will these people who are opportunistically using these arguments be when factories and businesses start to close and people lose their jobs? That is exactly what will happen if we are seen to snub our biggest inward investor and a major customer for exports. Are they saying we should squander the millions of euro we have spent over the years through bodies such as the IDA cultivating these jobs and, indeed, the goodwill of the US?

  The reality is that between the economic factors and the progress which has been made towards peace in our country, any move to change the precedent which exists in regard to overflights and landing rights at Shannon will be detrimental to the future of this country. It is said that when one assumes power, one assumes responsibility. This Government has shown by taking hard decisions that it is willing to take responsibility.

  As the Minister of State pointed out, Ireland has a long and proud tradition of peace-keeping and of the provision of humanitarian assistance around the world. Given our position in the UN and in the wider international community, it is imperative we ensure whatever assistance required is given to the ordinary people of Iraq [163]as soon as possible. Recently, we heard many expressions of horror at the fate of the ordinary men, women and children of that country. Where have the people who have expressed these opinions been for the last 12 years? Under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, we have heard reports of children starving and being denied medical treatment.

  This is in a country which is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world. Saddam Hussein has built dozens of palaces and has squandered huge sums of money. This is in a country where any form of free expression is sadistically and, in some cases, fatally dealt with. I am sure many Iraqi people would welcome the opportunity to voice their opinions in a forum such as this or, indeed, on the streets as we have been able to do in recent days.

  I warmly welcome this motion, which is balanced and adequately deals with the questions raised by this conflict. As a number of Members have said, all we can do at this stage is hope and pray this is a short conflict and that casualties, civilian and military, are kept to a minimum as many of the Iraqi soldiers are conscripts and have no choice in the matter. I warmly welcome the motion and congratulate the Minister of State.

  Ms Tuffy: Having listened to the speeches from the Government side today and yesterday, the Government position is full of contradictions. It is either moving towards an outright shift from our neutral position or it is full of confusion. For example, Senators Dooley and Morrissey said we should take a stand and support the US and the UK over Iraq, but what about supporting and upholding the UN? We are a member of the UN which comprises friends and colleagues. We should uphold UN policy. The UN is opposed to this unilateral act by the US and the UK and it wanted more time to be given to the inspectors. I accept there was a need for the ultimate threat of war to back up the inspections, but there should not have been a war while there was still time to achieve something through peaceful means, which was the position. The primacy of the UN is being eroded by the actions of the UK and the US and by the Government's stance in the last week. The Government has changed its position in that a few weeks ago it was upholding the primacy of the UN.

  Many speakers have said they are opposed to war, yet Senator Mansergh said the anti-war movement was basically made of up of the hard left. I have been to anti-war marches, including that on 15 February, and I went to the American Embassy yesterday. The anti-war movement is not full of the hard left. There were all kinds of people at those marches, many of whom I believe are Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats supporters. We know from opinion polls that the [164]majority of the people are opposed to this action by the UK and the US.

  I agree that we need to have a debate on neutrality and what it means to the people. It is important to point out, because many people are moving away from neutrality, particularly those on the Government side, that neutrality is prized by the people. A key factor in the passing of the Nice referendum was the amendment securing our neutrality. I do not believe the people think neutrality is some kind of neutered, kow-towing to the US and the UK or outright support of them. Neutrality is about not being militarily aligned, about taking a positive stand and urging a peaceful and fair means of achieving stability throughout the world. That is how the majority of the people interpret neutrality. It is a positive concept; it is not about sitting on the fence or saying or doing nothing but is about taking a stand on what is right.

  The actions of the US and the UK are wrong. They are taking unilateral action and are breaking with the UN. They are taking risks in terms of the stability in the world. The UN sought more time and said it would be able to achieve disarmament if given a few more months by the UK and the US.

  At the end of the day Saddam is the creation of the US and the UK and it now suits them to take him on. There have been times when they have ignored Saddam. For example, when his own people rose up against him after the Gulf War, the US and the UK did nothing. This war is primarily about securing US interests and control of the region – it is about US empire building.

  I agree the US and the UK are our friends but we are also their friend. In the same way they have contributed to our success as a nation, we have contributed to those countries through the people who have been involved in building up the US, in particular. Many of our UK and US friends are opposed to war. Senator Mansergh mentioned that the US Administration and the US Congress have been our friends over the years. That is true but the Government must remember that the US Congress is a political body, not some unchanging body. This House is a political body and it should take a political stand on this war.

  I find the economic arguments totally sickening. Taking economics into account in determining our position on war is a disgrace – it is about people's lives, the future of the world and global stability. That should be the way we look upon it. If the Government really cares about our economic interests and our future in regard to foreign investment and building up our own industries, why is it cutting back in areas such as education, research and development and investment in our infrastructure? Those are the factors which will determine how good we are at attracting investment in the future and at building up our own industries.

[165]  It is not too late for the Government to take a stand. The war has started but pressure from protests around the world has made a difference in how it has happened. The United States was kept on board longer than would otherwise have been the case because of pressure from the United Kingdom Government, which was responding to public opinion.

  It is important that Ireland continues to take a stand. In doing so we can help determine what happens after the war in terms of ensuring it is not a matter of simply securing the region for the US. We can also help to ensure that action is taken in the interests of the Iraqi people and the rest of the world. Ultimately, we must support global interests, not simply those of the US and the UK.

  Mr. Scanlon: I wish to share my time with Senator Brennan.

  An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Scanlon: Reference has been made to the attitude of the media to the war. I visited America last week and have viewed much of the coverage. The depiction of war is similar to what can be seen in a “Star Wars” film or a video game. The portrayal in the media is wrong, although I exclude RTE from that because in its “Prime Time” programme last night, it presented a broad overview of what was happening, including the views of different people concerned who will be affected by the war.

  During my visit to America last week, I spoke to a number of Irish Americans and met different organisations. They are annoyed at the way the Irish attitude has been portrayed in America and they are asking what we are doing. The view conveyed is that Ireland does not seem to be standing with America.

  Nobody wants war. I do not want it and I would not like the Opposition to create the impression that those on the Government side are necessarily in favour of it. However, unfortunately war has started and we cannot put our heads in the sand and pretend it is not happening.

  The war will not stop if Shannon Airport was to be closed for refuelling. It may cause the Americans a slight inconvenience, but it will not change anything. Over the years, this country has invested too much in terms of encouraging American industry to locate here. It is, therefore, a serious issue. Too much would be lost if there is a negative attitude to the refuelling of aeroplanes at Shannon Airport. It will make no difference to the course of the war.

  Since 1991, Saddam Hussein has had many chances to disarm. He has give many commitments to do so but he has not honoured one of them. Over one million children in Iraq are suffering from malnourishment and require medical attention. Despite this, over $1 billion from oil revenues are in bank accounts controlled by Sad[166]dam Hussein. He is not prepared to look after his own people. Some 900,000 people in Iraq are displaced while hundreds of thousands have been murdered and gassed.

  The European Union put its head in the sand over what happened in Srebrenica and Kosovo. It is now time to terminate the regime in Iraq. Unfortunately, it will have to be done by war. Like everybody else, I would prefer it to be done by peaceful means through the United Nations, but unfortunately that has not been possible.

  Mr. Brennan: I thank Senator Scanlon for sharing his time with me. Over the past week the United Nations has not lived up to its responsibilities in addressing the question of Iraqi non-compliance with its resolutions. Many months and years of diplomacy have failed to achieve a peaceful solution to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. I acknowledge the hurt and suffering of the Iraqi people and the troops on both sides of this conflict. I also agree with the Minister of State that Ireland will have a leading role to play in addressing the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. There is no such thing as a just war.

  From the time of the famine to the present, Ireland's relationship with the United States has been unique. In the US a welcome was extended to our people and a home and employment has been offered to our emigrants. Multinational investment by US companies in an Ireland that is part of the European Union is at uniquely high levels. The US Government has played an important role in achieving a peaceful solution to the problems in Northern Ireland. Coming from the mid-west region, I fully appreciate the investment by US companies in the Limerick-Shannon region. One firm alone, Dell, provides employment to 7,000 people. It is, therefore, in Ireland's national interest to allow the Shannon Airport stopover to continue. The overflight and landing facilities at the airport have been in existence for the past 50 years and, please God, they will continue for many more years.

  I thank the Minister of State for his balanced address to the House. I fully support the motion. Ireland has a major responsibility and role to play to restore the role of the United Nations in achieving world peace. We also look forward to a leading role by this country and the voluntary organisations in rebuilding Iraq.

  Mr. O'Toole: I thank the Leader for providing a day to conduct this important debate. I also thank the Minister of State for his broad input. It was far too broad for the subject required, but that is in the nature of things. It is the way the Department works and we understand that.

  Mr. T. Kitt: I rarely get the opportunity to address the House.

  Mr. O'Toole: While I was pleased to hear about East Timor and was glad to note the Mini[167]ster of State visited the region, that is not what is at issue in this debate.

  I wish to counter some of the assumptions made about Members on these benches. I am not, nor have I been, a pacifist. I believe in taking appropriate action to deal with matters. I would have preferred if the United Nations had passed a second resolution. It would then have been more interesting to see who in the country was for and against the war. At present, everybody is anti-war, yet most are unsure where they stand on the use of Shannon Airport. On principle, I am opposed to the use of the Shannon stopover, but I am not certain if it is a point of principle. That aspect needs to be teased out.

  There is a lot of misinformation. Although I disagree with much of what Senator Scanlon said, I agree with his views on the RTE coverage of the war. It is one of the few broadcasters that is providing sane coverage. I spent the last two nights viewing CNN and Sky News, both of which are appalling. The BBC is somewhat better. It is because RTE has three journalists in the region and a foreign editor at the station that we can at least get an Irish perspective on this. We are not confined to a feed from CNN, although I understand RTE took one recently. It is good that Irish people are reporting for RTE in Kuwait, Baghdad and on the northern border. I hope and expect them to provide rational coverage for the duration of the war.

  The Leader will be aware that on many occasions I have requested a debate on neutrality. Since I became a Senator I have asked every Minister for Foreign Affairs to debate it. Dick Spring and Deputy Cowen were the only two Ministers who addressed it with style, panache and understanding. I do not fully agree with the Minister's interpretation. However, since Dick Spring produced the White Paper on Foreign Policy, he was the first Minister for Foreign Affairs to address the issue and to raise awkward questions.

  Every time somebody speaks about neutrality I ask him or her the same question. Is he or she referring to moral, political or military neutrality? This country has never been neutral and is not required to be under the Constitution. This is similar to the belief the Constitution tells us to cherish all the children of the nation equally. That is not the case. It states something similar, into which people have read.

  I am not proud that Ireland was neutral while Hitler was steamrolling over decent, ordinary, helpless people in Europe and was supposedly neutral while Pol Pot was killing hundreds of thousands because they had educational qualifications. We were appallingly negligent and irresponsible and should take the blame for not taking a hand, act or part in saving the people of Kosovo in recent years. I supported the US intervention in Kosovo, unpopular as it might have been, for [168]one reason only. The Americans were the only ones prepared to intervene but the rest of us should have been prepared to do so.

  When the 1991 Gulf War was debated in the House, I said I believed it was important because of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait that the United Nations and the West should respond and that I supported the war effort. What I objected to at the time – I was on my own – was that the war effort was being undertaken by the United States. That was my problem then and it is still is. The UN Security Council is not democratic and its members do not have equality of status, my problem is the United Nations is the plaything of the United States.

  I was in Chile on the night democracy was restored in 1987. I was expelled from the US Embassy the following night because I had a row with the American ambassador because the Americans had put Pinochet in power and they were now celebrating his removal. The same happened in Guatemala and I saw the Americans take the same action in Nicaragua. It was not reported in the American media until Nicaraguan ports were mined by US soldiers.

  Senator Ryan referred to the coalition Government telling Reagan what it thought of his policies in the early 1980s. That is utterly incorrect. My recollection is quite different. I was in Buswell's Hotel addressing a meeting of those opposed to Reagan's foreign policy while that Government was entertaining him and allowed him to address both Houses across the road. Neither the Minister of State nor I was a Member of the Oireachtas at the time, although I suspect he was on the street outside the Houses.

  While I will vote against the Government motion, I understand from where it is coming. I oppose what is happening in Shannon Airport but it is not a case for moral outrage. There are much broader issues involved which must be addressed and considered. Much more can be done diplomatically. If it is decided that the Americans cannot have access to Shannon Airport, it is a principled position which should be taken. However, it becomes ridiculous if the Americans then fly over Ireland and land at one of their bases in Frankfurt. Ireland is making a gesture and gestures do not equate with points of principle. I do not take one side of the argument or the other in this regard.

  Ireland has taken a complex position which needs to be teased out. I would prefer it if the Government spoke out and made its position clear. Debate is important on this issue. I would be morally comfortable if the decision was taken to stop military flights into Shannon Airport. By not doing so, we are supporting the Americans to do something with which I disagree because they do not have a UN mandate. That is the logical connection.

  There is, however, another issue, which has not been addressed by anyone. While the United [169]States has acted incorrectly because it does not have a UN mandate, I am not certain it has acted illegally. This is an important issue in international terms. The reason I am opposed to the United States, like many millions of its own citizens, is its leaders have refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court which can try people for war crimes. That is disgraceful because this means they believe they are above and beyond everyone else. We are returning to Animal Farm and, as sure as God, they will take up residence in the House shortly. I am worried about this. That is the reason the people concerned need to be kept in check.

  The Americans are not be trusted, even if they are doing the right thing. They are working their way through all the oil rich countries. Their recent intervention in Venezuela was worrying. I oppose the motion, not on the narrow issue of Shannon Airport but on the broader issues involved because it is time to keep the United States under control. The guy who is supposed to be boss in America does not know what is going on.

  Mr. Leyden: I wish to share time with the Leader, Senator O'Rourke.

  An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Mr. Leyden: I welcome the Minister of State who has played an important humanitarian role since he was appointed. He made his position clear in recent months in the House. I compliment the Leader and the Government on the pragmatic and practical motion before us. This is the first major war of the third millennium, although, unfortunately, the conflict in Palestine continues unabated. However, the Iraqi conflict has been removed from the priority list of the United Nations and the United States. The assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister recently also has not been given the attention it deserves because all eyes are focused on the war in Iraq.

  The United States, the United Kingdom and Spain have made a decision to go to war. Our position is clear. The Government endorsed a decision that Ireland would not participate in the coalition's proposed military action against Iraq. The impression has been created that Ireland is directly involved in the war effort but that is not the case, although many hundreds of Irish citizens and Irish-Americans are participating. Our thoughts must be with them and all those involved in the theatre of war. Relatives of many Irish families, including my own, are participating.

  Shannon Airport has been used for 50 years. The USSR used a ten acre compound at the airport for years to which nobody in the Opposition objected as it provided tremendous employment in the area. Many countries have used the facilities at the airport. For instance, the total number [170]of military aircraft belonging to 36 countries granted landing permission at Shannon Airport between 1 September 2001 and 33 September 2002 was 637. It would be foolhardy of us to withdraw those facilities at this time.

  I regret that the major Opposition party has decided to go down this road. Its position has not been well received by its supporters and has led to resignations.

  Mr. J. Phelan: One defeated election candidate resigned.

  Mr. Leyden: Other supporters have not participated in the debate while a number of Dáil Members absented themselves from the vote on the motion yesterday. It was unwise. They would be more comfortable on our side of the argument.

  Mr. J. Phelan: The Senator does not sound too comfortable.

  Mr. Leyden: I recommend that Fine Gael Members should endorse the motion which states the House “declares its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq and welcomes the stated intention of the coalition to act swiftly to address the food and humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people”. The Minister is meeting the non-governmental agencies next week. He is making available funding to provide assistance to the people of Iraq when the war has ended.

  I will not delay the House because talk at this time is of no use. We tried through the Security Council to achieve Resolution 1441. I compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, the Taoiseach, the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, all the senior officials and the permanent representative in the United Nations on bringing about Resolution 1441. Without Ireland the motion might not have been brought forward.

  We have tremendous influence and a strong role to play in regard to peacekeeping throughout the world. Fianna Fáil, through Mr. de Valera, brought about our neutrality during the Second World War. We have a proud tradition in that regard and we are proud of our heritage. I regard this as being semi-neutral.

  Mr. McCarthy: Semi-neutral? You are either neutral or not.

  Mr. Leyden: We must stand by America in this regard. More than 100,000 people work in 506 American companies in this country.

  I also recognise the right of those who protested yesterday with passion and fury because they showed their deep commitment. This is a free democracy where people can protest, and rightly so. However, we are pragmatists and we must ensure our continued good relationship with the United States. We must not lose our influence with America in this regard.

[171]  Ms O'Rourke: I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, for his generosity with his time and open approach to debates such as this, which does much to raise the tenor of the Seanad.

  It is clear that none of us approves of war or wanted to go to war. How could one unless one was of a most avaricious or bloodthirsty mind? On balance, we regret very much that war without the go-ahead from the United Nations was precipitated. Be that as it may, war has begun. Therefore, it is a matter of taking a balanced view of what has happened and taking decisions. On balance, not so much out of gratitude or in connection with Shannon and so on, it is a case of considering the circumstances and deciding what the way ahead should be.

  I recall an excellent debate in the parliamentary party. I stressed that the Government should keep the fluidity of the situation in mind until the last minute, and so it has proven to be. Despite what many have said about the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, during the lead up to the war in Iraq he tried to maintain strong links with the United Nations. I am sure on many occasions he stayed the hand of the president. I feel that very strongly, because by his moral nature he would not be committed to war or wish to see war at all costs.

  I have just returned from a few days in the US where there is an appalling channel called Fox News. All debates begin by asking, “What do we now say to France? We say, ‘boo,” and there is a big loud “boo” from them. The way they are carrying on is just appalling. I regret this polarisation.

  I would regret if our motion was seen to be in favour of the American position and of war, which is not the case. We are in favour of a balanced approach. Even though the United Nations will be very involved in other matters with regard to Iraq, I regret that its authority and the respect held for it have been diminished as a result of this action.

  While we appreciate the jobs which have been created here and the long-standing commitment of so many Irish Americans, I do not wish to dwell on it, because it is a given. We must also consider our relationship with France, Germany and many other countries in Europe. I regret the fracturing of Europe because of this issue. I hope there will again be European cohesion. Over the years France and Germany have been strong supporters of the Irish position on many European issues. I had experience of this in my capacity as Minister for Public Enterprise. On many occasions the then French transport minister and I were able to put forward a formidable case for a particular aspect of a policy or directive. Our appreciation should not be one-sided. That is not the way to approach matters.

  I believe we have taken a balanced view. We reaffirm the United Nations and wish to have its authority strongly established. We do not want [172]war. We recognise the sovereignty of Iraq and its people, all the proper sentiments one should have on an occasion such as this. It is sad to be debating a war which has now begun. I hope it will be swift and short and that civilians will not suffer. I do not know enough about Saddam Hussein to attach epithets to him. This is not how we should conduct a debate such as this.

  There is a need for continued balance and recognition that this is now a global village and it is not all a one-sided debate. I am pleased that the motion, to which my name is appended, includes the recognition which is needed and we must stick to the principles it espouses.

  Mr. Bannon: I join other Senator in welcoming the Minister of State to the House and thank him for spending so much of his time with us today.

  In the world of the new millennium, the world of 2003, we in the global sense do not take war lightly. We do not go to war on a whim and we do not go to war by default, or do we? We must ask this question. The war against Iraq is based on a reckless disregard for the norms of the international process as accepted by the majority of nations around the world. Surely this does not concern us in Ireland, cocooned as we are in the knowledge and protection of our neutrality. Our neutral stance has been spoken about a great deal since the Second World War. Leaders in the past have been credited for the stance they took in this regard.

  Why the protests outside Leinster House yesterday and why the chants of “Blood on your hands”? As I was approaching the front gate I had to divert to the back because of the seriousness of the protest. The message being delivered and repeated over and over again by anti-war protestors was very emotive, not just here but in different parts of the world, including America.

  Allied with the anti-war protest, “Blood on your hands,” was a strongly delivered anti-Government message. I am pleased my constituency colleague, Senator Leyden, is none the worse for the debacle yesterday. The perception is that the Government is responsible for supporting and assisting the United States in its war against Iraq without a UN resolution. Where is the tie-in with our neutrality if that is the case?

  Is passive assistance in matters of war and bloodshed any less culpable than active participation in war? Has self-interest clouded the thinking of Government parties on the issue? Is there a perception that self-interest demands our partnership in wrongdoing? Are we hiding behind the shield of our own hypocrisy in this situation? Neutrality implies lack of accountability to any side in a war situation, lack of support for one side over the other and lack of involvement. To whom are we now accountable? Are we accountable to the United States, the United Kingdom or Iraq? The answer, surely, is that we are accountable to ourselves and, by virtue of our [173]membership, we are accountable to the United Nations.

  As regards any action taken outside the legitimacy of the United Nations, Ireland must refuse to allow its facilities to be used to assist military aggression against Iraq. If we continue to condone overflights by the US military, Ireland will stand as the only neutral state in Europe to permit use of its airspace to US forces engaged in the conflict against Iraq. Are we now to re-invent the word “neutrality“? Is it, perhaps, a concept that allows for expansion or contraction at will? Austria, Finland and Sweden have made it clear that they regard military action against Iraq as illegal without a fresh UN resolution. Austria's Chancellor has said that a US-led attack on Iraq could not be regarded as an act of self-defence and would be in breach of the UN Charter. Austria is bound to neutrality by the 1955 state treaty and its constitution, which prohibits membership of military alliances and the establishment of foreign military bases on its territory.

  Sweden's policy of neutrality, which became formal in 1834, has kept the country at peace for nearly 200 years. Finland's neutrality is a result of a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union in 1948. Belgium has withdrawn a threat to close its airspace and the port of Antwerp to US military traffic, which would have prevented the movement of American equipment from Germany to the Gulf. However, the Belgian Prime Minister has criticised the Americans for not abiding by the international framework.

  From an Irish perspective, the Government is arguing, on moral grounds, that Ireland is not participating in war although common sense and the opponents of the war argue that it is. So much for our neutrality – Ireland is clearly not neutral between the antagonists. Have we tacitly agreed to a war that is illegal by international law and are we formally declaring that our neutrality is a thing of the past? Much is made of Ireland's neutrality but in reality it has no status in our Constitution or law, as Senator O'Toole pointed out. It is a policy decision which was taken by the then Government during World War Two and to which we have conformed ever since as part of our foreign policy. By adoption, if not by law, neutrality is part of our heritage and is not something to be lightly thrown aside or ignored.

  While the chances of Ireland being brought before the International Criminal Court for its role in supporting the war are remote, it is noteworthy that a group of British lawyers has stated its intention of indicting Prime Minister Blair if excessive force is used. The Irish Government should at least be aware of its potential liability in this regard. From a Fine Gael perspective, the debate is wider than the specific issues of neutrality, overflights and landing facilities. We are deeply concerned about the precedent of military action being taken by nations that do not have UN support or sanction. Backed by a Security [174]Council resolution, Fine Gael supported the provision of facilities at Shannon to US forces travelling to the Gulf during the 1991 war on Iraq. Currently, however, the lack of a second UN resolution to authorise war on Iraq spells imminent disaster for the European Union which, as Senator O'Rourke has commented, is already damaged by exchanges between Britain and France and, to some extent, Germany.

  This has to be one of the most harrowing moments in European history, with leaders of the largest member states ranged on opposing sides of the greatest global issue of the day. Concern has, so far, focused on deteriorating relations between the EU and the US through Mr. Chirac's opposition to a new resolution. The risk of worsening Europe's own divisions and causing an immovable breach must also be uppermost in our minds. Historically, the people of Ireland are strongly linked to the US, emotionally, economically and socially. That country has been good to Ireland, supporting millions of Irish people since the Famine. Irish county organisations are respected throughout the United States. Like other Members, I had the opportunity to experience that at first hand last week. One in four people killed in the twin towers on 11 September 2001 was of Irish decent. The grief of Americans in that regard has been our grief and their anger has been our anger, but their war is not our war. Our future relations with the US do not depend on our support for its military actions. It is certainly not a matter of saying, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” Rather is it a matter of close allies agreeing to differ and an opportunity for this small nation to stand up and take its place on the world stage with its neutrality and identity intact.

  Ms Feeney: I wish to share time with Senator Hanafin.

  An Cathaoirleach: Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Ms Feeney: I join in welcoming the Minister of State to the House and thank him for remaining throughout the debate. I wish him every success, together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Government, in what has not been an easy task. I am convinced by the case the Government has made to allow the use of facilities at Shannon by the US. I will be brief as much of what I intended to say has already been said and I do not believe in repetition.

  This country's foreign policy is based on three fundamental pillars – a commitment to the European Union, a commitment to our relationship with the USA and a commitment to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the world. The second of those pillars has served us well in the test of time. We are all conscious of the tangible influence of the US peacemaking and peacekeeping role in Northern Ireland. We also appreciate the substantial direct investment in [175]this country from the US. With regard to the first pillar to which I referred, we are well aware of the visible and tangible benefits Ireland enjoys from its membership of the EU. In relation to the third pillar, a strong United Nations has a major role to play in the modern world.

  I submit that we cannot undermine any of those commitments in the context of what is happening in the Gulf. To do so would be to destabilise our national strategic interest. I agree with the objectives of a military campaign aimed at the removal of weapons of mass destruction. That is essential for the achievement of a democratic Iraq. My one reservation concerns the speedy use of military force. The Irish people and Government have stated their opposition to the war.

  It is in Ireland's long-term strategic interest to allow the continued use of Shannon. Were we to refuse this in the purest terms, some people would welcome that stance. In the long-term, however, it would greatly damage this country. Like other speakers, I am of the view that there is nothing to be gained by refusing facilities at Shannon to the United States but that there is an immense amount to be lost by blocking access. The Opposition must bear in mind that our long-term strategic interest should be paramount.

  Mr. Hanafin: To what benefit would be withdrawal of the use of Shannon? How would it be seen? The Americans would certainly not see it as the Irish nation wrestling with its national conscience. It would be seen as a negative act. Our best hope lies in trying to influence the outcome and the method in regard to the rebuilding of Iraq in the context of humanitarian aid and assistance for its people and by playing the role we have always played – that of a neutral, non-aligned country, but one with interests.

  We would be less than human if we did not recognise the American influence on our lives and its positive influence on the lives of the peoples of Europe. World wars raged in Europe twice in the past century and twice the Americans came to the aid of Europe. After the Second World War, there was still a Soviet threat. Does anyone believe that had American armed forces not been in western Europe, the Russians would have stopped at Berlin? I have no doubt that they would have kept going as far as the Atlantic Ocean. That is how Stalin operated; strength was might and might was right.

  The positive influence on this country should not be overlooked, including economic and cultural benefits and, of course, historic ties. This nation has been very involved in the growth, development and progress of the American nation. Irish people have are fully aware of what is happening politically in America. We have close ties with America and that was reflected during the Second World War as well as at present.

[176]  I accept that we must consider the future. I draw attention to the vulnerability of innocent Iraqi citizens whose humanitarian situation was already precarious. We have a moral responsibility to them. We can bring that responsibility to bear and can draw the attention of the European Union and the American community by requesting humanitarian aid and structural funds when the war is over. In the past 20 years, Iraq has been through two major wars, internal uprisings and more than a decade of debilitating sanctions. Iraq's most vulnerable people – the elderly, women, children and the disabled – are denied basic health care for lack of medicines. This must be addressed immediately the war is over.

  We should have a positive role in that regard. Ireland punches well above its weight on the world stage. That influence should be brought to bear when this war is over with, please God, not too many innocent lives lost. War is hell and an absence of reason and nobody wants it.

  Mr. McCarthy: I regret that the situation in Iraq has reached its current level. Like many other reasonable people in this country, I am a pacifist and opposed to war by any means. However, when one looks at the circumstances surrounding the blatant murder being perpetrated by the USA and the UK in Iraq, one would have to take cognisance of the issues which have led to this illegal war.

  The war will, according to the UN Commission for Human Rights, have a catastrophic impact on the civilian population in Iraq and we must not lose sight of that. Some 46% of the Iraqi population of 22 million are under the age of 15. This is a population weakened by 12 years of sanctions that have left approximately 70% of the population dependent on the Oil for Food Programme. One child in four under the age of five is malnourished. Nonetheless, the Government of our small nation is sponsoring this barbaric murder in Iraq.

  The approach by the Government has been characterised by secrecy, mismanagement and blatant ignorance. There were selective quotes from different Ministers telling us A, B, C and D and informing us that Ireland believed in United Nations resolutions and in the United Nations as an organisation. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, in reply to a written question in the Dáil recently stated:

    No arrangements have been agreed with the US Government to facilitate the use of Shannon Airport for the transfer of troops and equipment to the Middle East. Any request for such agreement will be considered in light of the position of the UN Security Council.

Those who have taken a different view to that of the Government have been accused on various occasions of being on the hard left. How many of [177]the 100,000 who marched in this city recently to oppose this murderous conflict in the Middle East are on the hard left? People cannot voice their protestations about this war in Iraq without being branded as hard left.

  Last week in Washington, the Taoiseach presented a bowl of shamrock and gave a speech that would do justice to a scriptwriter on a Walt Disney film. He went to the USA to lick ASS – which stands for American state security, a Chathaoirligh – and he told that country about the wonderful spirit of Irishness. If Irishness now means that we are to allow Shannon to be used in a war in which innocent Iraqi men, women and children will be murdered, I would be ashamed to call myself Irish and ashamed of an Irish Administration which purports to represent and govern a nation, the people of which, in very large numbers, are opposed to this war.

  There has been much comment on the other side of the House with regard to weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological warheads. Who gave Saddam Hussein these hideous weapons? It was the Americans. The weapons inspectors went to Iraq to find the famous smoking gun when all they had to do was check the receipts in the White House, from where these weapons came. The Government did not want to know that.

  The moment the Irish people began to question the sponsorship of this war by the Government in allowing Shannon to be used by military aircraft, they were branded as being hard left. That is an insult in any Western, civilised democracy. Is there no shame in national Government? Have we lost what men and women fought and died for – sovereignty, independence and freedom – in this country? Eamon de Valera – may he rest in peace – would turn in his grave if he knew that a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach and Government had allowed this country to be bought and paid for with the American dollar. It has nothing to do with morality, ethics, politics or democracy, it boils down to the United States dollar bill. This country, although not in our name, has been bought and paid for by the US dollar.

  Why does the Government not admit that this war is about oil and two men's unending quest for war in the Middle East. When Messrs. Bush and Blair were drumming up support for the war, the Government did not have a clear-cut policy. We were told by one Minister that Ireland would support the United Nations route and that this country had played a very important role in terms of Resolution 1441. I accept that Iraq clearly violated a number of resolutions, but that should be put in context. American allied countries such as Israel, Pakistan and India have violated UN resolutions in treble figures. However, because this does not suit President Bush, he can be selective and treat Resolution 1441 with great sincerity and treat the fact that the Iraqis did not respect it with great fear.

[178]  This country was founded on the principles of independence, democracy, sovereignty and freedom. Neutrality would be very close to the spirit in which it was founded. A previous speaker on the Government side referred to this country as being semi-neutral. We are either neutral or we are not. Is there any concrete Government policy with regard to our position on foreign conflicts? We cannot be neutral when we are co-sponsoring murderous conflict in the Middle East.

  It is regrettable that not a scintilla of morality seems to have been taken into consideration in the Government's decision. It has decided that America is the supreme nation, that the Americans are a supreme race of people and that Ireland is a little lapdog on the western peripheries of Europe that will jump, roll over or play dead when dollars are waved in front of it. It represents a disgusting tendency in the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government.

  Resolutions 678 and 687 do not provide a basis for any action such as the one being taken. They, and all the other resolutions, reserve the right of the Security Council to remain seized of the situation. The seeking of a second resolution acknowledged this. In any event, the forthcoming Geneva convention on the protection of civilians and children in times of war will rule out the conduct of war in the conditions described by many speakers today. It is, for example, illegal to damage infrastructure required for the protection and sustenance of children.

  The war is not supported by the public in any country apart from Israel. Millions of people have marched for peace and for a diplomatic solution. Governments have been placed under pressure to ignore their own citizens by the distortion of development aid, military spending and trade intimidation. This represents a disgusting facet of Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats policy. To confound things further, the Taoiseach, when questioned about the 100,000 people who marched in this city against the conflict, replied that this reflected Government policy. How insulting can he be towards his people and Parliament?

  Are there any political, moral or ethical standards left in this Government? Are we now happy to be seen internationally, including by the millions of people who have marched against this conflict, as a greedy and self-serving people, a nation that now resembles a cash register? This is the Government that last year attempted, in a sinister ploy to woo conservative voters, to insert a pro-life amendment into the Constitution. Where has respect for human life gone? Are we now happy to have men, women and children, who are in no way connected with this war or associated with the military dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, brutally murdered because of oil? That is what this war is about. It is about President Bush and Mr. Blair.

[179]  I would be interested to hear the comments of the Minister of State on the lack of respect this Government has for human life. Have we decided, in 12 short months, that it is all right to butcher, slay, torture and maim innocent civilians in Iraq? Is that the policy of this Government when it comes to respect for life in other countries? It is a sad day when the party founded by Éamon de Valera, which once prided itself on this country's neutrality, finds itself at the beck and call of the US dollar. It is disgusting and depraved.

  Mr. J. Walsh: To echo the sentiments of all Members, war is always unwelcome. It is the innocent and civilians who generally suffer more in times of conflict. If we subscribe to the notion that human life is inviolate, we must agree that war dispenses with that maxim.

  Undoubtedly, Saddam Hussein has been a brutal dictator. Whether he is the worst in the world or not is a problematic question. There may well be others who have exceeded his excesses. Without in any way condoning his regime, I am mindful that his presence in Iraq has to some extent contributed towards a semblance of stability in that troubled region. The war, in current circumstances, is premature. There was still time for weapons inspectors to carry out their functions and for diplomacy. Most people in Europe would agree with that. It would probably not have concluded in any more satisfactory a manner than it did, but would have upheld the principle that war is a last resort. There is a notion that war, at present, is being conducted for reasons of expediency rather than because all avenues of peaceful resolution have been exhausted.

  If we are to welcome anything about the war, it should be that until now it appears to have been conducted with some degree of restraint. I know that truth is the first casualty of war, but we have not seen the indiscriminate bombing that we might initially have expected. This course of action, however, was probably a political imperative. Since the first Gulf War we have seen the emergence of al-Qaeda, which is probably the biggest threat to human civilisation we have seen for a long time. That this is a global threat was highlighted by the appalling atrocities of 11 September 2001 in Washington and New York, which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives. The world must be seen to stand against such wanton terrorism.

  While the course of allowing more time to the weapons inspectors may not have succeeded, it would probably have dispelled notions of self-interest and political expediency, which are important. The non-compliance of Saddam Hussein's regime with UN resolutions over the past 12 years would probably have continued, but a concerted, united front at UN level might just have secured a peaceful solution. This raises [180]serious questions for the UN itself, which will have to be addressed when this war is over.

  It has not been a glorious chapter in the history of the United Nations. This is partly because, while it is understandable that it changed policy following the 11 September 2001 atrocities, in recent weeks the US Administration has taken a belligerent approach. Even allowing for the fact that this may have been designed to encourage the Iraqi Administration to accept the inevitable and avoid war, certain statements by Donald Rumsfeld and by the President about those who would oppose the immediate commencement of hostilities, were most intemperate. The attitude of the US Administration that it would go to war regardless of the decision made by the UN did nothing to support the constructive role the UN could have played.

  Equally, the statement by the French Administration that it would veto almost any resolution, regardless of its wording, was ill-conceived and premature. The whole idea of the veto should be investigated in the context of what happened in this instance. The composition of the UN Security Council should also be investigated because the credibility of some of the participating states has been called into question since this issue arose. There are serious issues to be addressed by the United Nations in reviewing its structure and modus operandi. It is important that such a review takes place because an independent and objective global authority which can regulate world order is needed in a world with only one superpower.

  While the situation in the United Nations is sad, there are similar problems in the European Union. The disunity among our European partners is regrettable and has implications for the European Union as an institution. I am sure all Senators would like to compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Taoiseach on their constructive role in salvaging some semblance of unity in the Council of Ministers at a critical stage. It is unfortunate and regrettable, however, that their achievements were in place for so few days. The European Union's recent problems highlight the need for greater integration of foreign affairs policy among member states. Such integration has implications for all EU membere states. It is unhelpful that so many differing voices should be heard at European level, each articulating a different route to be followed. I would like to see a strong and united EU voice as it could be a great source of stability in the world and a force for world order. Such a move would be important, not only for the Union's interests but also for overall world order.

  The Kosovo debacle showed that there was a need for the European Union to address international issues. It should have the military wherewithal to deal with issues that arise across the world, particularly in the European context. Serious questions have to be asked about this [181]country's neutrality in that context, however. There were good reasons for Ireland to remain neutral in the early years of its independence as there was different balance of power in global affairs. Most commentators who have studied the Second World War and the Cold War would probably say our neutrality gave way to a certain element of pragmatism. Following the collapse of communism, a great deal of global conflict amounts to the difference between good and evil. The Government has a responsibility to review whether the policy of neutrality is appropriate or correct in the current climate. Membership of the European Union which has brought obvious benefits also imposes responsibilities. I suggest that it is time for an honest debate on neutrality and hope something will emerge from such a discussion.

  I listened to many speakers and was interested in Senator McCarthy's comments about the United States. Recent events have provided an opportunity for certain people with anti-US views who generally have a left-wing perspective to take issue with and ridicule that country's foreign policy. It was highly inappropriate for Senator McCarthy to question and denigrate the decision of the Taoiseach who is a representative of the country, not just the Fianna Fáil Party, to meet the US President and present a bowl of shamrock to him in the traditional manner. Anybody who has ever visited the United States around St. Patrick's Day will agree that the celebrations provide a tremendous opportunity for Ireland to show its wares and goodwill and extend its influence in one of the world's leading economies.

  If there is anything we can be proud of as a nation, it is that we have secured a tremendous worldwide reputation in relation to international issues since our independence, and long may it continue. I understand people locked in the mindset of a failed ideology will probably continue to articulate anti-American views but we should remember that many emigrated from this country to the United States between the 1840s and the 1920s. Over 40 million people living in the United States claim to be of Irish extraction. America was a tremendous friend to Ireland during its struggle for independence. The economic ties between the two countries are renowned. There are over 500 US companies in Ireland, accounting for almost one third of this country's total manufacturing exports. We will be eternally grateful for the contribution of the former US President, Mr. Clinton, and his Administration to the peace process in the North. It is natural that we would support a good friend during a time of need. Other speakers have included the United Kingdom in Ireland's friendship commitments but I do not think one can apply the argument I have made in relation to the United States to the United Kingdom if one examines the centuries of serious impositions on us.

[182]  The motion before the House refers to overflights and refuelling at Shannon Airport. The distinction between making new facilities available and maintaining the status quo has not been referred to in this debate. A decision to withdraw the services we have offered to the United States would not be in line with the policies of other European and Arab countries. The Government's decision in this regard is the right one.

  I am concerned about what will happen in the aftermath of this conflict. The President of the United States, Mr. Bush, has articulated a vision in this regard but it may prove more difficult than he envisages. The Kurdish community, found in a part of northern Iraq which contains many oil fields, may find itself in strong contention with the Turks. One hopes Turkey will not illustrate clearly to the European Union, by taking certain hostile action in the current circumstances, the reason it should not be admitted as a member state. The risk that Shiite Muslims in the southern part of Iraq may engender a fundamentalist regime should be treated as a matter of concern. The role of Iran in that regard has to be seriously monitored.

  It is essential that a much more even-handed approach to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is adopted. Any progress on current international difficulties must be predicated on an agreed resolution of this long running conflict. Let us hope some good emanates from the difficult and regrettable hostilities in the Middle East.

  Ms Terry: I thank the Minister of State for staying in the House for so long to listen to this debate. I sympathise with the families of the American and British soldiers who lost their lives in the war earlier this morning. I also extend my sympathies to the families of Iraqi civilians who have died. I regret to say it is likely that many more, on both sides of the conflict, will lose their lives in the coming days and weeks. Death is inevitable during a war.

  I regret that this war is taking place and the way in which it has come about. People waited for many weeks as the UN Security Council tried to agree on a new resolution. It is most regrettable that one did not come about. The Taoiseach said in the Dáil on 19 February that it was a political imperative that a second UN resolution should be secured. Where did we go wrong? How did he lose his way in the meantime? The fact that a second resolution which should have been a political imperative has not been agreed has weakened the Security Council. It will take time to rebuild the trust we had in it.

  The question of Irish neutrality has to be debated seriously. Many speakers on the Government side referred to our neutrality. It was said that we are neutral, that we are not neutral and that there is no such thing as neutrality. I was absolutely shocked by what some Senators said. [183]It is time the Minster of State and the Taoiseach came clean on our position in regard to neutrality. This issue was hotly debated recently when we voted on the Nice treaty. Irish neutrality is important and if there is a change in Government thinking in regard to it, I ask the Minister of State to inform us about it. Is our neutrality gone? Where do we now stand in regard to it?

  It also upset me greatly to hear speakers refer to our dependence on our friendship with America in terms of the economy. I accept that America is our friend. I am not anti-American. I have a son living in America who will continue to live there and I will continue to welcome Americans who visit Ireland, particularly when they are providing so many jobs here. I am appalled by those who say that not supporting this war will cost the country many jobs. The war is either right or wrong. It does not sit well with me to say that we must sell our souls because of our dependence on the US economy and its investment here.

  If America and Ireland are friends we should be able to speak to each other and say when something is right or wrong. We should not have to pay or suffer for that, although that is what some of the Government Senators appear to believe. They have bowed down to the Americans and agreed to back this war because they do not want to jeopardise American investment here. That is a shameful situation and it is the one that has been adopted by the Government.

  Some 100,000 people marched on our streets in opposition to this war. While I support those people, I abhor the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Does the matter have to be settled by war? Can we not first exhaust the use of diplomatic means to try to achieve a resolution to the problems in Iraq? I am unhappy with the way in which our Government has agreed to allow the overflights and refuelling in Shannon. I deplore the fact that the United Nations was ignored and that we did not take enough time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. Why was more time not accorded to Hans Blix who believed that a peaceful resolution could be found? I cannot understand why we rushed into this situation. We needed more time and it should have been provided.

  Mr. J. Phelan: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important debate and I appreciate that the Minister of State has remained for the duration. Senators have expressed diverse views on this issue and there have been many outstanding contributions to the debate, as well as several which were less than impressive.

  I was particularly taken by the contribution of Senator O'Toole and I found myself in agreement with much of what he had to say. Like him, I am not a pacifist. I believe war can be justified in certain circumstances. The former American [184]President, Jimmy Carter, said on one occasion that war may sometimes be the lesser of two evils. From what I can ascertain, he appears to be opposed to this war and I concur with this view. I do not accept that this war is justified. Over the past 50 years the United Nations has been the arbiter on the world stage to intervene in such situations. In the past few days the United States and the UK have acted without a mandate from the United Nations to engage in war in Iraq. While in the long term it may well have become necessary to use force to change the regime in Iraq, I do not accept the justification for the haste with which the attack was made.

  I was particularly taken aback by some of the contributions of Government Senators. Senator Leyden spoke about Ireland being semi-neutral, which is a completely new term for me and, I am sure, for many members of the Fianna Fáil Party. They, and the Minister of State, will be interested in his analysis that Ireland is a semi-neutral country. I did not believe that to be the case, but perhaps after the Senator's little run-in yesterday at the gates he has reconsidered his views on neutrality.

  Acting Chairman (Mr. Mooney): They may be slightly coloured.

  Mr. J. Phelan: He is the first Irish casualty of the second Gulf War. I am glad to see him back.

  I was also taken aback by the contribution of Senator Feeney who spoke about Irish foreign policy. She said there were three fundamental planks in Irish foreign policy but she never mentioned the word “neutrality”. This is a Fianna Fáil Senator and the Fianna Fáil Party has always held neutrality as the sacred cow of its founding father, Éamon de Valera. I found it a remarkable contribution.

  I was not surprised by the stance of the Progressive Democrat Senators, Morrissey and Minihan, who seemed to finally announce that we should shut up shop and become the 51st state of the union. That had been the all-but-stated policy of their leader during this debate.

  While a war in Iraq may be necessary in certain circumstances, I do not think it is justified at this point. It is only a few short weeks since the Taoiseach said that a second resolution from the Security Council was a political imperative. At that time, the Minister for Foreign Affairs also said that force should only be used as a last resort when every other possibility had been tried and failed. The hollowness of those statements has been revealed. They can be added to the broken promises from the leaders of this Administration.

  I am not anti-American. Like many Members, I have family in America. Yesterday, a cousin of mine from Chicago visited this Chamber. He is opposed to the war, although he fought in the Vietnam War and his eldest son is on a US war[185]ship in the Persian Gulf at this time. He was very upset, which is understandable, given his family situation. He is opposed to this war on Iraq and felt that America and Britain had rushed into it. While he was not strictly anti-war, he was of the view that every other avenue should have been exhausted.

  It is from this point of view that Fine Gael has proposed an amendment to the Government motion. It believes in the preservation of the primacy of the UN Security Council. Everyone acknowledges that the United Nations is in need of reform. Perhaps it is too late for such reform and the United Nations has been fatally damaged. At this time we have no way of knowing whether the blow to it will be fatal.

  The UN Charter provides an opportunity for a world where there will be collective control over aggression and aggressors. Western governments have continually looked to Saddam Hussein's regime and told it to uphold and respect institutions such as the United Nations, yet in commencing this war the American and British Governments have circumvented the United Nations which is the only institution which prevents the emergence of anarchy in the world. If Iraq is being attacked this week, who will be attacked next week?

  While I am not anti-American, I acknowledge that many of those who are anti-war are. I have no truck with such people. Neither do I have any truck with Sinn Féin, a party of peace-lovers on this side of the Border while on the other their associates continue to use violence. It is utterly hypocritical. I have no truck with its objections to this war.

  The war could have been avoided if all diplomatic means had been exhausted and more time had been spent in trying to disarm Iraq by peaceful means. I remember the first Gulf War and the arms inspectors who went to Iraq afterwards. They seemed to be carrying out their role quite well before they were expelled. There were no inspections for a couple of years. All of sudden, inspectors returned a couple of months ago and there has been a mad and unseemly rush for a resolution to the problem. When so much time has passed, I do not see what harm waiting a few further months could have done to the prospects of disarming Saddam Hussein without military force. It should have been more thoroughly examined.

  The war is now on and Ireland will have to make decisions. While it has many ties with America, personal and emotional as well as economic, we must defend the supremacy of the United Nations as the governing body of international relations. That is the reason Fine Gael has proposed the amendment and opposes the use of Shannon Airport by the American military in the current circumstances. I am proud of the courageous move taken it in standing up and [186]being counted on this issue. I hope the war concludes quickly with the minimum of casualties on all sides. Ireland has made a mistake by not taking a stand on the issue. We should and could have done so.

  Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. T. Kitt): This has been a long and worthwhile debate. I have always respected the views of this House and having listened to both sides of the argument there is no doubt that this has added to debates in the Dáil and those held here previously. This has been a difficult issue from the outset and there are strongly held views on both sides. I explained to Members the reason the Government has adopted a position after careful consideration of the Ireland's national interests. We believe it to be the most consistent policy that can be adopted in the current difficult circumstances.

  During our time on the Security Council we worked hard to assist the international efforts in averting conflict. It is a matter of regret that they could not prevail. We also contributed, as has been acknowledged, to the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1441 that offered Iraq a last opportunity to bring itself into compliance with its obligations. However, we know the history; conflict has broken out and military action is at an early stage. We hope the participants will make every effort to minimise loss of life, particularly by sparing the civilian population from the worst consequences of military action. We urge all combatants to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. Members referred to RTE's coverage of the conflict which I agree has been balanced. RTE has risen to the occasion as it has in the past.

  I agree with those Members who said all wars were brutal and cruel affairs and the current war is no exception. I agree with those who have suggested its portrayal on television is akin to a high technology virtual reality event. The reality is that this will be even more brutal and devastating than previous well-documented wars.

  A number of Members referred to neutrality. The Government has always said that making peripheral facilities available at Shannon Airport does not amount to participation in a war and does not affect our neutrality any more than it did in any conflict over the past 50 years. Members will be aware that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has clearly spelled out our position on neutrality. Senators could also consult my speech on the issue in the Dáil in the debate on the Sinn Féin Private Members' Bill. It is quite detailed and important that we spell out these issues.

  The Minister for Foreign Affairs made Ireland's position on the legality of the use of force known at the United Nations and sought a second Security Council resolution. The United [187]States and Britain have long held the view that earlier resolutions already mandated the use of force and that no further authorisation is required. They are acting in this belief. It is clear that there is no generally accepted view on the validity of the different interpretations. It is unlikely that agreement will be reached on this point.

  In addition to direct casualties, the conflict will bring great destruction and dislocation. There can be no doubt that we will face a grave humanitarian emergency during and after the conflict. Ireland stands ready in assisting the people of Iraq in recovering from this emergency. I have already outlined the measures we have in place to give effect to this commitment. We are in a position to respond rapidly and help our partner organisations to respond to the situation as it develops and ensure assistance reaches the most vulnerable and those most in need. The humanitarian situation will call for united action by the entire international community so that the long-suffering people of Iraq can recover from the consequences of the immediate crisis with the shortest possible delay. With such support, we hope to see the people of Iraq make a rapid transition to the reconstruction of their country after years of suffering from conflict and sanctions.

  Central to this will be the work which is under way to reinstate the oil for food programme with an enhanced role for the United Nations. Ireland welcomes these moves and hopes to see the Secretary General's proposals brought to maturity as soon as possible. We stand ready to assist with the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. I am confident the Government will be supported by all sides in its commitment.

  The world needs an effective United Nations, a point made by many speakers who contributed to this debate. As the conflict in Iraq unfolds in the coming days, the world – even more so, the people of Iraq – will need an effective United Nations more than ever. It is thus all the more important that the Security Council puts its divisions behind it and works to re-establish its unity and purpose of action.

  Europe has also been referred to and the crisis has deeply divided its member states. I was happy to see that, at last night's meeting of the European Council, the EU has begun to lead the way in seeking to re-establish unity of purpose among the international community. Significant challenges lie ahead and we will overcome them only if we act in concert with a common purpose. The Government will play its part in the efforts to ensure that the UN system overcomes this crisis [188]and maintains its role at the centre of an effective system of collective international security.

  A number of Members rightly referred to the aftermath of the conflict. This is a complex area and is by no means black and white. The international community and, in particular, the superpowers must emerge from this conflict with a greater sensitivity towards the concerns of the many countries in the Arab world. They will have to become more sensitive to the pressures on governments in the Muslim world which, in many cases, are endeavouring to fight the growth of terrorism within their own borders and will now, no doubt, have to deal with increased anti-western sentiments among their populations. We will need a more balanced approach in the months and years ahead.

  We must also recognise that poverty breeds terrorism and ensure that wealthy nations recognise that by tacking inequality and injustice in the world. My experience as Minister of State with responsibility for overseas development is that this is an issue that should never be ignored. We should recognise the significant divide that exists between the rich and poor, the developed and developing worlds, as well as issues such as debt relief and trade and development which underlie much of the growth of inequality in the world. These are the complex issues around this conflict which we must not ignore.

  The war is in progress, which is a reality. It is also a reality that there will be great suffering by the vulnerable in Iraq. I hope this can be minimised and I join with those who called for the parties to the conflict to observe humanitarian law. I have a responsibility, as Minister of State with responsibility for development, to ameliorate the suffering of those most affected by the conflict and I will be working with NGOs which have a proven capacity to deliver essential services on the ground to those most in need. In that context, I will meet with NGOs next Tuesday and we will continue to work with UN agencies like UNICEF, the UNHCR and the World Food Programme which have a significant capacity to assist women, children, the displaced and the elderly.

  I want to see the UN at the heart of this humanitarian effort and many Senators have rightly referred to the need for this to happen. The UN has a proven capacity for leadership and co-ordination in the recovery effort and can play a role in rebuilding the institutions of government and democracy. My first aim is to save lives and, in the longer term, to rebuild the livelihoods of the people of Iraq. I commend the motion to the House and thank Members for their participation.

  Amendment put.

[189]

    Bannon, James.

    Bradford, Paul.

    Browne, Fergal.

    Burke, Paddy.

    Feighan, Frank.

    McCarthy, Michael.

    McDowell, Derek.

[190]    Norris, David.

    O'Toole, Joe.

    Phelan, John.

    Ryan, Brendan.

    Terry, Sheila.

    Tuffy, Joanna.

    

Níl

    Bohan, Eddie.

    Brady, Cyprian.

    Brennan, Michael.

    Daly, Brendan.

    Feeney, Geraldine.

    Fitzgerald, Liam.

    Glynn, Camillus.

    Hanafin, John.

    Hayes, Maurice.

    Kenneally, Brendan.

    Kett, Tony.

    Leyden, Terry.

    Minihan, John.

    Mooney, Paschal C.

    Morrissey, Tom.

    Moylan, Pat.

    O'Rourke, Mary.

    Ó Murchú, Labhrás.

    Phelan, Kieran.

    Quinn, Feargal.

    Ross, Shane.

    Scanlon, Eamon.

    Walsh, Jim.

    Walsh, Kate.

    Wilson, Diarmuid.

    

Tellers: Tá, Senators J. Phelan and Terry; Níl, Senators Minihan and Moylan.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Mr. Ryan: I move amendment No. 2:

    To delete all words after “Seanad Éireann” and substitute the following:

    – Notes the decision of the United States, the United Kingdom and others to launch a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq in defiance of the United Nations Charter;

    – Condemns the threat or use of war, especially before diplomatic alternatives have been exhausted;

    – Notes with alarm the statement by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees that a war would be ‘a catastrophe for civilians' and a recent UN report pointing out that consequences of a war would include half a million direct or indirect casualties, the outbreak of disease affecting one million children and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians;

    – Expresses shock at the abandonment by the Government of its frequently stated commitment to the role of the UN Inspectors as a means of avoiding war;

    – Deplores the failure of the Government to promote alternatives to war or to support other countries who sought a peaceful solution to this issue;

    – Further notes that by its silence the Government has failed to reflect the views of the Irish people;

    – Deplores the decision of the Government, in the above circumstances, to provide facilities at Shannon Airport for US personnel and equipment in transit to the war, in breach of Ireland's long stated commitment to the principle of military neutrality and calls on the Government to cease forthwith any co-operation or assistance to those operating outside of the United Nations Charter.

  Mr. McDowell: I second the amendment.

  Amendment put.

    Bannon, James.

    Bradford, Paul.

    Browne, Fergal.

    Burke, Paddy.

    Feighan, Frank.

    McCarthy, Michael.

    McDowell, Derek.

    Norris, David.

    O'Toole, Joe.

    Phelan, John.

    Ryan, Brendan.

    Terry, Sheila.

    Tuffy, Joanna.

    [191]

Níl

    Bohan, Eddie.

    Brady, Cyprian.

    Brennan, Michael.

    Daly, Brendan.

    Feeney, Geraldine.

    Fitzgerald, Liam.

    Glynn, Camillus.

    Hanafin, John.

    Hayes, Maurice.

    Kenneally, Brendan.

    Kett, Tony.

    Leyden, Terry.

    Minihan, John.

[192]    Mooney, Paschal C.

    Morrissey, Tom.

    Moylan, Pat.

    O'Rourke, Mary.

    Ó Murchú, Labhrás.

    Phelan, Kieran.

    Quinn, Feargal.

    Ross, Shane.

    Scanlon, Eamon.

    Walsh, Jim.

    Walsh, Kate.

    Wilson, Diarmuid.

    

Tellers: Tá, Senators McCarthy and Tuffy; Níl, Senators Minihan and Moylan.

  Amendment declared lost.

  Question put: “That the motion be agreed to”.

    Bohan, Eddie.

    Brady, Cyprian.

    Brennan, Michael.

    Daly, Brendan.

    Feeney, Geraldine.

    Fitzgerald, Liam.

    Glynn, Camillus.

    Hanafin, John.

    Hayes, Maurice.

    Kenneally, Brendan.

    Kett, Tony.

    Leyden, Terry.

    Minihan, John.

    Mooney, Paschal C.

    Morrissey, Tom.

    Moylan, Pat.

    O'Rourke, Mary.

    Ó Murchú, Labhrás.

    Phelan, Kieran.

    Quinn, Feargal.

    Ross, Shane.

    Scanlon, Eamon.

    Walsh, Jim.

    Walsh, Kate.

    Wilson, Diarmuid.

    

Níl

    Bannon, James.

    Bradford, Paul.

    Browne, Fergal.

    Burke, Paddy.

    Feighan, Frank.

    McCarthy, Michael.

    McDowell, Derek.

    Norris, David.

    O'Toole, Joe.

    Phelan, John.

    Ryan, Brendan.

    Terry, Sheila.

    Tuffy, Joanna.

    

Tellers: Tá, Senators Minihan and Moylan; Níl, Senators J. Phelan and Tuffy.

  Question declared carried.

  An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?

  Ms O'Rourke: At 2.30 p.m. next Tuesday, 25 March 2003.

  The Seanad adjourned at 5.15 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 25 March 2003.