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rabbitte seeks clarification from Bertie on use of Shannon

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Tuesday January 21, 2003 18:26author by Cathy Flanagan - Labour Partyauthor email head_office at labour dot ieauthor address 17 Ely Place, Dublin 2author phone 6784700

rabbitte accuses Government of taking on the role of silent spectator as we drift towards war, questions the use of Shannon airport by US military forces and calls for a debate in the Dail.


The Leader of the Labour Party, Pat rabbitte TD, has written to the Taoiseach asking him to clarify the government's position in regard to the provision of facilities at Shannon Airport for United States military forces who are participating in the U.S. preparations for war against Iraq and requesting the government to agree to a Dail debate on the deteriorating situation as a first priority as soon as the House returns next week.

In his letter Deputy rabbitte said:
"I have found widespread public concern in this country at the ongoing preparations for war at a time when the United Nations Inspectors have still to discharge the mandate given to them by the Security Council. The extent of the U.S. military build-up must give rise to suspicion that the United States intends to proceed with military action, regardless of the findings of the Inspectors and irrespective of whether any further military action might be sanctioned by the Security Council.

"Against this background there must be concern about the growing use of Shannon Airport as an apparent staging post for the military build-up. Facilities that might quite properly be made available to a friendly country during peacetime, may not be appropriate during the course of a war, or in the build up to a war.

"I would therefore ask you to respond to the following questions as soon as possible.
1) What facilities have been sought by United States military forces and what
facilities have the government agreed to provide?

2) What steps are being taken to ensure that aircraft landing at Shannon do
not contain arms or munitions for which permission has not been granted by the government?
3) What steps are being taken to enforce Section 317 of the Defence Act, 1954
which explicitly states that 'no person shall, save with the consent in writing of a Minister of State, enter or land in the State while wearing any foreign uniform'?
4) Is it the intention of the government to continue to provide facilities at
Shannon, if a war is launched and particularly if military action is initiated without the specific consent of the Security Council?
5) Is it the intention of the government to move a motion in the Dail
approving of the provision of facilities, similar to that passed by the House on January 18th 1991 at the opening of the Gulf War?

"I also have to express my disappointment that the government has not been more active and vocal in efforts to avoid what is likely to be a war involving substantial loss of life. Ireland appears to have largely taken on the role of silent spectator as we drift towards war. There is much more that could and
should be done to avert a war and this country should be mobilising
international support for efforts to find a peaceful solution to this crisis.

"I would urge the government to live up to the spirit and letter of Article 29.2 of the Constitution that commits this state to 'the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination'. This should, of course, include exerting all possible pressure on Saddam Hussein to comply in full with all United Nations resolutions.

"Given the gravity of the situation, it is essential that when the Dail returns next week there should be a full scale debate on this crisis in which the government would say what steps it is taking to promote a pacific settlement of this dispute and to explain the basis on which it is providing facilities at Shannon Airport for the U.S. build up", the letter concluded.

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Comments (16 of 16)

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author by Gerpublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 18:39author address author phone

The Labour Party are not genuine. We can all see it a mile off, you have a new leader and you are trying to portray yourselves as radical. Well, it wont wash with me. Your party is openly a bosses party, you support privitisations, cuts, tax amnesties, social partnership, coalition, the market economy, refuse charges...

You are of the same party as Blair who is at the moment cheering on war in Iraq while he is putting the fire fighters out on strike. There is no fundamental difference between the Irish Labour Party and your European fellow careerists. You are a party of capital and should not be allowed hijack the anti war movement.




author by Justin Moran - Sinn Feinpublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 19:00author email maigh_nuad at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone

Though no friend of the Labour party I am curious as to people's stance on it, or indeed my party, joining the Anti-War Movement. Granted Labour or Sinn Féin might not have the ideology some of youse want but would you actually prefer no support, or even outright opposition from these organisations or would you want their support?

If they don't support you, can they be castigated for ignoring the people, and if they listen to you, will you simply then attack them for their hypocrisy?

author by nonaligned observerpublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 19:19author address author phone

with you all the way there justin.

author by ex-stickpublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 19:22author address author phone

I welcome the involvement of ordinary members of the Labour Party (and any other party) in the anti-war movement and acknowledge the past involvement of a small number of leading Labourites such as Michael D etc. However Im not fooled by the sudden interest of Rabbite, De Rossa etc. when they took absolutely no interest up until now. Its simply a cynical manouevre by the new leadership to gain electoral popularity and theres nothing wrong with exposing it as such. Once again I address the same question to the genuine anti-war activists in the Labour Party:

Would Labour in government immediately halt the use of Shannon by US warplanes?

How come the Labour leadership is now opposed to the war build-up but had no problem during the Nice referendum, backing the NATO linked RRF?

What has the Lab Party done to oppose (through the PES or Socialist International) the key role being played by the Blair Government in backing Bush's rush to war?

Any chance of rational answers rather than invective?

And yes I have been consistently involved in the anti-war movement since the begining both mass demos and direct action and no Im not denigrating those members of Labour who have also done same.

author by Akirapublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 19:58author address author phone

can't you see the labour party & sinn fein are just carreerist politicians, willing to jump on any bandwago anywhere for some sort of brownie points for there parties, it's all bull they are just carreerist politicians! the real power is in the streets not with these hanger ons

author by ??publication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 22:26author address author phone

How do you expect to get anything done??

You have brought attention to this issue to the point now where politicians are paying attention and making moves towards change. Isn't that a good thing? So are you going to keep up the pressure and work with those who are now listening to you or are you going to blow it with your petty squabbles?

author by Timpublication date Tue Jan 21, 2003 23:54author address author phone

Don't waste energy saying not to trust politicticians.
We know what most of them are, just putting pressure on them will make them make some move just to follow public opinion.
Meanwhile, as usual, the ordinary people of Ireland will be the ones to try fix the problems.

author by labour haterpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:10author address author phone

I thnk that people that are defending labour taking part in the anti-war movement should ask themselves what is the Labour party.

The Labour party are a big business party. They support the market economy, coalitions, social 'partnership', tax amnesties, privatisation, nice treaty, etc.

I would welcome ordinary members of the Labour Party to the movement, but THEY HAVE NOT GOT ANY! Labour have long emptied out of genuine active members. Labour are seen by most young people as a bunch of careerist establishement politicians. Labour Youth only have about 30 active members nationwide!!

The reason why I oppose Labour being involved isn't their crap politics and famished membership, it's because of THEY ARE USING the movement to appear more 'radical'.

author by Durutti Columnpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:29author address author phone

Just curious, the 30 members in Labour Youth is the typical SP/SY line. Its a bit rich of a Socialist Party member to be objecting to Labour press releases on indymedia when Kev of the SP posts so much SP materiel.

author by OK - SPpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:40author address author phone

I dont know who it is that is saying there are only 30 active people in LY. I dont think you can say that it's a SP member saying that.

Although I will refer you to an interview with a Labour MSP John McAllion. He mentions the nature of the Labour Party membership

".....there are not many [active LP members] left now. The party has very few trade unionists there are virtually no young people, except those who come from the universities and they're only interested in a career. "

My experience of the Labour Party is that young people are careerists and they are not too active either.

author by Pat Cpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 11:48author address author phone

The MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) is in the Scottish Labour Party. What is under discussion here is the Irish Labour Party. I cant see how the MSPs views on the state of the Scottish Labour Party are in any way relevant to the Irish Labour Party.

I am not a Labour Party supporter but I dont see how the campaign against the Gulf War is going to be built by people launching sectarian attacks on Labour. This should be a single issue campaign.

I'm not saying you should forget your differences with Labour on other issues, but they are not relevant to this campaign.

author by Paul O'Donnellpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:15author address author phone

Until they get a better offer and jump on a better bandwagon!

The party that supported the ramming down our throats of the second Nice Treaty referendum!

And don't forget the DL ship-jumpers who as DL supported the Amsterdam Treaty and Nice and whose former leader Frank Ross has become one of the most right wing and pro Euro integrationist members of that party.

author by Pat Cpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:17author address author phone

OK you used the 30 LY members routine yourself in the past (example below). Previous postings of Labour hater suggest s/he is in SP or a supporter (example below).

"in fairness Pat C
by OK - SP Mon, Jan 13 2003, 5:13pm
SP members know the Labour Party fairly well. Labour Party do not attract radical youth anymore, and could actually turn some people off the anti-war movement. Labour are no longer a party with an active membership. Labour Youth have only 30 or so active members nationwide!"

"Labour Youth, how you have changed
by Labour hater Fri, Jan 17 2003, 3:40pm
They should really call Labour Youth "the New Labour Youth"
I remember when Labour Youth were actually active on the issues, they atually had members, and those members were not just careerists.
Currently LY is a small collection of careerists. They only have 30 active members nationwide, and they are mainly in the Universities!!!
If there are any LY people out there I'll give you a little history lesson. In the 1980s LY supported the Militant Tendency and the struggle to recalim the Labour Party. As a result LY was abolished, Militant expelled, and LY was reconstituted with more control from HQ. You are now a shadow of your former selves."

author by OK - SPpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 17:45author address author phone

yeah I did say Labour Youth only have 30 or so active members. So have others, you give an example in your last posting. Someone else said it on this thread also.

The chances are that it's definitely true then. If 2 other different people said that LY only have 30 active members, there may well be truth to it, no-one has denied it. I heard it originally from a reliable source anyway.

author by Cian - Labour Youthpublication date Wed Jan 22, 2003 19:17author address author phone

I don't think that it is of massive interest, but in case anyone is interested.

Labour Youth has active members in UCD, Trinity, NUI Galway, DCU, Tallaght IT, Athlone IT and UCC.

The membership of the branch in UCD for example has more than doubled in the last year to more than 80. In UCC, a new branch has been set up this year and has over 100 members.

We also have members around the country outside of the colleges, which include a group that is becoming active in Dun Laoghaire.

I would estimate that we have several hundred members. Of course, the same as all parties, we have far more members on paper than active members.

The SP might pay attention to the fact that while there was 80 or so at the Labour Youth conference last November, the SP could only muster 100 for the conference of their entire party.

On another note while Labour Youth was "reformed" after the expulsion of Militant to keep it under rigid control, it now has the "freedom" to change its own constitution again. Which worries me sligthly - Its a sure sign that we aren't doing anything to get up anyones nose.

Anyway whats important about the anti war movement, is nt what Labour or any other single party is doing. What is important is that everyone against the war works for a broad a movement as possible, in whatever way they think works best. This can range from organising meetings to marches, from street theatre to direct action.

author by OK - SPpublication date Thu Jan 23, 2003 00:25author address author phone

I agree with you cian, it doesn't really matter. I think that a 'your party is bigger than my party' debate is a waste of time.

At the end of the day it's not numbers that matters it's the quality of the politics and people in the organisation that matters.

there were about 100 delegates at the conference, and there were plenty of non-delegates there!

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