In reaction to press reports of violence during the protests at the Labour Party conference at NUI Galway, Galway’s local peace group, the Galway Alliance Against War, has issued the following statement.
“GAAW’s symbolic funeral for Irish neutrality was at the head of Saturday’s protest march to the Labour Party conference. The tricolour-draped coffin carried by four pallbearers dressed as Guantanamo prisoners was a poignant image with a strong message: Irish neutrality is dead since consecutive Irish governments – including the FG-Labour coalition - have colluded with Washington’s disastrous “war on terror”, which has turned Shannon airport into a US warport.
“ In response to the sensational media reports of violence, we would ask, what violence? Apart from the unnecessary use of pepper spray by the Gardaí there was nothing other than some pushing and shoving. It has to be said that the Gardaí were quite restrained. This reflects the disaffection of the Gardaí with the policies that are impacting on the vast majority of Irish citizens, including members of the Gardaí. But perhaps the most ludicrous media report was that our coffin was used as a "battering ram". The fact that nobody was hurt by the coffin – only by pepper spray - shows that report to be nonsense.
“If the Irish media wants to know about violence then perhaps it should turn its attention to the military hardware including chemical weapons that have travelled through Shannon warport en route to Iraq and Afghanistan. Take a look at the reports of the US attack on Fallujah in 2004 and its aftermath, where white phosphorous was used that came via Shannon.
“Or maybe the Irish media should read the testimony of “extraordinary rendition” victim Binyam Mohamad. His CIA kidnappers and torturers travelled through Shannon warport on two occasions and even stayed overnight en route to bring Mr Mohamad to torture. Now there is real violence. The Irish state was in breach of international law. And the present government is also in breach, as Gilmore has refused to search any of the US warplanes travelling through Shannon, preferring to accept the highly unreliable assurances of his confidant the US ambassador.
“And if the Irish media has still not got an understanding about what violence is, then maybe they should look at the body count from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So far more than 1.5 million people have been killed. And Irish governments under Fianna Fail, the PDs, the Greens, Fine Gael and Labour have been accessories to these killings. Yes, they have blood on their hands and so has the Irish people because we have failed to prevent our airports and air space to be used by the US warmongers.
“Indeed, Eamon Gilmore in his speech to conference hailed his government’s collusion in the “war on terror” in Afghanistan as something to be proud of: ‘I want to pay tribute tonight to …the members of our Defence Forces and Gardaí serving in … Afghanistan…They all represent the best of what it is to be Irish.’
“By bringing Irish neutrality’s coffin to the conference hall door we wanted to raise the real issues of violence that Ireland is involved in and which the powers-that-be and the media prefer to ignore.”
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