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Irish collusion in rendition flights November 30, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, World Affairs.

There has been extensive coverage of the contentious ‘Irish collusion in rendition flights’ issue in the media of late.  It’s one that is bound to cause a large amount of controversy and anger among those of us on this island who want nothing to do with war in Iraq, US or UK foreign policy or any of the provocative Western exertions in the troubled Middle East.

People the world over must be pissing themselves with laughter at our politicians who have their hands in pies on both sides of this argument – after all they can do no wrong, have never done wrong and will walk the next election.  Sure all it took was a few backhanders in a Manchester hotel for Bertie to become the most popular Taoiseach ever – Jaysis iddn’t it a great little country hah ?

The issue at hand is the use of Irish airports – primarily Shannon airport, in Co. Clare – by American planes who were then, or were at one point, involved in the process described as extraordinary rendition. It’s a phrase many people may have heard but not really thought too deeply about. We do, after all, become quite easily desensitised to the terrible daily occurrences the world over.

What this process means is that untried, unconvicted people who the US considers to be a threat to them are lifted – sometimes kidnapped illegally – from their country of origin and moved in these planes, to countries other than the US for internment and interrogation. For interrogation, read torture. Torture !  They couldn’t be brought to the US because they would be subject to certain treaties (e.g. Geneva) which prevent torture.

These planes land in Ireland to refuel and use our airports and airspace to safely get to their destination. The Irish government has an agreement with the American government that allows these planes to land in our airports. The moot point is whether any of these planes had one of these so-called suspects on board when it was in Ireland or whether the planes were empty. The Irish government, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, trusts the word of the Americans and has assured the Irish people that there are indeed no prisoners on these planes when they land here.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and a recent draft (and leaked !) European Parliamentary report (Ireland’s Prionsias de Rossa was involved) does not accept the word of the Americans or at least says we should not accept them at face value. The report blacklists Ireland as one of a number of countries who are involved in the rendition process. The government are simply going mad about this and the top man himself (TMH) , Bertie, has now jumped on the bandwagon of assurance saying in today’s Irish Independent …  “We asked had they ever used Ireland as a base, as a hub, as a destination and the answer to that categorically was “No”. ”  That from the ultimate asses’ horse’s mouth, no less.

So those are the facts – planes do land. The US and Irish governments say there’s no prisoners on them and the rest of the world says “Yeah right! “. The thing is the Minister, speaking yesterday on Newstalk 106 radio, said that there was no problem with the Gardaí (aah, the wonderful Gardaí) inspecting planes if anyone has good reason to believe that there was a prisoner on it. Note how he didn’t mention “board the plane” ? It seems that when it comes to actually going onto the planes, they are prepared to accept the word of the Yankee doodle standing at the top of the steps. “No siree, we ain’t got no hoojahs on here!” “Grand so !” says PJ the beleaguered looking copper on the runway, loudspeaker in hand and arse itching off him with the want of sitting down.

In my opinion, even if a prisoner never landed at Shannon (oh and by the way it definetly happened on 11th June last but we let them away with it because they made a technical error!), the fact that planes landing in Shannon would eventually land in Morocco or Egypt or Iraq or somewhere to take these people away is still the same … we are still involved.  “Ah sure we don’t agree with this oul rendition lark at all – ’tis terrible !”  “But yes of course we’ll allow the Americans to land planes involved in the same process at our airports – its makes it all right because theres nobody on them, you see, that might be getting the oul torture !  Say nattin’ hah !”  An Irish attitude if ever there was one …

I’ll tell you what Bertie, George and Mad Mullah – you show me weapons of mass destruction and how all the killing and massacre going on in Iraq has anything to do with “freedom and democracy” and then I’ll believe you. Until then you are sullying the word democracy in both countries – I hope the world remembers you at the next ballot box and time writes nothing about you all but a pathetic paragraph of derision in the annals of history for that, sirs, is barely all you deserve !
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1. Greens join Government « The Rambling Man - June 15, 2007

[…] had to weigh up decisions like this one and also the continuation of the Shannon stop-over for dodgy American flights; but they still joined the government. An alarm bell rang in my head yesterday when Labour leader […]

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