Thursday, May 17, 2007

The capitals of tin

The Irish election is one week away, on the 24th of May.

As a declared neutral country, the current party in control of Ireland have allowed Shannon airport in west Ireland to be used by the US military – both for transporting troops, and also for military contractors to Iraq.
Not even counting the paradox of allowing military reinforcements to be allowed free passage and use of your facilities whilst declaring yourself ‘neutral’, the furthest that Ireland has gone towards checking that none of these military transports nor contractors are shipping untried people for torture in third-party states (the practice of extra-judicial kidnapping and transportation to a country where torture is used – euphemistically referred to as ‘extraordinary rendition’) is to seek ‘assurances’ from the administration in Washington.

Given the track record of the current Washington administration in abusing human rights and eroding civil liberties (so hard fought for by the founding fathers and many American citizens before and since) to suit their purpose in the case for confrontation with perceived enemies in any corner of the world, Ireland is well within its rights to demand inspection of any aircraft landing or using Irish ground facilities.
According to the current Irish government, they are satisfied with the ‘assurances’ that they have received that US planes are not engaged in renditions through Shannon. A nod and a wink could not be more explicit explanation of what is happening here.

This isn’t just for hanging on the current Irish government – many of the large opposition parties make no promises to change the situation with regard to the use of Shannon. However, a few small parties do oppose and would work to remove use of Shannon by the US military and their contractors for these odious and barbaric purposes.

It is now up to the electorate in Ireland. Is their opposition to the occupation in Iraq and the terrible brutality and inhumanity that has sprung up in the name of the ‘war on terror’ strong enough that they might be prepared to do something concrete about it in their own country, using their own votes?

As the late, great Johnny Cash once sang – “I stopped outside a church house, where the citizens like to sit. They say they want the kingdom, but they don’t want God in it”.

We shall see.

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