A report by the Council of Europe has found Ireland guilty of collusion with the CIA in the illegal transfer of prisoners to secret interrogation centres.
Shannon airport in the west of Ireland is currently used as a transit centre for the US war on Iraq, a policy which contravenes the long-held concept of Irish neutrality and is opposed by the Irish people. The Dublin government has said it believes US claims that no “extraordinary rendition” flights had flown through the airport.
The Council of Europe’s damning 67-page report, after a seven-month inquiry, said the CIA ran a “global spider’s web” of covert flights to take suspects to secret prisons all over the world for interrogation.
Demands are now being made for foreign minister Dermot Ahern to resign after Ireland’s role in the ‘torture flights’ controversy was confirmed by the CE investigation.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberites said the report showed Ireland had “colluded in a global spider’s web of US detentions and transfers”.
Amnesty International said the search for the truth about rendition practice should not end with the report.
However, the Dublin government rubbished the report. Dermot Ahern said the Council of Europe had said nothing to contradict the assurances he had received from Washington.
“There is nothing new in the Council of Europe report to question or undermine the assurances we have received from US authorities on the use of Shannon airport,” said a spokesperson for the minister.
“There is absolutely no question of Ireland colluding in the stopover of alleged rendition flights. The US authorities has been made well aware of this.”
The Minister suggested individuals contact gardai if they have information on the issue.
Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, Michael D Higgins, pointed out the Minister was not in a position to say whether it had happened because the flights had not been investigated.
“He does not inspect any plane, and he does not know what went through Shannon.”
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brun called for a “full and thorough investigation” into Ireland’s role in the practice.
“The Council of Europe report findings will cause great concern in Ireland, where there has been widespread discussion of the allegations,” said Ms de Brun from Strasbourg.
“The Irish state is inextricably linked with the practice of rendition flights, where people are illegally imprisoned and moved to torture centres in third countries.”
She said it remained unclear to what extent Ireland is implicated in this practice but she called on the government to “come clean”.