Martin signals Guantanamo detainees will be accepted

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has given a strong signal Ireland will consider accepting detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the US detention facility in Cuba.

While stressing it would ultimately be a decision for the cabinet, and that potential refugees would have to be carefully screened, Mr Martin said there was a “logical follow-through” from Ireland’s call for the facility to be closed.

“I haven’t brought this to Government yet, but there would be concerns [about some of the detainees], and I think we’d have to go through them on a case-by-case basis, look at the background of individuals and so on,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“But, you know, if we’re against the torture and the nature of what went on at Guantanamo, and there are concerns in terms of international human rights and humanitarian law, there’s a logical follow-through on that.”

Mr Martin stressed, however, that Ireland would consider accepting only those detainees with no terrorist links.

“We clearly wouldn’t be interested in taking anyone who has any hint of a terrorist background at all. That would be out of the question,” he said.

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close Guantanamo after taking office next month and the US state department has already contacted numerous countries seeking their assistance in resettling the detainees.

Guantanamo was opened in 2002 as part of the US “war on terror”, at one point housing over 750 prisoners, who were held without trial and classed as “unlawful enemy combatants”.

While a small number eventually went to military trial, hundreds were released or handed over to their national governments, and circa 250 detainees now remain.

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