Two detainees released from Guantanamo Bay have arrived in Ireland to set up a new home, it was confirmed today.
The unidentified pair from Uzbekistan landed in Dublin yesterday evening and will enter a resettlement programme.
A third detainee held at the US military prison, Yemeni Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, was returned to his home county.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the two detainees should be given time and space to rebuild their lives.
“The resettlement of two detainees from Guantanamo Bay underscores Ireland’s commitment, acting in common with our EU partners, to assist in bringing about the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre,” said Mr Ahern.
“Ireland was one of the first countries in Europe to call for the closure of the detention centre.
“The resettlement of the two individuals is a humanitarian gesture.
“They should be allowed time and space to rebuild their lives.
“Ireland is a welcoming country and we are pleased to play our part with President Obama in assisting in the closing of this centre.”
The Government previously said it was looking at taking in two Uzbek prisoners as the US feared detainees might be persecuted if sent back to their home countries.
The pair had been cleared by the US authorities for release from Guantanamo Bay as they were no longer considered by the US authorities to pose a security threat – but are not in a position to be sent home.
A team from the Department of Justice is currently assisting the men in a resettlement programme.
Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was created by former President George W. Bush after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 as a landing spot for suspected al Qaida, Taliban and foreign fighters captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
But with more than 220 detainees at the site, plans by President Barack Obama to close the controversial facility by January are running into legal and logistical hurdles.
On Saturday, the US Justice Department announced the transfer of three detainees to the governments of Yemen and Ireland.
“The United States has co-ordinated with the governments of each of these nations to ensure the transfers take place under appropriate security measures and will continue to consult with these governments regarding these detainees,” it said in a statement.
The news was welcomed by Amnesty International Ireland..
“Today the Irish Government has brought us one step closer to shutting down Guantanamo Bay,” said Amnesty International Ireland Programmes Director Noeleen Hartigan.