Dangerous tactics in kidnap case

THE very quick and safe release of reporter Rory Carroll in Iraq is to be welcomed. However, as in all such incidents, questions should be asked concerning any proposed methods that might have been used to gain his release.

In particular, remarks injudiciously made by Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, within about an hour of Rory’s release, give cause for concern.

The minister confirmed that the Government had been about to send a special team, including two army officers (possibly members of the Ranger Wing), to Iraq.

Their purpose, he said, was to be on the ground in Iraq in case “unpalatable decisions, including military intervention, needed to be made”. Regardless of the meaning behind this statement, it should never have been made in public. Presumably, the Irish Army was not being asked to prepare for direct military intervention in Iraq.

The probable implications of the minister’s statement seem to be that US military forces could have been involved in an assault on any possible kidnap location, and that the Government, by the presence of Irish army advisers on the ground, would be approving such military action. In such operations in the past, many innocent people have been killed.

The town of Fallujah has gone down in history along with other places such as Guernica and Srebrenica.

Is Ireland now joining, or supporting, other western states in pre-emptive military actions, however tentative? What implication has this decision for other journalists who may be kidnapped in the future? We seem to have learned all the wrong lessons from the kidnapping and killing of Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan. Should an Irish life take priority over the lives of innocent foreigners?

Edward Horgan

International Secretary

Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance

Newtown

Castletroy

Limerick

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