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We need to ensure a referendum on neutrality is an election issue

Over three years ago I submitted a petition to the The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on behalf of civil society NGO Shannonwatch, on the issue of US military and CIA use of Shannon airport. The committee issued its final report on St Bridget’s day 2016.

The committee, and its chairperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, are to be complimented for doing a reasonably comprehensive investigation into this petition.

However, given that the committee included members from FG, Labour, and Fianna Fáil parties, all complicit in the problems arising from US military and CIA use of Shannon since 2001, it is not surprising that the final report does not fully reflect the evidence and information presented to it by Shannonwatch and others, and does not comment at all on the serious human rights abuses, including hundreds of thousands of unjustified deaths that were facilitated by US military use of Shannon.

The most significant part of the committee’s findings is the following recommendation: “The Joint committee recommends that the Dáil and Seanad debate the matter with a view to the holding of a referendum so that the will of the people can be determined.”

The “matter” to be debated and hopefully enshrined in Bunreacht na hÉireann is Irish neutrality. It is clear that our politicians cannot be trusted with the responsibility of Irish neutrality being only a matter of Government policy.

While the proceedings of this committee did provide a small element of accountability in terms of the State’s role in crimes against humanity, in the final analysis, the duty of holding our politicians to account rests with citizens.

We as citizens have a duty to act on this in the forthcoming election.

Edward Horgan





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