The following letter has been published in the Irish Times on 9th May 2008. This is a significant development, because the Gardai and the Irish Government authorities have clearly failed to carry out their duties towards prevention of the crimes of torture at Shannon airport. This however does not relieve the citizens of Ireland of their responsibilty to prevent torture. It is the moral and legal duty of all Irish citizens to take 'all neccessary means' to prevent the possible continuing use of Shannon airport by the CIA and the US military for the purpose of transporting prisoners for torture.A CHANCE TO END 'RENDITION' FLIGHTS
Madam, - Last month the Republic of Ireland witnessed the resignation of Bertie Ahern as the leader of Fianna Fáil. He has been succeeded by a new party leader and Taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
We believe this transfer of political power presents the Government with a significant opportunity to review its policy on the use of Irish airports by US aircraft suspected of involvement in illegal kidnappings, the so-called "extraordinary renditions".
Aircraft landing at Irish airports, such as Shannon, are suspected of regularly travelling to and from countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, where torture is used. Such aircraft, usually owned by commercial companies but actually operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are also suspected of heading for countries in Eastern Europe, where secret internment camps exist.
However, since the inception of the seemingly endless and calamitous "war on terror", the Government has merely accepted "diplomatic assurances" from the US administration that Irish airports are not being used as stop-over points for aircraft carrying kidnapped individuals. Thus, requests by peace activists for the Garda Síochána to search suspected aircraft have been refused. We believe this situation is no longer politically or morally tolerable.
For example, in April the Council of Europe's rapporteur on secret detentions, Dick Marty, castigated what he referred to as the "hypocrisy" of European governments in continuing to deny their involvement in secret detentions or illegal renditions.
Speaking at a Brussels conference about reporting on torture, Mr Marty asserted: "The United States made a choice to fight the war on terror using illegal means, but they at least made it openly and defend it. European governments, on the other hand, have been entirely hypocritical since their complicity has been clandestine. Even now, they do not have the courage to declare their involvement, unless forced to do so."
Furthermore, we agree with Mr Marty that governments "must also stop hiding behind the hypocrisy of diplomatic assurances. They are not worth the paper they are written on, and it is to be complicit in torture to accept them."
We, the undersigned - comprising diverse groups and individuals living and working in the west of Ireland, elsewhere in the State, and in other jurisdictions - have now decided to form a People's Inspection Team.
From today we are, therefore, beginning to recruit active lay inspectors to aid the Irish Government and the Garda in undertaking thorough and meaningful inspections of all aircraft suspected of involvement in "extraordinary renditions" landing at Shannon. - Yours, etc,
RHUHEL AHMED (Former detainee, Guantanamo prison facility); JOHN ARDEN (Playwright fellow of the World Society of Literature, Galway); TONY BENN (Former Labour MP, London); RONAN BENNETT (Author, London); RICHARD BOYD BARRETT (Chairperson of Irish Anti-War Movement); Prof NOAM CHOMSKY (Academic and author, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA); SARAH CLANCY (Galway One World Centre); Rev Canon PATRICK COMERFORD (President of Irish CND); CATHERINE CONNOLLY (City councillor, Galway); Dr JOHN CUNNINGHAM, (Historian, National University of Ireland, Galway); MARGARETTA D'ARCY (Member of Aosdána, Galway); MARY DEMPSEY (Artist, Galway); Dr SABER ELSAFTY (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Ireland); NIALL FARRELL (Galway Alliance against War); DENNIS J. HALLIDAY (Former UN Assistant Secretary-General); BRIAN HANNEY (Teacher, Galway) EDWARD HORGAN (Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance); PAUL MICHAEL GARRETT (Siptu Shop Steward, National University of Ireland, Galway); JIMMY KELLY (Regional Secretary, Unite); FRANK KEOGHAN (People's Movement); MARILYN LAROSA (Galway); KEN LOACH (Film director, London); DONAL LUNNY (Musician, Okinawa, Japan); PATRICIA McKENNA (Green Party); DETTE McLOUGHLIN (Social Workers' Party, Galway); PHELIM MURNION (Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology); JOE MURRAY (Afri: Action from Ireland); Mgr RAYMOND MURRAY (Armagh); TREASA NÍ CHEANNABHÁIN (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign); SEOSAMH Ó CUAIG (County Councillor, Galway); LAURENT PARDON (Galway); Prof WILLIAM A. SCHABAS (Director, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway).