Last night Independent 4 Change TD Clare Daly, Dr John Lannon, of Shannonwatch, and Karen Devine, of the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University, spoke on Tonight with Vincent Browne.
They discussed the Turkey-EU refugee deal, the use of Shannon Airport by the US military, and the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – the countries from which most of the refugees travelled to Europe last year.
Mr Browne read out sections from an email written by Hilary Clinton and published by Wikileaks – prompting Wikileaks to tweet the email during the show, above.
From the discussion:
Clare Daly: “[EU-Turkey deal] It’s effectively an agreement to facilitate mass expulsions of people. I mean we’ve had the very unusual situation whereby, internationally now, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – all of the organisations that deal with refugees have all come out, all of the NGOs, and been absolutely definitive that this is a breach in international law. We’re denying people their right to seek asylum because what’s being done is they’re basically being forced – Turkey will force them back, Turkey in return are being facilitated with financial inducements, with a greater access to EU membership and so on, when there’s very serious questions to be asked about the regime in Turkey.”
Vincent Browne: “They’re navigating because there’s too many muslims in Turkey and EU doesn’t want muslims and the former Pope Ratzinger, that fellah, he gave, remember his speech he gave about the threat of muslims to Europe.”
Daly: “There are two points, there are 2.7million refugees in Turkey, in appalling conditions, some held in detention centres, there’s been examples of Turkish guards, beating people back, imprisoning people, shooting people on a regular basis and the conditions are not in compliance with the safe passages and right to asylum that people have under international law and one of the points being made, by the NGOs, is the fact that Greece doesn’t have the staff available to process in a lawful manner the asylum application of individuals. So, essentially, what’s being done, has been to undermine the European context the international right to asylum for refugees and, as you said, they’re doing that against the backdrop that the EU itself has been responsible for facilitating the very circumstances that made these people refugees by the military intervention in their countries.”
Karen Devine: “[In] academic literature, they talk about something called Fortress Europe and Fortress Europe is a name given to an idea that the EU wants to close its borders effectively to economic migrants or asylum seekers. The asylum seekers are very different from economic migrants. They’re not looking for a better job, a better quality of life, they’re looking to survive, they’re fleeing a war situation. And I suppose one of the problems here, when you look at the EU, how it functions, they can afford a budget of €50million a year for the CAP, they can come up with policies in environment, in transport, a lot of areas where it costs money. What they need to do is to pay serious attention and to adequately resource what has been happening over the last 3/5 years in the Middle East and they always knew that this problem was going to occur but they have not put in any policies to deal with it.”
Later – after a clip of acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking in the Dáil about the EU-Turkey deal
Browne: “The fact of the matter is that there’s a cap of about 72,000 on refugees coming in to Europe from now on and this compares to the million who went to Germany alone in 2015. So this is a massive change in Europe’s willingness to accommodate refugees from war that Europe had a significant part in fermenting and, of course, Ireland did to. And John you’re familiar with Ireland’s role in that because of the use of Shannon and facilitating American aircraft, military aircraft, going through there.”
John Lannon: “Absolutely, I mean it’s interesting there, first of all, to hear the language that Enda Kenny is using. He’s talking about irregular migrants, he’s talking about people smugglers, he’s talking about managing the flow. I mean what he doesn’t mention is that what in effect we’ve got millions of ordinary men, women and children that are fleeing from war with absolutely nothing because they don’t have time to take anything, bombs are being rained down upon them and, as you say, we’ve been part of that. You mentioned Ireland’s contribution.
Well Ireland’s contribution has, as you say, to give Shannon Airport over to the US military so that they could invade and they could occupy the countries from which the refugees are now coming. I’m talking about Iraq, Afghanistan, we’ve had Libya, now we have Syria. We’ve also got bombs raining down on Yemen now, killing hundreds of people, we don’t heard about that in the news. So, over the last 15 years, almost 3 million armed US soldiers have come through Shannon Airport. We claim to be a neutral country, we claim to respect conventions like the Hague Convention 1907, which says belligerants are not allowed to cross neutral territories on their way to war but we’re opening up our airport, a civilian airport, to them. We’ve got hundreds of military planes landing and taking off from the airport, we don’t know what’s in those planes. We’ve got, as I said, millions of armed soldiers coming through, we’ve got rendition planes, we’ve had coming through for years as well. We’ve got no oversight whatsoever of any of this.”
Browne: “And this is quite a change from the way it used to be. People say this was going on for years – no it wasn’t.”
Lannon: “It wasn’t, no.”
Browne: “We wouldn’t allow even overflights of military aircraft over Ireland. And there was an interesting case. This was quite some time ago where a helicopter, a British Army helicopter that was used to help reduce people who got into difficulties of the Donegal coast sought permission to land on a abandoned rock off Donegal, but within Irish territorial waters, and the Government of the day refused to allow the helicopter to land there because of our neutrality, remember that?”
Daly: “Now we have a situation where aircraft are landing at Shannon almost twice daily. Some of the information sought and received by Shannonwatch last year, under Freedom of Information, shows the amount of permits sought for munitions to be transported, including materials that could go to form cluster bombs which we believe are being used in Yemen, US air refuellers which, we know, are refuelling the Saudis who, only a week ago, massacred over 100 people yet again. Did they come through or use Shannon, we don’t know because we allow them carte blanche to do whatever they want.”
Browne: “People might wonder what this has got to do with Syria. I came across a Wikileaks email written by Hilary Clinton in 2002 when she was Secretary of State in America. We can’t show you this properly, we can show you some of it on the screen but you won’t be able to read it I think.
But, what she’s saying is what Israel military really worries about, but cannot talk about, is losing its nuclear monopoly and it’s saying, she goes on to say, ‘It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Al Assad, in Syria, that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israeli security’ and she goes on to say that, ‘it is the combination of Iran’s strategic alliance with Syria and the steady progress in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program that has led Israeli leaders to contemplate a surprise attack’ and then she says, ‘In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria’ which was to ferment or to assist in the war that dissident groups in Syria were waging against the Assad regime. And the American forces did not directly intervene there but they gave all military help and assistance, everything possible, to keep the war going. And no doubt, a lot of that military assistance came through Shannon.”
Watch back in full here