The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed he is seeking clarification from the US Government whether any evidence of Shannon Airport being used by the CIA for extraordinary rendition was uncovered in a recent U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Minister Charlie Flanagan had been asked by Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe whether he was aware of the report and revelations about CIA torture of detainees.
Deputy Crowe also asked the minister about his views on assurances from the US Government that no prisoners were transported through Irish territory and whether gardaí will now search US military planes that land at Shannon.
The Minister has said: “The Programme for Government states that the Government will enforce the prohibition of the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law. Ireland does not tolerate and will not tolerate the use of our airspace or airports for any illegal purpose, including torture, rendition or the unauthorised detention of any individual.”
“It has been made clear by the current and previous Governments that such activity would be considered completely unacceptable and illegal. The Government has, over the years, responded to allegations about rendition flights using Shannon Airport. Ireland sought, and received, categorical assurances from the US Government that no prisoner had been, or would be, transferred through Irish territory without the express permission of the Irish authorities, which it was made clear, would not be forthcoming,” the Minister added.
Minister Flanagan has also welcomed the recent publication of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary report on its investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation programme.
The Minister said: “The report does not identify specific countries where interrogation or detention took place, nor countries through which prisoners were transferred. A number of complaints concerning alleged unlawful activity at Shannon Airport have been investigated by An Garda Síochána. However, no evidence of rendition was disclosed in any of the investigations.”
Minister Flanagan has now told Deputy Seán Crowe however: “I have instructed my officials to approach the US authorities to enquire whether this report found any evidence or drew any conclusions in relation to the use of Irish airspace or Irish airports in connection with the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Programme.”
The Minister also reiterated that An Garda have powers to search civilian aircraft if they reasonably suspect that an offence is being committed.
He said however: “Foreign military aircraft are subject to sovereign immunity, a longstanding principle of international law which applies automatically. In line with the doctrine of sovereign immunity, a State may not exercise its jurisdiction in respect of another State or its property, including State or military aircraft.”