Written Answers - Human Rights Issues.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 640 No. 1

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  121.  Deputy Willie Penrose  Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he and the Government are in favour of establishing a regime of inspection of such civilian and military traffic in order to among other purposes, ensure Irish compliance with its international human rights and humanitarian law obligations. [25002/07]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Dermot Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I assume that the Deputy is referring to the issue of extraordinary rendition, which has been raised on many occasions in this House. As I have made clear repeatedly, the Government are completely opposed to the practice of the extraordinary rendition of prisoners. Our concerns in relation to this matter have been made clear to the highest levels of the US Government, including by the Taoiseach to President Bush. The Government have received specific assurances from the US authorities, confirmed by Sec[205]retary of State Condoleezza Rice, that such prisoners have not been transferred through Irish territory, nor would they be, without our permission. My most recent meeting with Secretary Rice on 3rd October provided a further opportunity to recall the Government’s complete opposition to extraordinary rendition, and the importance in this regard of the assurances we have received from the US authorities.

As I have also made clear on previous occasions, the Government is satisfied that it is in full compliance with its international obligations in this respect.

I am not aware that there have been any allegations that military aircraft transiting Irish airports have been involved in extraordinary rendition. By virtue of sovereign immunity, and subject to the commonly-accepted practice of nations, military aircraft are not subject to search when they visit Irish airports. In relation to civil aircraft (which is the relevant category in this regard), where the Garda Síochána reasonably suspects that an offence is being committed, statutory powers of entry of aircraft and arrest are available. As I have previously informed the House, the decision to search a particular aircraft, if and when warranted in accordance with the law, would be a matter for the Garda Síochána.

To date, where complaints of alleged unlawful activity concerning the use of Irish airports have been made to the Garda Síochána, Garda investigations have ensued and, where appropriate, files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In all these cases, no further action was found to be warranted, owing to a lack of any evidence of any unlawful activity. Finally, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have confirmed that every support and assistance is being provided to the Garda Síochána To date, where complaints of alleged unlawful activity concerning the use of Irish airports have been made to the Garda Síochána, Garda investigations have ensued and, where appropriate, files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In all these cases, no further action was found to be warranted, owing to a lack of any evidence of any unlawful activity. Finally, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have confirmed that every support and assistance is being provided to the Garda Síochána to ensure Ireland’s compliance with international law in respect of the use of Irish airports.

  122.  Deputy Mary Upton  Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   his views on the right to water as a basic human right in the context of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and related instruments. [24977/07]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Deputy Michael P. Kitt): Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Irish Aid, the Government’s official development programme, recognises adequate water and sanitation both as [206]a fundamental right and as essential for social and economic development. We believe that adequate water and sanitation are prerequisites to the achievement of other basic rights, such as the right to health or to the achievement of equal rights for women and children, who currently bear the bulk of the burden associated with the lack of water and sanitation.

The right to water as a basic human right is not explicit in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Articles 22 and 25 cover social, cultural and economic rights and the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. I believe that access to water and sanitation is a vital component of that standard of living.

The provision of adequate and safe water and sanitation remains a key part of the Government’s aid programme. In 2006, Irish Aid invested approximately €20 million in a wide range of activities in the sector. This work will continue as our programme expands.


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