Other Questions - Foreign Conflicts

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 728 No. 3

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  23.  Deputy Michael McGrath  Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   his views on whether the response by the international community to the Libyan crisis is sufficient in view of the alleged scale of the atrocities that are happening there. [5347/11]

  42.  Deputy Finian McGrath  Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   the position regarding the crisis in Libya. [5002/11]

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 42 together.

The response of the international community to the Libyan crisis has been swift, vigorous and clear. The United Nations Security Council reacted with unprecedented swiftness in adopting Resolution 1970 on 26 February, which implemented an immediate arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban against Gadaffi and members of his family and regime. The Security Council also referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to initiate an investigation in light of the clear evidence of the widespread and systematic attacks launched by the regime against the Libyan population. The UN General Assembly also moved to suspend Libya from its membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

Subsequently, the UN adopted Security Council Resolution 1973 on 17 March, which demanded an immediate and complete ceasefire, authorised all necessary measures to protect civilians and established a no-fly zone over Libya. Resolution 1973 further strengthens the arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban provided for under Resolution 1970.

I welcome the adoption of Resolution 1973, which is clearly intended to halt the violence being waged by the Gadaffi regime on the Libyan people and ensure civilian protection. I have urged that any military action taken in pursuit of Resolution 1973 should be in full conformity with its terms, proportionate and targeted and should avoid civilian casualties.

The response of the EU to the Libyan crisis has been equally firm and decisive. The European Council meeting on 11 March made clear that Gadaffi must relinquish power and stand aside to enable an orderly transition to democracy in Libya, in conformity with the legitimate demands of the Libyan people. Further conclusions underlying the EU’s determination to support the implementation of Resolution 1973 were also agreed by the Foreign Affairs Council yesterday. The full range of sanctions imposed in Resolutions 1970 and 1973 have already been implemented at EU and national level, along with additional restrictive measures aimed at cutting off the flow of funds and misappropriated proceeds to the Gadaffi regime. Further restrictive measures, targeting Libyan oil and gas revenues and ensuring they do not end up in the hands of the regime, are already under consideration within the Council.

[163]Regional support in response to events in Libya has been critical, with the Arab League, African Union and Gulf Co-operation Council among others all forcefully condemning the Gadaffi regime for its actions and urging concerted international efforts to address the situation, including the imposition of a no-fly zone. The closest co-operation with the region must continue to be urgently pursued in the period ahead.

The international community has reacted swiftly to the humanitarian situation in Libya. Significant efforts have been undertaken to help those stranded at border areas, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, and the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, working with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities to ensure the migrants receive basic assistance. The contribution of the latter countries has been crucial and is particularly praiseworthy in light of the recent dramatic events in both countries.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  I thank the Tánaiste for his response. Does UN Security Council Resolution 1973 provide sufficient authority for a potential US peacekeeping mission? If a further resolution needs to be passed by the Security Council to give that authority, has the Government given any consideration to Ireland’s participation in such a mission in Libya?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  UN Resolution 1973 does not provide for the presence of any overseas troops in Libya. Were there to be such a mission, it is my understanding that a further resolution of the UN Security Council would be required.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  In the event of such a resolution being passed, what would be the Government’s attitude?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We would need to adopt and express a view on the terms of such a resolution before its passing. We cannot be expected to adopt a position on a resolution that has not been tabled or passed. It is a matter we would consider at the time if it arose.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  I hope we all agree that we should extend the maximum support and solidarity to the people of Libya who are fighting for democracy against Gadaffi’s ruthless regime and to the wider democratic movements that have erupted across the Middle East and are fighting against similarly obnoxious regimes.

Should we not be seriously questioning the motives and actions of those who are launching a military campaign against Libya? I say “motives” because, for the most part, the United States of America and the large European powers were slow in giving full support to the democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt, maintained relations with the Mubarak and Ben Ali dictatorships right up to the end and refused to support the overthrow of those regimes until that had been effected by the people of those countries, only then deciding to wade in behind the democratic movements. A democratic movement under way in Bahrain is being dealt with ruthlessly by that country with the support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates——

Acting Chairman (Deputy Joanna Tuffy): Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I am afraid the Deputy is moving beyond the remit of the questions.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  I am questioning the motives of those who are now intervening in Libya. Does the Tánaiste not have deep concerns about the motivations behind this military action, given the record of the United States and the large European powers in their response to the other democratic movements in the region?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Joanna Tuffy): Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  The Deputy’s time has expired.

[164]Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Are there not significant double standards to which we must point? Should we not question whether the military action is intended, as the Tánaiste stated, to halt the violence against a civilian population or whether it is a cynical calculation by those military powers as to how they can contain the democratic revolutions in the region?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Joanna Tuffy): Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  The Deputy’s time is up. Allow the Tánaiste to reply briefly.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I can only respond to what is fact. As a country, we support the efforts of those who have been seeking to establish democracy in Egypt, Tunisia and, more recently, Libya. It was hoped that the transition to democracy in Libya would proceed peacefully and that the regime would respond to the Libyan people’s demands for change. However, that did not occur. The regime responded to its civilian population viciously. The international community needed to respond to that action, a response that came through the UN. Many of us have often been critical of the slowness of the UN in responding to such situations, but the UN has responded and passed a resolution aimed at protecting the civilian population. Ireland welcomes the passage of that resolution and supports its implementation.

I have made clear our support for the implementation of that resolution is on the basis that it is proportionate, targeted and avoids civilian casualties. I can only answer for the position of the Irish Government and, in so far as we participate in collective decision-making with the EU on these matters, for the EU position. The positions and motivation of other governments is a matter for them.


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