Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Baghdad Bombing Attack Allegations.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

40 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he has investigated allegations that a former Mossad Israeli agent, who is now publishing a book, has alleged that a 707 aerial fuel tanker, used in a 1981 bombing attack on a Baghdad nuclear reactor, had Aer Lingus markings painted on it; if he has discussed the matter with Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the implications of these reports for Aer Lingus as an international carrier.

The allegations referred to by the Deputy have been fully investigated by Aer Lingus who have informed my Department that they are satisfied that there is no substance in the allegations. Aer Lingus have indicated that they had no aircraft on lease in any of the Arab territories or to EI AI — the Israeli airline company — at that time and that there is no evidence to suggest that the aircraft used in the bombing had Aer Lingus markings painted on it.

I am satisfied that these unsubstantiated allegations will have no impact on Aer Lingus as an international carrier.

Is the Minister aware that these allegations were made in a book entitled By Way of Deception in which the author specifically says: “... accompanying them was what looked like an Aer Lingus commercial carrier (the Irish lease their' planes to Arab countries so it would not seem out of place)”? Furthermore is the Minister aware that Aer Lingus stated earlier this month that they would be in contact with EI AI to check the position there in order to ascertain whether such planes had been used? Is the Minister further aware that the chief executive of Aer Lingus was unable to confirm whether 707s from the Aer Lingus fleet were being leased in the region at the time? Is the Minister informing the House that the chief executive of Aer Lingus is now aware that no such aircraft were on lease in the region at that time?

That is correct; Aer Lingus had no 707s in 1981. Therefore, it would not have been possible for them to have leased any. I am satisfied that there is no evidence in regard to the allegation.

Does the same assurance apply to Boeing 720s?

The Deputy asked about 707s.

Can we take it that no aircraft were leased?

The Deputy can take it that I have no evidence, nor have Aer Lingus or anybody else that I can track down, that there was any such incident.

I am calling Question No. 41.