Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (103)

Olwyn Enright


236 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he raised, since his appointment, any matters of concern with his American counterpart, in particular the holding of persons at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25223/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have not had the opportunity to meet the Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell. I have, however, spoken to him briefly when he telephoned to congratulate me on my appointment and he also has written to me expressing his desire to work with me to strengthen the excellent bilateral ties between Ireland and the United States. The Secretary of State, in his letter, reiterated the strong support of the United States for the peace process in Northern Ireland. I share the Secretary of State's wish to strengthen further Irish-US relations not only in our mutual bilateral interest but also to enable us to address the many global challenges common to all of humanity. Our brief exchanges to date have not afforded me the opportunity for discussion of substantive issues or concerns but I look forward to meeting the Secretary of State in the period ahead.

With regard to holding persons at Guantanamo Bay, as the Deputy is aware, the Government's position is that these detainees should be treated in accordance with the provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law. These concerns were conveyed to the US Embassy in Dublin by my Department and were raised by the Taoiseach when he met President Bush in Washington on 17 March 2004. In all contacts with the US authorities on this issue we have been assured that they are aware of their obligations under international law.