Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (57)

Joe Costello


186 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Government’s views on the statement by the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, that the war in Iraq was illegal; if the consequences of such for its provision of facilities at Shannon for military aircraft participating in an illegal war had been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25287/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Secretary General Annan's statement was an important contribution to the debate on whether there was an adequate legal base to authorise the coalition invasion of Iraq. The Taoiseach, in his statement to the Dáil on 20 March 2003, acknowledged that there was no clear legal consensus on whether there was a mandate for the use of force against Iraq. He acknowledged that the arguments put forward by the coalition asserting the existence of a mandate were supported by a number of countries which were not participating in the military action. However, he made clear that Ireland could not participate in the military campaign without an explicit, further Security Council mandate.

The Government's decision to continue to make landing and overflight facilities available to the United States was made on the basis that provision of such facilities was a long-standing practice which had been ongoing for over 50 years, a period which saw various conflicts involving the US, some of which did not have UN sanction. The Government also noted that the US is a country to which we are closely bound by personal, historical and economic ties. At the end of the debate in question the Dáil voted to approve the Government's position on the matter.

US forces currently serving in Iraq are part of the multi-national force operating at the request of the interim Iraqi government. The presence of the multi-national force in Iraq was authorised by the UN Security Council in resolution 1511 of 16 October 2003. This authorisation has been reaffirmed in resolution 1546 of 8 June 2004. The legality of the presence of US forces in Iraq is, therefore, not in question.