Kenny refuses to say no on US military flights26/10/2006 - 16:58:15
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny today refused to clearly state if he would block US military planes from using Shannon Airport if elected taoiseach.
The prospective government leader was challenged about his position on military co-operation with the US and Britain at the National Forum on Europe at Dublin Castle.
Outlining his party’s vision for Europe, he said Ireland was not neutral but “merely unaligned”, and called for an open debate about the issue.
Roger Cole, chairman of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, a special observer at the talks, told the meeting of politicians and diplomats he completely agreed with Mr Kenny on the point.
“Ireland is not neutral,” said Mr Cole. “There are no US planes bringing American troops to bomb the Iraqis going through Zurich airport. Switzerland is neutral.
“This country is an integral part of the British-US military structure,” he claimed.
He asked Mr Kenny if he would put an end to the use of Shannon by US troops in the event of being elected as taoiseach.
The Fine Gael leader said his party had supported the use of Shannon during the first Gulf War but voted against it, in the Dáil, during the Iraq invasion of 2003 because there was no second UN resolution passed.
Pressed afterwards on whether he would block the use of the airport if in power, he told reporters each case had to be assessed in light of the particular circumstances of the day.
“I believe in the defence of the United Nations as being an international arbitrator for peace and justice. In this case (the 2003 invasion) there wasn’t clarity of UN resolution and Fine Gael voted against that,” he said.
“And I made the point that, while we have very strong social, economic, political and friendship ties with the United States, friends do differ on serious issues.”
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