26 January 2006

SF calls for emergency meeting of European Council of Ministers to discuss extraordinary renditions

Sinn Féin

Published: 25 January, 2006

Speaking during Statements on the European Council in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, called on the Government "to demand an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers to discuss the issue of 'extraordinary renditions' including the role undertaken by each Member State in connection with this illegal practice." Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his call the day after members states of the Union came in for sharp criticism from the Council of Europe over the issue.

The Dublin South Central TD said, "Secrecy facilitates abuse - be it abuse of the trust of an electorate or more fundamentally of basic human rights. The secret agreement between this state and the US concerning security measures for the protection of classified military information demonstrates this point all too well. I am calling on this government to demand an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers to discuss the issue of 'extraordinary renditions' including the role undertaken by each Member State in connection with this illegal practice. And to finalise a binding agreement committing the Member State's to co-operate fully with all investigations into the matter and to take every measure possible to stop the practice of 'extraordinary rendition'. In the interests of transparency and accountability discussions at this meeting should be on the public record - open for all to see." ENDS

Full text of statement by Aengus Ó Snodaigh on European Council follows:-

Sinn Féin welcomes some of the outcomes of the negotiations on the Financial Perspectives for 2007 -- 2013. In particular we welcome the inclusion in the summit agreement of 200 million euro funding for the PEACE III programme. Sinn Féin, and in particular my colleague Bairbre de Brun MEP, worked hard to ensure that this funding would be secured. The funding commitment recognizes the valuable work conducted by community organizations in terms of peace building, tackling discrimination and promoting national reconciliation. The challenge is now to ensure that this funding is directed towards the areas of real need.

We are also relieved that the CAP will remain unaltered until 2013, provided the government is willing to use its veto to ensure this. But on the question of rural development Sinn Féin remains of the opinion that the issue is conceptualized too narrowly at the EU level. We believe budget discussions would benefit from employing a broader understanding of the concept of rural development to fully encompass issues such as rural regeneration to replace declining agriculture.

I would also like to express our disappointment with regard to the overarching focus of the financial perspectives. We believe that an opportunity has been missed whereby a commitment to emphasise spending on social protections and the environment could have been but was not achieved. Thereby, reaffirming our belief that the social inclusion aspect and environmental considerations of the Lisbon Agenda amount to little more than window dressing.

An issue of grave concern to Sinn Fein is the all but complete absence of transparency surrounding the workings of the Council. How are we, the Irish people, to know for sure what government representatives actually prioritise in negotiations given the current conditions of secrecy? Just this week a report by the EU's own Ombudsman was highly critical of the Council's opaqueness. Is addressing this undemocratic reality a priority issue for the government? If so, in the absence of transparency, how are we to know for sure?

Secrecy facilitates abuse be it abuse of the trust of an electorate or more fundamentally of basic human rights. The secret agreement between this state and the US concerning security measures for the protection of classified military information demonstrates this point all too well. I am calling on this government to demand an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers to discuss the issue of 'extraordinary renditions' including the role undertaken by each Member State in connection with this illegal practice. And to finalise a binding agreement committing the Member State's to co-operate fully with all investigations into the matter and to take every measure possible to stop the practice of 'extraordinary rendition'. In the interests of transparency and accountability discussions at this meeting should be on the public record - open for all to see.

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