Seanad debates

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Paul GavanPaul Gavan (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Last Monday evening, I tuned into Channel 4 News to get the latest news about the ongoing soap opera that is Brexit but it was not the lead item. In fact, the lead item was from Libya, which involved tremendous work done by an Irish journalist called Sally Hayden. She has been crucial in exposing the horrific torture and human rights abuses going on in Libya. I recommend that people watch the film, which can be downloaded from "Channel 4 News".

The film actually showed Eritreans being tortured, having hot molten plastic put on their backs, and having concrete blocks placed on their backs while they lay in chains on the floor screaming in pain. The reason this is happening is because the pirates who have taken these guys, girls, women and children extort large sums of money from the families in Eritrea. The horrible truth is that our Government is complicit in this happening because, through the permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, rather than rescue migrants and bring them to safe havens, now the PESCO forces, including our Naval Service, hand them over to the Libyan coastguard, which is the equivalent of handing these people over to pirates. The Libyan authorities, in turn, sell them as human commodities to people traffickers and at that point the torture, degradation, rape and mutilation is an everyday occurrence. This has all been filmed and it was all shown on "Channel 4 News" on Monday night.

Sinn Féin has been consistent in opposing the membership of PESCO by our naval forces. It gives me no pleasure to say that this situation shows how right we were. The most shameless disregard for human rights across the world is happening in the Mediterranean and, unfortunately, our Naval Service is part of it. We pay large sums of money to Libya to take care of the problems so that we do not have to see these people or worry about them and, in turn, they are sold, tortured, mutilated and killed.

I ask for a debate on the matter, Cathaoirleach, as a matter of urgency. It is time for people to stop their silence. Surely we should all be able to speak out against what is happening in Libya and against the role of our Naval Service in allowing it to happen.


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