Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Lynn RuaneLynn Ruane (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I second the amendment to the Order of Business. Often when you travel as a politician internationally you can come back feeling a little bit dismayed at the response of some countries to talk of a ceasefire to halt the destruction of a people like we see in Gaza. Even though we can always do more - we need to do more - and that is what this legislation can do, Ireland has a real role in continuing to push the agenda internationally so that the international community acts. The arms embargo is one way of doing that.

We know that Israel received about $3 billion annually in military aid from the United States in the past 50 years. That figure has been adjusted for inflation. Germany is the second largest exporter of arms to Israel. Calls for a halt to the export of arms have come from the highest levels, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU High Representative, yet those who profit from war and the destruction of people have continuously blocked calls for a ceasefire.

In the Irish context, regulations ban the transfer of munitions. Article 5 provides that the Minister for Transport may, by direction, exempt any class of aircraft from any of the provisions of Articles 6 or 7. More than 1,000 such exemptions were granted in 2023 alone. The authors of a 2009 comparative study commissioned by the French ministry of defence highlight that the limited information requested by the Department makes it very hard to properly assess the risk of munitions being carried. It also identifies that attack helicopters were previously transferred from the US to Israel through Ireland. This legislation is another step forward in Ireland setting the standard internationally in terms of what needs to happen to end the bombardment of the people in Gaza.


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