Thursday, 8 February 2024
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
133. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if his Department will engage with the family of the person in Ireland in order to ensure safe passage out of Gaza. [5938/24]
Since the start of this crisis, my Department has worked with the relevant authorities to facilitate the exit from Gaza of those Irish citizens, and accompanying dependents, who have expressed a wish to leave. We continue to advocate with the authorities in relation to those Irish citizens and dependents who have not yet been permitted to leave.
The authorities have made clear that the focus for facilitated departures from Gaza is for foreign and dual nationals, and immediate dependents accompanying them.
In line with the Department’s Consular Assistance Charter, the remit of my Department is to provide consular assistance to Irish citizens abroad. This has been our focus since the crisis began.
The population of Gaza is 2.3 million people. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and many of those living in Gaza are seeking to leave. In recent weeks, my Department has received many enquiries regarding the situation of individuals, including people with ties to Ireland or already holding a visa for Ireland.
Any decision on clearance for these individuals to leave Gaza will be made by the relevant local authorities. Holders of valid Irish visas or residence permits who receive clearance to exit Gaza from the local authorities may make arrangements to travel to Ireland.
My Department has made contact with the family in Ireland of the person who's details you have supplied. Let me assure you, Deputy, that we are giving very close consideration to these matters, given the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
134. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason a US military aircraft (details supplied) was permitted to land and refuel at Shannon airport on 1 February 2024; to clarify the steps that were taken to ensure that this aircraft was not involved in US military operations in support of the Israeli attacks in Gaza; to clarify what steps were taken to check what this aircraft was delivering to Ramstein air base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5992/24]
135. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason a US military aircraft (details supplied) was permitted to land and refuel at Shannon airport on 1 February 2024; to clarify the steps that were taken to ensure that this aircraft was not involved in US military operations in support of the Israeli attacks in Gaza; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5993/24]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 135 together.
Under the terms of the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order, 1952, all foreign military aircraft wishing to overfly, or land in, the State require diplomatic clearance from the Minister for Foreign Affairs.Diplomatic clearance is subject to strict conditions, including that the aircraft is unarmed; that it carries no arms, ammunition or explosives; that it does not engage in intelligence gathering; and that the flight in question does not form part of a military exercise or operation.
This policy is well known and is fully understood by the United States and other international partners, and is done in compliance with Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality.
It is the longstanding policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs not to disclose details relating to the specifics of diplomatic clearance requests, as such information is provided by Embassies in the expectation of the maintenance of confidentiality.
With regard to the transit of US military aircraft through Shannon and other Irish airports, the Department of Foreign Affairs publishes statistics in relation to overflights and landings of foreign military and state aircraft on the Department’s website.
With respect to these landings, I am satisfied that the correct diplomatic clearance procedures for foreign military landings were followed in full and that all the above conditions were fully met.