Questions to minister for Foreign Affairs

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See below two questions to minister for Foreign Affairs regarding the use of Shannon Airport by foreign Military aircraft breaching our neutrality and how diplomatic immunity is being used as an excuse to avoid calling to account those guilty of torture.

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to change existing arrangements between his Department and the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Defence in relation to the monitoring of foreign military aircraft on Irish territory in order to ensure our neutrality is not breached.
– Clare Daly.

REPLY

Under the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, all foreign military aircraft require the permission of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to overfly or land in the State. Requests for permission are considered in consultation with relevant Government Departments and agencies, including the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Defence, and procedures relating to these requests are kept under review.

In cases where permission is granted, this is subject to strict conditions including that aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, and must not engage in intelligence gathering and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations.

I am satisfied that these longstanding arrangements are fully consistent with Ireland’s policies and legal requirements, including our long-established policy of military neutrality.

Question No. 40
Parliamentary Question – Oireachtas

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views in relation to diplomatic immunity and that this may not be invoked as an excuse for torture or complicity with torture.
– Clare Daly.

REPLY
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that provides a framework for diplomatic relations between states. To date, it has been ratified by 190 countries. The Convention provides for privileges and immunities for diplomats and certain other persons working in embassies. These diplomatic immunities are intended to facilitate the conduct of effective diplomatic relations without envoys being fearful of being impeded in their functions. The Vienna Convention stipulates that the purpose of immunities is to ensure the efficient performance of diplomatic functions and not to benefit individuals, and the Convention expressly requires diplomats to respect the laws and regulations of the host State. Consistent with the State’s obligations under the Vienna Convention, my Department works to ensure that the law is upheld and my Department will assist, as appropriate, in any investigation being undertaken by the relevant Irish authorities.

Ireland condemns, at the highest level, all forms of torture and ill-treatment. We strongly believe that the absolute prohibition of torture is one of the cornerstones of the international human rights framework and we recall that all countries are obligated to comply with this unconditional prohibition and that no exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification for torture or any other form of ill-treatment.

Ireland is fully committed to the prevention and eradication of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including through our work in the EU and in other international fora such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Ireland signed the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) on 28 September 1992, and ratified it on 11 April 2002. Ireland also signed and ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 14 March 1988.

Ireland’s commitment to eradicating torture is further demonstrated through our support for the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. Ireland’s contribution to the Voluntary Fund has remained unchanged at €85,000 for the last five years