Ireland: Irish prime minister cornered by Socialist MP over Iraq lies

Joe Higgins TD, Socialist Party stated (28 May 2003):

Below we carry a press statement and a speech made in the Irish parliament by Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI) TD (MP), concerning the recent exposure of the propaganda and lies from Washington and Downing Street over supposed weapons of mass destruction, which were used as a pretext for imperialist invasion of Iraq. It has been revealed further that US Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, said yesterday that disarming Saddam of illegal weapons was nothing more than a "bureaucratic reason" for war (Independent, 30 May 2003), CWI Online

Irish prime minister cornered by Socialist MP over Iraq lies

Rumsfeld doubt about chemical/ biological weapons in Iraq

Taoiseach cannot continue to evade an explanation why he accepted US/British falsehood

The statement by the US Secretary of Defence, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, that very likely there were no chemical/ biological weapons in Iraq and that any that were had been destroyed before the war, is a shocking admission of criminality by the US government.

It means that thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered and their country’s infrastructure blown to bits on foot of a blatant falsehood.

The Taoiseach [Irish prime minister], Tánaiste [deputy prime minister] and entire government must now explain why they accepted this falsehood and on foot of it, supported the criminal invasion of Iraq.

In the Dáil [Irish parliament] this morning, the Taoiseach point blank refused to answer my questions as to whether he would take action on foot of Rumsfeld’s statement. I asked the Taoiseach if he would apologise to the Irish people in the Dáil for having propagated the falsehoods fed to him by his friends in the US Administration in Washington. I asked him if he would call in the US Ambassador to give an explanation. I also asked him if he would call for an emergency debate in the United Nations. He didn’t answer.

The Taoiseach has a serious responsibility here. He cannot continue evading giving an explanation for why he was either fooled by the US/ British assertion or connived in the falsehood.

Socialist TD accuses Irish government of war falsehoods to facilitate Iraq invasion

Below is the transcript of the verbal clash between Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party TD (Member of the Irish Parliament) and CWI member, and the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, during question time in Parliament on Wednesday 28 May.
Joe Higgins, the only TD to take the wage of an average skilled worker, ridiculed the stand of the right-wing Fine Fail coalition government in supporting the US invasion of Iraq on the basis of the Bush administration’s claims that the Saddam Hussein regime had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) primed for use. Over the last two days, Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that US forces are unlikely to find such WMD in Iraq. Many young people and workers around the world now doubt whether such weapons ever existed in the first place. The weapons issue of course was only a pretext by which to launch US imperialism’s war of conquest against Iraq.  CWI online

Mr. J. Higgins: The United States Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, admitted yesterday that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were destroyed before the invasion. This is the same person who reveled like a psychopath in his strategy of shock and awe as the entire infrastructure of a nation was blown to rubble by US and British bombs. This is the same person who, with President Bush, dictated that thousands of Iraqis would be slaughtered, children blown from their beds and civilians ripped to shreds by cluster bombs, allegedly because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which posed a threat to the world.

What does the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] say to this devastating admission and to a devastated Iraq and Ali Ismail Abbas, the 12 year old boy who moved the world as his limbs were battered by US bombs, allegedly to remove weapons of mass destruction? I ask this of the Taoiseach because the Government should give an explanation.

On 20 March last the Taoiseach moved a motion in the House condemning the refusal of the Government of Iraq to comply with its obligations to disarm under numerous resolutions. Now we see that the motion and the speeches of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste were moved on foot of a falsehood perpetrated by the United States Administration, which the Taoiseach accepted. On foot of that falsehood, the Taoiseach facilitated the invasion of Iraq through the use of Shannon Airport.

The Parliament and the people were misled. What will the Taoiseach do about it? Will he as a minimum ask the United States ambassador for an explanation? Will the Taoiseach demand an emergency United Nations discussion on the matter?

An Ceann Comhairle [Parliamentary chairperson]: The Deputy’s two minutes has concluded.

Mr. J. Higgins: Will he demand that Messrs Bush and Blair be impeached for a three week long war crime? Will the Taoiseach finally apologise for the fact that, inadvertently or otherwise, he misled the Dáil and the people by giving credence to a palpable falsehood?

Deputies: Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach [Prime Minister]: I stated yesterday in reply to a parliamentary question that under the new UN resolution, I look forward to both the International Atomic Energy Association and UNMOVIC being sent back to Iraq. Whatever they will find ultimately or whatever history will say about the location of the weapons of mass destruction during last March, I make no apology for anything I said, especially given that 14,000 victims were killed in one village on one day by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Mulcahy: Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: I increasingly see programmes on television of the multi—–

Mr. F. McGrath: The Taoiseach is effectively saying the Government supported the war.

An Ceann Comhairle: Allow the Taoiseach to conclude, without interruption, please.

Mr. M. Higgins: When some of us were condemning Saddam some in the Government were supporting him and selling him beef.

Mr. N. Dempsey: The socialist wing of the party has found its voice at last.

Mr. M. Higgins: It is the truth.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Michael D. Higgins, this question is Deputy Joe Higgins’s.

Mr. M. Higgins: Yes. It is a very good question and I would like to hear an answer to it.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should allow the Taoiseach to continue.

Mr. Martin: The Deputy did not ask the question.

Mr. M. Higgins: I will ask it tomorrow and straighter than the Minister answers questions about health.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Michael D. Higgins, please allow the Taoiseach to continue.

The Taoiseach: It is amazing how some people are so glad to argue the case for a dictator—–

Mr. M. Higgins: We never did that.

Mr. M. Smith: Yes, you did.

Mr. M. Higgins: No, we did not, and the Minister for military intelligence should know that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption, please.

The Taoiseach: —–who was responsible for killing thousands of his own people and using torture against people and who engaged in significant activity against his own population. Deputy Joe Higgins asked me if I would apologise to the House for supporting the UN resolution, playing a key role on the Security Council and doing all we could to help. I am proud of the actions we took in supporting the UN Security Council and anything else we did in this regard.

Mr. J. Higgins: If the Taoiseach were around in the days of William Butler Yeats, I would say he was the inspiration for his Song of the Wandering Aengus because he takes us around the issues but does not answer the question. Unfortunately, millions of innocent people throughout the world have been the victims of horrific dictators—–

Mr. Cregan: Including Saddam.

Mr. Mulcahy: Like Stalin.

Mr. J. Higgins: —–many of whom were supported by US Governments over the years. That is a crime. Unfortunately, some of the innocent victims of Saddam Hussein were killed by people doing so on the strength of Fianna Fáil beef—–

Mr. Martin: Rubbish.

Deputies: Nonsense.

Mr. J. Higgins: —–including that sold by Ministers of the party who did business with the beast of Baghdad.

Does the Taoiseach see any irony in the fact that one of the effects of this invasion is to have removed from safe-keeping in Iraq radioactive materials that could be used in a devastating attack against civilians in future? Far from making the world safer, it makes it less stable. The Taoiseach did not answer my question. We will have to keep coming back to it and the Tánaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] may have to answer it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Higgins’s time has concluded.

Mr. J. Higgins: Does the Taoiseach mind, that as leader of this country, he repeated a falsehood given to him by his friends in the United States? Does he mind that he misled the people? Does he mind that his policy was dictated on the strength of a falsehood? Does he not think that this at least merits an explanation to the Dáil and the people?

Mr. F. McGrath: Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: For Deputy Higgins’s information, I had the pleasure once again last night of meeting W.B. Yeats’s son Michael Yeats. I do not think he was upset about any of the things the Deputy is upset about.

Mr. Rabbitte: I thought the Taoiseach was going off to The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

The Taoiseach: It is not a question of being misled by any falsehoods. There were 14,000 deaths—–


An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Higgins should allow the Taoiseach to answer the question.

Mr. J. Higgins: He is not answering the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach is entitled to the courtesy that was afforded to the Deputy.

The Taoiseach: The trouble is the same issue of dictatorship. The Deputy wants to dictate and wants me to accept it. He is selective about what dictator he follows. The reality is that the Government has supported the UN decisions and have supported its work throughout – and we played a significant role in it. We are glad to see the UN is back into position. UNMOVIC and IEA will, I hope, be back in Iraq in a short period of time. Let us be frank, any role we might have played was small, and we are not going to apologise for any small role we might have played in helping to remove a dictator who had made his people suffer for 20 years, carried out horrific acts and did not care about democracy or anything he did against his people. He is gone now and thank God for that.

Mr. J. Higgins: The Taoiseach does not mind being lied to.

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