Ireland: “Why Australian Prime Minister Howard is not welcome”

Joe Higgins and independent TDs (MPs) condemn anti-union, pro-war leader

The following is a press statement by Joe Higgins TD [MP] (Socialist Party) Dublin West and several independent TDs outlining their opposition to the official visit of right wing Australian Prime Minister John Howard to Ireland.

The TDs boycotted John Howard’s address to Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament). This principled position has received widespread media attention in Australia.

"Why Australian Prime Minister Howard is not welcome"

Press Statement – 23rd May 2006

Why Australian Prime Minister Howard is not welcome to the Dáil:

  • Instigator of vicious anti trade union legislation;
  • Facilitator of disastrous US/ British invasion and occupation of Iraq;
  • Peddler of anti-immigrant lies to appeal to bigoted minority for electoral gain;
  • Expropriator of East Timorese people’s resources;

Finian McGrath T.D. (Independent) Dublin North Central

Jerry Cowley T.D. (Independent) Mayo

Seamus Healy T.D (Independent) Tipperary South

Catherine Murphy T.D. (Independent) Kildare North

Joe Higgins T.D. (Socialist Party) Dublin West Committee for a Workers’ International

At a press conference in Dublin, today, the following statement was issued by the above Members of Dáil Éireann:

We deplore the invitation extended to the Australian Prime Minister John Howard to address the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann.

We extend a warm welcome to ordinary Australians visiting or living in Ireland.

Anti-Trade Union Laws

We join in solidarity with the Australian labour movement in opposing Prime Minister Howard’s industrial relations laws, which are viciously anti- trade union. These laws represent a very serious attack on the wages and conditions of Australian workers, abolishing unfair dismissal protection in enterprises of less than 100 workers; weakening collective bargaining by forcing individual contracts on workers; and further restricting freedom to strike aimed at giving business, large and small, increased power to exploit workers.


Mr. Howard has played a key role in facilitating the criminal US/British invasion of Iraq. By committing troops to the ongoing disastrous occupation of Iraq, Mr. Howard is an important prop in the imperialist strategy in the Middle East aimed at controlling the region and guaranteeing oil supplies for the West.

We acknowledge also that Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Bertie Ahern will recognise a soul mate in Howard, as the Irish Government continues to facilitate the occupation of Iraq through servicing tens of thousands of United States troops at Shannon International Airport.

Anti-Immigrant Lies

We note that Prime Minister Howard has never retracted or apologised for his disgusting lies during the 2001 General Election that Iraqi refugees had deliberately drowned their children when the Australian Navy intercepted their attempts to land in Australia. We note that very many Australians are dismayed at the camps where asylum seekers are imprisoned.

Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that Mr. Howard’s hard-faced attitude toward those seeking refuge is shared by Ireland’s Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

Oil and gas resources in Timor Sea

Prime Minister Howard presides over a situation where Australian interests are taking the lion’s share of oil and gas from disputed fields in the Timor Sea. Relying on discredited agreements with Indonesia when it brutally controlled East Timor, the East Timorese people are cheated of desperately needed resources to tackle the appalling poverty very many endure.

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May 2006