Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, recently visited the US and met with George Bush around the time of St Patrick’s Day.
The exchange below is between CWI member and Socialist Party MP, Joe Higgins and Ahern at parliamentary question time in the Irish parliament
Socialist MP, Joe Higgins, attacks Irish Prime Minister for visiting George Bush
Joe Higgins (The Socialist Party):
When the Taoiseach met President Bush in Washington recently, he presented him with a bowl of green shamrock. Does he agree that it might have been more appropriate to present Mr. Bush with a bunch of red clover to symbolise the blood-drenched cataclysm that he and the rest of the US Administration have visited on the unfortunate people of Iraq? The fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq was four days after the Taoiseach tipped the cap to Mr. Bush. The recent meeting may have been the Taoiseach’s last time, in his current position, to meet Mr. Bush. Did the Taoiseach ask the US President for an explanation of, or an apology for, the utterly fraudulent reason he gave the Taoiseach for the invasion? Did Mr. Bush offer any such explanation or apology? Many of us knew at the time that President Bush’s explanation was an exercise in outrageous mendacity, although the Taoiseach professed to believe him.
Did the Taoiseach discuss the future of Iraq with President Bush? Did he ask him to get out of Iraq and to allow the Iraqi people to work out their future without the interference of the US? Did the Taoiseach discuss with Mr. Bush the Government’s collaboration in the use by the US of Shannon Airport for troops on their way to participate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq? Did the Taoiseach pledge to continue that collaboration?
The Taoiseach (Prime Minister):
I discussed a range of international issues, including Iraq, with President Bush. The Americans are continuing to work with the elected Government in Iraq to try to bring peace and some harmony to that war-torn area. Certain problems are continuing to this day, unfortunately – a large number of people were killed in Iraq today. I think the US Administration would be glad to be able to finish its mandate in Iraq by leaving a more peaceful society there, but that does not seem likely in the short term. President Bush is of the view that the US is making progress in Iraq and is playing an important role in trying to bring stability to that country. Deputy Higgins knows my view is that the Government did not support the war in its early stages because it did not have a UN mandate. Obviously, when the UN mandate came some time later, we supported the US position.