The following is the video, and transcript, of the now famous statement by Irish parliament deputy (TD) Clare Daly of the United Left Alliance, delivered in the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas) on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Also see Clare Daly in Twitter and Facebook:
Deputy Clare Daly: It is important to take this opportunity to bring some balance into the discussion surrounding the visit of the US President and his wife, given the almost unprecedented slobbering over the Obama family to which the nation has been exposed in recent days. It is difficult to decide which is worse, the outpourings of President Obama and his wife or the sycophantic fawning over them by the political establishment and sections of the media. While we had separate and special news bulletins by the State broadcaster to tell us what Michelle Obama and her daughters had for lunch in Dublin, there was very little questioning of the fact that they were having lunch with “Mr. Tax Exile” himself [reference to Bono of U2]. The statement that Mrs. Obama was glad to be home was barely challenged even though “home” is a country she has been in for less than one week and to which her husband has only tenuous links.
The greatest irony of the visit was the protestations of President Obama in his speech about peace to children in Northern Ireland, in which he stated the following:
To those who choose the path of peace, I promise you, the United States of America will support you every step of the way. We will always be a wind at your back.
Is the US President seeking the hypocrite of the century award? We must call things by their right names. The reality is that by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal. He has just announced his decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition, including jihadists, which will fuel the destabilisation of the region, continue to undermine secularism and set back conditions for women. President Obama is, in essence, stalling the Geneva peace talks by trying to broker enhanced leverage for the Syrian opposition by supplying it with arms and to hell with the thousands more Syrians who will lose their lives and the tens of thousands who will be displaced as the war continues. This is the man who facilitated a 200% increase in the use of drones which have killed thousands, including hundreds of children.
The Taoiseach [Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny] has turned a blind eye to these activities. He spoke of the G8 summit being an opportunity to showcase Ireland. Is it not the case that he has showcased us a nation of pimps prostituting ourselves in return for a pat on the head? We were speculating this morning about whether the Taoiseach would deck out the Cabinet in leprechaun hats decorated with stars and stripes to mark our abject humiliation.
What steps will the Taoiseach take to follow the correct decision made by his colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, to vote against a proposal to lift the arms embargo on Syria? What steps will he take to ensure no weapons destined for Syria will be transported through Shannon Airport in breach of our international duties as a neutral State? What steps will he take to showcase this country, not as a lapdog of US imperialism but as an independent nation with an independent foreign policy, one which takes a lead in international diplomacy to outlaw the use of drones, the favourite method of extermination of the Taoiseach’s friend, President Obama?
I did not say anything about the Northern Ireland peace process. While everyone supports the peace process, that does not give one a licence to do whatever one likes anywhere else around the globe. There is not much peace in Iraq where 26 people lost their lives yesterday, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Syria. My position on Syria is one of agreement with Oxfam, which issued the following statement on the issue:
Sending arms to the Syrian opposition won’t create a level playing field. Instead, it risks further fuelling an arms free-for-all where the victims are the civilians of Syria. Our experience from other conflict zones tells us that this crisis will only drag on for far longer if more and more arms are poured into the country.
This is essentially what the Americans have done in Syria. I can only assume from the Taoiseach’s failure to answer my question that he will not take steps to ensure arms are not sent through Shannon Airport in breach of our neutrality.
He said here last week that no arms ever came through Shannon Airport. How does he know that given that no investigations take place? In 2012, 548 US planes landed in Shannon Airport. How does he know what was on them if they were never examined? In reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport revealed that 239 civilian planes that landed in Shannon Airport sought permission because they were carrying munitions of war or dangerous goods on civilian aircraft. What steps will the Taoiseach take to intervene in this situation?
People in this country are very fond of our American brothers and sisters. We stand far more shoulder to shoulder with them by making valid criticisms of their President who has broken his election promises rather than just pimping this nation as a tax haven for their corporations. I am sure the Americans would far prefer their multinationals to pay their taxes at home rather than offshore here so that they could develop their health care and would not be wasting money on arms being sent to slaughter people in other countries.
ALSO, please see this very much related previous article, featuring a similar speech by Belgian member of parliament, Laurent Louis.