MDH defends right to protest against Bush

February 26th, 2004 | by aobaoill |

Michael D Higgins has challenged the Irish government’s calls for there to be no protests during Bush’s visit this June, stating in part that “Certainly I plan to participate in any lawful and peaceful protests that may be held.” I attach his full statement below.

“It is quite presumptuous, indeed arrogant, of the Taoiseach to expect people to set aside all their concerns about U.S. foreign policy, particularly the conduct of the war in Iraq, and not to protest during the planned visit of President Bush to this country in June.
“People have a right to peacefully protest and more than 100,000 of our citizens exercised this right to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq when they marched though the streets of our towns and cities 12 months ago.
“The Taoiseach may indeed regard the visit as ‘an honour for the Irish people’, but many people will also regard it as an occasion that merits a restatement of the opposition of huge numbers of the Irish people to the current direction of U.S. foreign policy. Certainly I plan to participate in any lawful and peaceful protests that may be held.
“We now know that the basis on which the United States pursued the war against Iraq was entirely phoney. The United Nations and the international community were misled. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no imminent threat to the region or to the rest of the world. The war against Iraq was illegal under international law and the United States has created a very dangerous precedent by being the first democratic country in recent times to assert the right to launch a pre-emptive strike against another country..
“President Bush’s trip to Ireland is not an official visit. It is a working summit between the EU and the United States and it should be treated accordingly. It should be limited to the working agenda and this country should certainly not be used to provide photo-opportunities for George Bush in the run up to the U.S. Presidential elections.
“It is little less than immoral to ask the Irish public to affect an amnesia on the recent war, a war that is taking Iraqi and civilian lives and the lives of young U.S. soldiers every day. Neither should we forget the Irish Government’s shameful complicity in this illegal invasion and occupation.”

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