Mulherin will not be disciplined over Libya stance

Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 00:00

THE GOVERNMENT does not intend to take disciplinary action against newly elected Fine Gael TD for Mayo Michelle Mulherin, who dissented from official policy on Libya in the Dáil this week.

Ms Mulherin said in the debate last Thursday that the Libyan situation was “an internal matter” and that “the external interference from countries such as the United States is worrying”.

“Lessons seem not to have been learned from Somalia or Iraq and there is an ongoing situation in both Sudan and Egypt,” she said.

“What makes the Libyan situation special?  Purely and simply, oil does. Libya should be helped to settle its problems, but that is up to the Libyan people.

“Those who oppose Gadafy did not follow democratic means; they took up arms against their leader.They cannot expect support from democratic countries – countries that themselves insist they do not talk to terrorists – no matter what we think of the despot.”

She added: “Gadafy now faces an armed revolt against a government that is recognised by the UN and the EU. We in Ireland and the European Union must maintain the integrity of this position and resist any inappropriate intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state like Libya.”

Senior Fine Gael sources told The Irish Times last night that Ms Mulherin’s divergence from Government policy was “not a burning issue” and no one was “jumping up and down over it”.

No disciplinary action was intended. “This would only occur where deputies failed to support Government motions in the Dáil.”

A high-level Labour source made light of the issue, noting that “people have different views on things. There was no motion, it was a series of statements on Libya. It is not an issue as far as we are concerned”.

Also speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Labour Party leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore expressed support for United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, which authorised the international community to establish a no-fly zone over Libya and use all means necessary, short of foreign occupation, to protect civilians.

He said: “Ireland welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which is clearly intended to halt the violence being waged by the Gadafy regime against the Libyan people and to ensure civilian protection.

“I have also urged that any military actions taken in pursuit of resolution 1973 should be in full conformity with its terms and be proportionate, targeted and avoid civilian casualties,” Mr Gilmore added.