FG TD says Libyan rebellion should not be supported


A GOVERNMENT backbencher has described the Libyan crisis as an internal matter and that “coups and attempted coups are commonplace in Africa”.

Michelle Mulherin, who shares the Mayo constituency with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, told a Dáil debate on the conflict that opponents of Muammar Gadafy “did not follow democratic means. They took up arms against their leader.”

Ms Mulherin added: “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.”

The new TD said oil was what made Libya “special” and the “external interference from countries such as the US is worrying”.

“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.”

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton had earlier expressed her pride in the EU’s role in the implementation of the UN’s no-fly zone resolution.

Ms Creighton said it had “already saved countless lives by enabling the international community” to “stop Col Gadafy and his troops from marching to Benghazi and slaughtering innocent and defenceless citizens”.

“It is important to acknowledge that success which has already happened in Libya,” she added. “I am proud of the European Union’s involvement in that process.”

Ms Creighton compared the action on Libya with “previous examples of total and utter ineptitude both within the EU and the UN with regard to the Balkans in the 1990s”. In the past, “the EU and UN failed miserably in regions which were at grave and immediate risk of experiencing mass genocide and gross violation of human rights due to a lack of political co-ordination and a common and coherent approach.

“The genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 is a prime example of the horror that can occur due to needless inaction on the part of modern European and western states.”

Ms Creighton had been responding to Opposition concern about the West’s intervention.

Mick Wallace (Ind, Wexford) said Ireland was “taking sides in a civil war”.

“Five of the major powers in the world today – Brazil, Russia, China, India and Germany – have already refused to back this bombardment.

“We want to see the end of Gadafy but, as Lawrence of Arabia said many years ago to his English counterparts, ‘better that the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly’.”

Opening the debate, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said it was “inaccurate” to characterise the international response as “an attempt to achieve regime change”. It was clear there would be “no place for Col Gadafy in the political leadership of Libya”.

Michael Kitt (FF, Galway East) said his party supported the UN Security Council resolution and the Government. “We support military operations taken under and in strict accordance with the resolution.”

Mr Kitt, a former minister of state for foreign affairs, said the UN resolution was about the “cessation of the violence, not about aggression. In short, it is not about wiping out Gadafy.”