Shatter calls for anti-war speaker to be refused entry visa

 

Fine Gael has demanded that a visa be refused to an employee of a Lebanese TV station to address an Irish Anti-War Movement conference, claiming the station is run by Hizbullah.

Alan Shatter (FG, Dublin South) said the Al-Manar station "is basically a Hizbullah propaganda television station, spouting anti-American and anti-Semitic diatribes on a regular basis".

He called for the Government to refuse to issue a visa to Ibrahim Mussawi, a Beirut-based employee of the station.

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan said the visa application was under consideration, no decision had been made, and he would not debate the merits or otherwise of individual applications in the Dáil.

He had no desire to stifle public debate on the war in Iraq or on any other matter, but he must also "have due regard to the requirements of public order in its widest sense".

He said he did not want to prejudge consideration of any application, but said "in circumstances where the State uses its discretion to allow an individual to enter the State, there should be no abuse of this privilege".

Raising the issue on the adjournment of the Dáil, Mr Shatter said it was a "disgrace that some members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, including a member of a party that is in government, will, according to the leaflet published by the Irish Anti-War Movement, share a platform with a member of Hizbullah" at the conference in Dublin on October 13th.

He said it was "extraordinary that a member of a group such as Hizbullah should address a meeting designed to oppose occupations as the raison d'etre of that group is to support the Syrian occupation of Lebanon".

He also hit out at the anti-war movement, claiming it was not a peace movement but a "strident anti-American one".

"Rather than an organisation which wishes to see the peaceful resolution of conflicts around the world through discussion and compromise, it is a collection of misty-eyed old Soviet Union sympathisers who have now befriended Islamic fundamentalists."

Mr Shatter said France had closed down the Al-Manar channel following a decision by the country's highest court.

Mr Lenihan said he had an obligation to protect the citizens of the State, and he would "take into account various factors, such as concerns about national security or danger to individuals, before making a final decision".