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16 September 2004 Edition

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'Occupation of Iraq must end' - Sinn Féin MEPs

Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún (Six Counties) and Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin) have called on the EU to focus all its energies on securing an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and for the UN to oversee a speedy return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

De Brún and McDonald were speaking after a debate in the European Parliament on the situation in Iraq. In a joint statement from Strasbourg, the MEPs said:

"The bombing of Iraq was unjustified and the ongoing occupation of the country is wrong and must end. We believed then and we believe now that the way forward must be through dialogue. Tragically, thousands of civilians were killed during the invasion, and since the official ending of hostilities the civilian death toll continues to rise. We have also seen ongoing hostage taking and abuse of human rights, something which should end immediately.

"We are concerned that efforts to end this crisis are made all the more difficult with the EU busy pursuing and paying for its own security agenda. The true effect of the development of EU defence capacity, according to a report published by the panel on United Nations Peace Operations (Brahimi Report) in 2000, has been the depletion, not enhancement, of UN peacekeeping capacity.

"We recognise the important contribution of EU humanitarian aid to Iraq, and call for it to be increased to help provide the Iraqi population with food and medical aid. What is also required from the European Union is a commitment to do all in its power to ensure that the physical reconstruction and restoration of democracy in Iraq is handed over to the UN as a matter of urgency. This in turn must lead to a speedy hand over of power to Iraqis themselves so they can determine how best to govern their country."

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