Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen indicated this week that troop movements could be halted if war went ahead without the backing of the UN Security Council.
The D_il is set to debate the issue today with a motion opposing the Shannon troops stopover having been drawn up by opposition and independent TDs.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Cowen did not say that a refusal of Shannon as a facility would be definite or total if the U.S. acted unilaterally or without UN backing. But he said that the U.S. should not take Irish landing facilities for granted and added that Ireland would not support any attack on Iraq without a second resolution from the UN.
Ireland, as a Security Council member, late last year voted for the current Security Council resolution 1441, which cleared the way for renewed weapons inspection in Iraq.
Pressed as to whether there were circumstances in which the U.S. military would be stopped from using Shannon, Cowen replied cautiously. “There possibly are, but I don’t want to speculate on that at the moment,” he was reported as saying in the Irish Independent.
Cowen denied the U.S. was breaching agreed rules on the transport of soldiers and munitions through both Irish airspace and Shannon Airport, insisting that the U.S. was complying with an updated arrangement, agreed last September.
Ireland supports the principle of military action against Iraq if it is deemed unavoidable by the United Nations.