Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Sasko Lazarov

Shannon Airport not being used by US to facilitate Israel, Taoiseach says

Varadkar said there is a “double standard” in Europe and internationally when it comes to Israel’s actions in Gaza and Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said Shannon Airport is not being used by the United States to transport military supplies to Israel.

His comments come ahead of a People Before Profit motion due this week in the Dáil in relation to the matter. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week in Politics programme today the Taoiseach said categorically that the airport was not being used to facilitate the war in Gaza “or any war for that matter”. 

“You have to receive express permission to bring munitions through any airport in Ireland, and they have to be signed off on by the Department of Transport and the Minister for Transport,” the Taoiseach said. 

Double standard

Speaking about the war more generally, the Taoiseach said he agrees with some members of the opposition that there is a “double standard” in Europe and internationally when it comes to Israel’s actions in Gaza and Russia’s actions in Ukraine. 

He said however that he does not believe this is the case in Ireland. 

“I don’t think that’s true in relation to Ireland. If they’re saying that in relation to the European Union, and some Western powers, I think they’re correct. And I made that point at the Peace Conference in Paris that there can’t be double standards when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine,” the Taoiseach said.

“And that when it comes to international humanitarian law, it has to apply across the board,” he added.

The Taoiseach said one of his concerns is that the double standards being applied by some countries in the West is undermining the fight in Ukraine.

“One of the things that I’ve been working very hard on and European leaders have been working very hard on is to gain support for Ukraine, across the Global South.

“From Africa, from Latin America, from Asia. Saying to them that what’s happening in Ukraine is a war of aggression. It’s an imperialist war. You should be against it,” he said.

The Taoiseach added that the double standards from “a lot of Western powers has underminded that fight”.

‘We need to slow the flow’

On the number of Ukrainian refugees who have been welcomed in Ireland, the Taoiseach said Ireland needs to reduce the number of new arrivals.

Over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the outbreak of Russia’s war with Ukraine in 2022. 

The Taoiseach said he is “really proud” of this but that there is only so many additional people a country can handle. 

“I do think we need to slow the flow. Migration is a good thing for Ireland. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me in that regard,” he said.

“There’s only so many additional people that any country can manage in any given year. So I think when it comes to people who are coming to Ireland for economic reasons, we control it in terms of the number of work permits and work visas we issue, we do that already.

“When it comes to irregular migration – that’s people coming from Ukraine or people seeking international protection – I think one of the things we have to do, and we have to be honest with each other about this is to make sure that what we offer in terms of accommodation, in terms of work, in terms of money is similar to what’s offered in other Western countries,” the Taoiseach said. 

He added that Ireland should not be encouraging secondary movers – people who have arrived in one country seeking protection before moving to another – and said that Ireland needs to align with what is being offered in countries like the UK, France and the Netherlands.