Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has described the presence of the Irish naval vessel, the LÉ Samuel Beckett, at an international arms fair in London, following their high profile refugee rescue missions, as totally inappropriate and insensitive. Crowe also said the decision to send the ship raises serious contradictions in the Government’s stated policy of neutrality.

Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) is the world’s biggest arms fair.  DSEI has been accused several times over the years of facilitating the sale of banned equipment, including weapons designed for torture and cluster munitions, and the weapons systems on display at this event include Israeli ‘battle tested’ weapons that have been indiscriminately used on Palestinian civilians.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“You don’t need to have a degree in international relations to enable you to see the glaring contradictions of sending an Irish naval vessel, which has rightly been lauded for its role in saving the 2,818 people refugees fleeing from war and conflict, turning up at world’s largest international weapons fair.

“It was an appalling and unwanted decision. It was also completely insensitive to those distraught individuals who the LÉ Samuel Beckett saved in the Mediterranean, many who were fleeing conflict and have lost loved ones to the type of weapons being sold at this fair. The LÉ Samuel Beckett should not have taken part in an arms fair that will fuel future conflicts.

“How is it anyway morally right or justifiable that Ireland and its Defence Forces should support the sale and promotion of these weapons of war? The weapons being sold at this fair prop up dictators, despots, and allow apartheid, discrimination and inequality to be enforced. They have reduced cities rubble and create a situation where there are over 65 million refugees in the world today.

“The colossal sums being spent on these same weapons of war could and should be used to eradicate poverty, hunger, and inequality right across the globe.

“The Government’s decision to send one of its flagship vessels and crew to be displayed alongside these weapons of conflict is appalling.

“Sinn Féin has written to the Minister for Defence asking him to clarify the grounds and rational for sending the LÉ Samuel Beckett to this reprehensible arms fair.”