Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Friday July 27, 2007
The Archbishop of Dublin, John Neill, has accused the Irish government of "moral compromise" in allowing hundreds of thousands of US troops to use Shannon airport while on transit flights to Iraq.
The comments by the archbishop, the most senior Church of Ireland cleric in the republic, follows debates during the election over the use of the Limerick airport.
The issue was a key negotiating demand of the Green party in coalition negotiations with Fianna Fáil over forming a new government last month. But the party failed to get the US troop flight banned.
Archbishop Neill told Dublin's Hot Press magazine: "I feel very strongly that economic links to America have made us very blind to the moral issues ... I think as a nation there has not been sufficient questioning of these [alleged CIA] rendition flights and the link of Ireland with the war in Iraq."
The Fianna Fáil-led government in Dublin has shown nervousness about Shannon, summoning the US ambassador when airport cleaners found a manacled US prisoner - a soldier on disciplinary charges - aboard a hired troop transporter. US authorities had failed to notify the Irish government of his presence.
The Irish government has defended cooperation with the US on the grounds that troops travelling to Iraq and Afghanistan are operating under UN mandate.