The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., today signed a convention banning the use of cluster munitions on behalf of Ireland at a ratification ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

The Minister stated that Ireland, in common with 107 other countries, was pledging an end to cluster munitions and their use. The manufacture and deployment of such munitions was wrong and had to end, he said.

"These bombs, often designed to look like toys or decorations, have maimed and killed thousands of children and adults around the world. Long after wars and conflicts have ended, their deployment provide a legacy of ongoing death and destruction. The signing of this convention by 107 countries is a major international move against their manufacture and critically their usage," the Minister said.

The Minister went on: "This is a proud day for the international community who have said enough is enough. I am equally proud of the vital role Ireland played in securing agreement to ban the munitions at the Dublin diplomatic conference in May which has paved the way for so many countries to sign this convention today.

"As a small nation we have a proud tradition in honourable foreign policy. Former Foreign Minister Frank Aiken was the first to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty at the UN in 1968.  Ireland played a vital role then and today we have played another crucial role and I thank my colleague Foreign Minister Micheál Martin for his work in securing the deal in Dublin. 

"Having seen for myself the terrible harm done by cluster munitions in Lebanon, I was determined that we should spare no effort in working for a complete ban on these weapons. We pushed an open door in the Dáil when seeking support across parties and I am pleased to see some of my Dáil colleagues here today. Credit is due also to a core group of like-minded States, NGOs and the indomitable spirit of the Ban Advocates who have overcome horrific injuries to bear witness to the horrors of cluster munitions. That was inspiration enough to work hard.  

"We must not rest on our laurels.   We have concluded a Convention which bans immediately all cluster munitions which have caused harm to civilians in the past.  It will only enter into force six months after ratification by thirty States.  That must be our first target.   But to deliver momentum, Ireland today deposits its Instrument of Ratification with the United Nations Secretary General.  We are thereby echoing the example we set eleven years ago today in respect of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.  

"We must focus now also on clearance and stockpile destruction as further crucial steps. The Convention has state of the art provisions on victim assistance.  We owe it to victims and affected families and communities to enable them to lead productive and dignified lives by giving real meaning to these provisions." 

3 December 2008