Statement by Dermot Ahern T.D. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

 The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, has confirmed that following his receipt of a report on the visit to Washington and Guantanamo by a group of officials last week, he had decided to accept two detainees for resettlement in Ireland.

He confirmed this position today at a meeting in Dundalk with the new American Ambassador, Mr Dan Rooney.

The Minister said "During my time as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I was the first EU Minister to call for the closure of the detention facility. The Government has consistently called for its closure since then. In making this decision I am conscious of the intention of the United States to close the centre at Guantanamo Bay, in part by transferring detainees, no longer regarded as posing a threat to security but who cannot return to their own countries, to other countries willing to accept them."

The Minister said that the European Union Member States had agreed arrangements last month concerning monitoring etc. of former detainees accepted by Member States for resettlement and said that Ireland would be complying with those arrangements.

The Minister said that, while the two men being accepted by Ireland were not being admitted as refugees within the meaning of the Geneva Convention he intended to adhere to the norms of official procedure in respecting the rights of the two men to their privacy. There would not therefore be public disclosure of any personal information, family situations etc. nor would details of the arrangements for travel to Ireland be made public.

While a definite timetable has yet to be established, the transfer of the two detainees is expected within the next couple of months.

The Minister asked people to acknowledge the difficult conditions in which the two men had been detained for a number of years and to allow them time and space to adjust to their new circumstances when they arrive.

29 July 2009