Irish American Information Service

06/24/04 06:52 EST

Campaigners in Ireland have urged members of the public to come out in their thousands to protest at the visit of US President George W Bush to the country tomorrow to attend an EU-US summit.

The Stop Bush Campaign, organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Peace and Neutrality Alliance and the NGO Peace Alliance, held a press conference today on the eve of the President's visit. Mr Bush arrives in Ireland tomorrow night and leaves on Saturday afternoon.

Green Party leader Mr Trevor Sargent said: "If the President of the US is the most powerful office in the world, then George W. Bush, by his actions and attitudes, is the most dangerous man in the world. I urge all law-abiding people who believe in peace to protest loudly at the actions of the Bush administration."

Labour's Mr Ruairí Quinn said that Mr Bush should not be allowed to come to Ireland for "photo opportunities" to support his re-election campaign. He said that the meeting should have been held in Brussels.

Mr Brendan Butler of the NGO Peace Alliance and Richard Boyd Barrett of the IAWM stressed that the protests would be family-friendly and peaceful.

A petition opposing the war in Iraq, organised by Hot Press and the IAWM, is being handed to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, today at Government Buildings. It has collected 20,000 signatures in six days.

A Stop Bush demonstration takes place at 7 p.m. local-time tomorrow at Parnell Square and in various cities around the country. Protests are also due to take place in and around Shannon Airport, where Air Force One touches down tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said today that Ireland must use its presidency of the EU to urge President Bush to end his country's human rights abuses.

In an open letter to the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, the human rights group said the US "war on terror" was breaking international humanitarian law.

"With clear evidence of torture by US forces, and no limit on how high up the chain of command responsibility lies, the EU's silence has been shameful and deafening," Amnesty's Irish section director, Mr Sean Love, said.

He urged the Taoiseach to use his position as President of the European Council to tell Mr Bush that international law must be obeyed.

"The summit is the ideal time to confront President Bush with the strength of international opinion on the horrors of the detention centres in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan, and the other secret US locations," the letter says.

Mr Bush should not leave Ireland without a clear message that the EU expects its single most important partner to abide by the absolute ban on torture laid down in international law, it continues.

The leter points out that the EU's new constitution approved by EU leaders in Brussels six days ago affirms the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as the bedrock of the European Union.

"Surely now is the moment for the EU to back up its concern with robust calls on President Bush to ensure that the US opens the doors of its detention facilities not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and other undisclosed locations elsewhere to United Nations human rights experts and independent international human rights monitors."

Ireland's deputy premier, Ms Mary Harney, told the Irish Parliament yesterday that the Government had concerns about a number of aspects of US foreign policy would be "made clear" when Mr Bush visits.

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