IAWM Press Statement on Prince Charles visit to Ireland 18 May 2015

The Irish Anti-War Movement oppose the publicly funded visit by Prince Charles to Ireland given his connections to the British Military and his open support for undemocratic, despotic regimes.

Irish political leaders and the mainstream media are making much of Prince Charles’s impending visit to Mullaghmore as a personal event of closure and an act of reconciliation that will aid the Northern Irish peace process. Many Irish people may likewise see this as a useful act, just as they regarded the Queen’s visit. The problem is that Prince Charles and the British Royalty generally are not benign forces – they play a continuous role in promoting the British military and the arms industry around the world. Prince Charles is Colonel-in-chief of many regiments of the British Army including the notorious Parachute Regiment which killed 13 innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday in Derry.

The Sein Fein leader, Gerry Adams, has expressed the hope that the Prince’s visit will be “an occasion to promote reconciliation, respect and understanding". However Prince Charles has never expressed such concern for the victims of the wars waged by the British military in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Nor has he balked at his role in promoting the British arms industry which arms repressive regimes that have appalling human rights records. Professor Neil Cooper of Bradford University's Peace Studies Department has noted that: "There is a long history of members of the royal family supporting the promotion of the UK arms trade in the Middle East - and especially the Gulf …. It is accepted as part and parcel of the brief."

Prince Charles has in the past openly defended his role in promoting British arms sales by claiming they act as deterrents and that he was defending British industrial interests, saying famously at an arms trade fair in Dubai in 1994 that: “If the UK doesn't sell them, someone else will".

His connection to the British arms industry and his support for despotic Arab regimes is legendary. He has officially visited Saudi Arabia twelve times. In February 2014, he shamefully indulged in a sword dance with Princes from the House of Saud, ignoring the fact that the sword is used by that repressive regime to regularly behead people. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest ratios of public executions which have already spiked to a total of eighty by May 2015, more than were executed in all of 2014. Saudi Arabia also enslaves women and publicly flogs dissenters with impunity while Britain and other western powers buy its oil, arm it to the teeth and praise it as a valued ally. The day after he departed that 2014 visit, Britain’s largest arms company announced the sale of 72 Typhoon fighters to the Saudi Kingdom. Andrew Smith, spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CAAT, noted at the time: "It is clear that Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer."

Prince Charles allegedly finds the extreme form of religion practiced in, and exported from, Saudi Arabia ‘frightening’. If this is the case then why does he continue to assist the British Government and leading arms manufacturers in promoting arms sales to such a despotic regime? Such armaments have likely been used to kill civilians in Yemen and human rights protesters in Bahrain and have made their way to helping such a reactionary force as Islamic State.

The roles of Prince Charles and other members of the British Royal family, in promoting militarism and arms sales while ignoring human rights abuses, must be exposed and challenged. The British Military, not to mention its bloody imperial history, has in recent times caused untold suffering to millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the wider middle east and has fostered sectarian tensions most notably evidenced by the rise of Islamic State. The legacy of Britain’s militaristic adventures is partly witnessed these days in the thousands of terrified migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.

These are the reasons why we should oppose this visit to Ireland by Prince Charles.

Since 2008, Saudi Arabia has procured more than £5.5 billion in UK arms, Oman around £900 million, the UAE just under £300 million, Kuwait over £80 million, Bahrain around £30 million and Qatar just over £26 million.







Jim Roche, PRO, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 647 2737
John Molyneux, Secretary, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 735 6424
Marnie Holborrow, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 988 9244
Ed Horgan, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 085 851 9623

Website - www.irishantiwar.org

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