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Statement by the Tánaiste on developments in Libya

I welcome what now appears to be the end of the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya.  I have previously made clear our view that Colonel Gaddafi and his family have no role in the future government of Libya, and he should now depart without further violence.

Yesterday I watched the hope and emotion as the pace of events quickened and the rebels surged towards and entered Tripoli, and the population celebrated what looks like the end of the dictatorship which has ruled Libya for 42 years. In the end the forces of the dictator, which had no real popular support, seem to have withered away. The fighting is probably not yet over, but we can hope now that the Libyan revolution can be brought quickly to a successful end with the minimum of bloodshed.

The Libyan National Transitional Council is now the only authority in Libya, and I hope they will quickly be able to establish an effective government over the whole country. I have met their representatives, and was impressed by their vision of an inclusive and democratic future for all Libyans, and the thought-out plans they had for achieving it. The international community will look to them to respect human rights and the rule of law, including in respect of prisoners, and to restore peace and stability. Libya now faces urgent tasks of reconstruction, reconciliation and development. Ireland, both nationally and with our European Union partners, will do all we can to help. I will be discussing these issues with my EU colleagues in the coming weeks.

During these past weeks, as the fighting drew close to Tripoli, my Department’s Consular services remained in close contact with the remaining Irish families there, and made arrangements for possible evacuation. We believe that all Irish citizens are safe at this time.

We have also had many representations over recent months from the Libyan community in Ireland, and I offer them my congratulations on what should be a hopeful new beginning in their homeland.

Finally, we have now watched popular demands for change sweep away oppression in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Arab peoples have shown us that they have the same desire for freedom and democracy as we do, and they will not be intimidated. I hope, even at this late stage, that the authorities in Syria and elsewhere will learn this lesson.