The Dáil has heard fierce criticism of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US troops, as well as Opposition attacks on the continued use of Shannon Airport by the US military.

The criticism came a day after a US attack near the Syrian border with Iraq in which around 40 people died.

Junior Minister Tom Kitt said the Government has publicly and strongly condemned the mistreatment and abuse of prisoners by US and UK forces.

The former Fine Gael party leader, Michael Noonan, said that as day follows day, the whole moral basis for the intervention in Iraq declines.

The Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, said the continued use of Shannon was becoming more and more controversial in the light of events in Iraq, and was involving Ireland in those events.

Labour's Michael D Higgins, accused the Government of staying silent over the invasion of Iraq, which degraded and shamed them.

Earlier, a number of Opposition TDs asked for the business of the House to be postponed to allow for discussion of the attack, and of recent killings of Palestinians by the Israeli Army, but were turned down.

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party asked if it was still appropriate to welcome Mr Bush to Ireland given his ‘indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians’ in Iraq.

The Tánaiste, Mary Harney, pointed out that Mr Bush would be in Ireland for an EU/US summit, but did not answer when Mr Higgins asked if she would be comfortable shaking Mr Bush's hand.

The Dáil spent two-and-a-half hours on statements about the situation in Iraq this afternoon. Despite Opposition requests, there were no questions to ministers, nor was there a vote on a formal resolution.