No Answers from the Gardai at Shannon

It was a cold, wet Sunday afternoon at Shannon Airport. Two US Navy aircraft sat on the tarmac; one was a Hercules KC-130T Hercules, registration 164993, the other a C-40 Clipper, registration 168980 (both regular visitors to Shannon). Outside the airport, the regular monthly peace vigil took place as Gardai, with their backs to the US Navy planes, blocked the attendees from entering the airport.

There have been 10 years of monthly peace vigils, all calling on the authorities and the Irish government to inspect US military and CIA planes landing at Shannon. The US military use of Shannon needs to end, in order to restore Ireland's credibility as a neutral state. But in the meantime the inspection of the planes is a necessary step towards re-establishing the Irish authorities' control of our civilian airport.

Dail Eireann Agrees to PESCO - Another Step Towards a European Army

A press conference hosted by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) was held on 7th December to highlight government plans to rush a motion through the Dail to agree the new PESCO agreement. Peace and human rights campaigners fear a more militarised EU linked to NATO, and as opponents of the Lisbon Treaty 2009 suggested then and now, it will lead to a European Army.

Later on in a rushed debate on PESCO, opposition TDs highlighted their concerns about Irish neutrality, allying ourselves with the imperial military forces of France, Germany and the US. Mick Wallace TD condemned the use of Shannon Airport by US military as a base to invade and terrorise nations around the world.

Debate Needed on PESCO

The Fine Gael / Independents government is to propose to the Dail this coming week that Ireland join the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO). This will mean a new EU Defence budget starting at over €1.5 billion a year (up from €590 million). Each participating EU state, including Ireland, will be required to reach an average of 2% of its GDP to ensure that the EU becomes a global military power.

As a result, Ireland will have to increase its military expenditure by 2020. According to the Phoenix Magazine (1/12/17) the Government is seeking a leap in defence spending from the current €946 million in 2018 to around €3 billion plus by 2020. This is likely to result in major cuts in other areas such as the health sector.

PESCO - Further Erosion of Irish Neutrality

The Irish Government has given the go-ahead for Ireland to take part in an EU security and defence pact called Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO). This is one of the most important decisions this Fine Gael / Independeny Alliance government will make. As such there should have been serious debate on the issue, with all points of view presented, in the mainstream corporate media. This has not been the case; the media has largely ignored this further erosion of Irish neutrality, just as it continues to ignore the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.

Another Day in Court for Four Peace Activists

Four peace activists appeared in court today at Ennis Circuit court. Two travelled from Dublin, one from Waterford and one all the way from Limerick. Their legal team from the Pat Finucane Centre travelled from Belfast and Cork to represent two of the peace activists.

The decision not to use local legal representatives is based on experience of past peace activist trials. While in theory there should be clear separation and independence between the judiciary, the prosecution, and legal representatives for defendants, in practice these three are sometimes too closely associated.

Today was the twelfth time Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan had to appear in court on the same alleged offence and the actual trial may still be almost a year away. For Dan Dowling and Edward Horgan it was the sixth day in court, Theynow have two more dates on 13 and 18 December with no trial date any time soon.

Dan Dowling in Conversation with Fellow Peace Activist Colm Roddy

On 31st October activists Dan Dowling and Colm Roddy both appeared, yet again, at Ennis Court in relation to their peace actions. The cases were 'for mention' only, so nothing of note took place. Afterwards Dan sat with long-time activist Colm and discussed his activism, war and more. Here's a transcript of the conversation.

Colm Roddy outside Ennis Court. [Photo: Ciaron O'Reilly]

D: I saw a clip last night Colm, Ronald Regan's visit to Ireland, he arrived in a school and the children were dressed up in báníns for him. Ireland gave away her gas and fish for nothing, her children to emigration, our neutrality, recently our data. Is there any other country though that kowtows this much- to the yanks in particular? 

C: Ireland's like the 51st state, after 9-11 we were the only country that held a national day of mourning. I was in town and every shop and institute was closed down. It was a more excessive reaction than the USA I think. And the rendition flights, our government accepted the word of the lying USA with no effort made to ensure there were no prisoners on board.

D:The age of the protesters and their profile, it is predominantly older people, the world over. What's wrong with my generation? I asked this a few times, the answers that came back were today's peace movement is remnants of the anti-draft movement, or anti-apartheid, in Ireland there were issues with the peace movement in Belfast, but what's happening with my generation?

C: Education now is a kind of mental slavery. There's a stoic acceptance of state authority, people don't realise individuals have human rights. Last week I met with TV3 and a company called side line productions. Fundamentally I believe everyone has equal rights and that's where I'm coming from.