Almost Two US Troop Flights a Day through Shannon in January
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport statistics for January show that 55 flights with personal weapons of troops on board landed at Shannon Airport in January. That is over twice as many as for the same month in 2017. All these were granted exemptions to carry weapons under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 by the minister Shane Ross. In other words he approvel each and every one of the troop flights.
In 2017 the Department received 340 requests for US troop flights seeking to land at Shannon Airport. It granted 334 applications and refused six.
A further 24 flights were allowed to land in Ireland with munitions classified as dangerous goods on board. There were 21 flights by Irish registered aircraft not entering Irish airspace.
In addition to this, Minister Shane Ross approved 540 overflights in Irish airspace with munitions on board. The details of these flights are not yet available but it is assumed that virtually all of them were US military contracted flights (troop carriers)
A total of 25 requests were refused. It is not known why.
The figures are available on the Department of Transport website at http://www.dttas.ie/aviation/publications/english/statistics-munitions-war.
In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, Minister Ross explained that in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Order, his Department operates a procedure under which airlines wishing to carry weapons or munitions through Irish airspace or airports must apply for each flight at least 48 hours in advance. He said
"My Department seeks the views of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to foreign policy issues and the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to security issues. The IAA is consulted in relation to aviation safety issues for applications involving munitions that are also categorised as dangerous goods. If any of these bodies objects, an exemption will generally not be granted."
In the case of requests from carriers like Omni Air International and Atlas Air to take US troops and their weapons through Shannon or Irish airspace, the permits are generally granted. This is with the agreement of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that should be upholding our neutrality, even if Minister Ross and Transport keep asking for permission to breach it.
The Minister also referred to an ongoing internal review of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973, which he says is "to identify the options available for various aspects of the Order".
The internal review will be completed in the coming weeks. However the review is examining the Statutory Instrument primarily from an administrative and legal perspective. Minister Ross says that there is no proposal to change "the long-standing Government policy of permitting aircraft used by the defence forces of various nations to transit through Irish airspace and airports, subject to appropriate terms and conditions". Shannonwatch have repeatedly called for a broader public consultation on the 1973 order that sought and incorporated submissions from interested parties. At present it is being used to undermine irish neutrality and fuel ongoing wars across the Middle East.
It is time to stop the misuse of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973, and to end the US military use of Shannon.