Approving US Military Flights Through Ireland With Weapons on Board is a Rubber Stamping Exercise

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has recently started to publish a Monthly Report on Munitions of War Exemptions issued under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order, 1973 on its website. It can be be accessed via the following link http://www.dttas.ie/aviation/publications/english/statistics-munitions-war.

As the latest figures available show, a total of 427 permits were granted for civilian aircraft to take munitions through Irish airspace or airports in the first 6 months of this year. 149 of these were for flights with personal weapons of troops on board landing at Shannon Airport. Ten were for flights landing in Ireland with munitions classified as dangerous goods on board, and there were 260 flights classified as "other overflights in Irish airspace with munitions on board". The remaining ten were for flights by Irish Registered aircraft not entering Irish airspace

All of the troop carriers and most of the overflights with munitions on board were US military contracted planes.

These flights were en route to places like Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Turkey and Qatar.

A total of 19 permit requests were refused, including in one case (only) the personal weapons of troops on a flight from the US to Qatar which was due to land at Shannon. An application seeking to transport five warhead rockets via Shannon Airportwas also refused.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD said that the 19 permits were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He said this highlighted the fact that the consultation process is not merely "a rubber stamping exercise".

In fact the opposite is the case. We have seen applications for permits for multiple US military contracted flights with weapons on board, obtained under freedom of information, that are stamped "Seen by Minister". Granted the papers say that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade was "consulted" but there is no documentation to support this consultation.

As far as we can tell, the requests from the US military to take munitions of war through Shannon Airport are always rubber stamped. And these days it is Minister Shane Ross that does the rubber-stamping.

Since 2010, over 6,800 permits have been granted to take munitions of war through Irish airspace or airports. Again, almost all of these are for US military contracted aircraft. Thats a lot of rubber-stamping, and a lot of breaches of our neutrality.

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