Bringing Peaceful Protest to Shannon

The first citizen of Dublin, Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha joined us at Shannon for our June peace vigil calling for an end to the US military use of the airport. Around 25 peaceful demonstrators took part, with people from Clare, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Kildare and Dublin joining with locals from Shannon Town.

Approximately the same number of Gardai blocked our access to the airport, with approximately 10 vehicles, several airport police officers, and a line of crown control barriers to help them.

Meanwhile a US military aerial refuelling aircraft sat in plain sight of the terminal building. The KC-10 had made an emergency landing last weekend, after it developed a problem with one of its engines while refuelling fighter planes over the Atlantic. It isn’t clear if the refuelling was taking place inside or outside Irish airspace; if it was inside it would be in clear breach of even the lax guidelines that the Irish government have laid down for US military planes.

At the peace vigil the Lord Mayor spoke about the failure of successive governments to uphold Irish neutrality, and of the importance of the peace actions that have been ongoing for more than 17 years at the airport. He drew particular attention to the presence of two peace activists, Colm Roddy and Edward Horgan, at the vigil; they are currently being dragged through the courts for their peaceful attempts to highlight the US military use of the airport.

At the end of the peace vigil the group walked towards the airport but were stopped by the Gardai who would not inform the peaceful protestors as to why they were being stopped. The Gardai were asked if the KC-10 was inspected as it should not have been carrying weapons when in Irish airspace. Again the sergeant in charge provided no information. They were reminded of their duty to uphold peace, justice, and security, and that their failure to inspect CIA rendition planes and US military aircraft over the years was a dereliction of duty.

Earlier in the day one peace activist who attempted to photograph the KC-10 and a Dassault Falcon executive jet that was parked beside it was followed by an airport police officer who issued an order to leave. The airport police offices claimed that the activist had no lawful reason to be where he was, and that without permission to take photographs he could not do so.

Despite the authorities attempts to block the recording of US military planes at the airport we are happy nonetheless to be able to publish our photographs of the planes in question.

Clearly the gardai were far more interested in ensuring that the 25 peaceful protestors who gathered ouside the airport were unable to bring their message of peace to the terminal building than they were at investigating whether or not there were weapons on board either of these planes. We have spent years asking them if inspections were undertaken. Yet the planes keep on landing. After our peace vigil an Omni Air International troop carrier arrived; this is a regular occurrance - on average two US military flights a day land at Shannon. Yet the Shannon Airport website makes no mention of this. One of their key market segments, transit traffic, accounted for 155,574 passengers through Shannon in 2017 according to their traffic figures. The 60,968 US troops (with weapons) is a very significant percentage of this business. But as the Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha alluded to in his address to the peace vigil at Shannon, this is not a sustainable or appropriate business model for the airport. He emphasised that he and his party Sinn Fein want to see Shannon Airport be successful, but not on the basis of supporting war.

Our next peace vigil at Shannon is on July 8th at 2pm. We encourage everyone who is opposed to the US military use of Shannon Airport to join us.

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