Protest and Protection at Shannon

On Sunday 13th March a small group of peaceful demonstrators gathered for the monthly vigil at Shannon Airport. The date was less than a week away from the 8th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war for which the Irish government allowed the United States armed forces to use the airport. To this day the U.S. military have continued to take troops and cargo through the airport on a daily basis without the approval of the Irish people. Similarly the CIA have been allowed to come and go as they please while engaging in illegal and cruel acts of kidnapping and torture.

As always, access to the aerodrome was denied to the people who gathered to demonstrate at Shannon on Sunday. The Garda Siochana (Irish police) were there in strength, outnumbering the demonstrators by at least two to one. Some circled in cars and vans, while others stood behind metal crowd control barriers erected on both sides of the road. All vehicles entering the aerodrome were stopped and checked for the duration of the one hour vigil. And all the while officers in unmarked cars sat watching the goings on. 

So who or what are the Gardai protecting at Shannon Airport and why? The officers in charge don't explain why they deny certain people entry to the aerodrome for the duration of the vigils (anyone can drive in unimpeded at any other time). They are either unwilling or unable to provide any legal basis for what they are doing. They observe demonstrators closely - some might even say in an intimidatory manner. And they use up a lot of taxpayers money on petrol while doing so.

The overt "protection" of armed U.S. agents and soldiers from less than a dozen banner-waving advocates of peace makes no sense from a law enforcement point of view.  Indeed one would have to wonder exactly why the young men and women who joined the force to uphold the law are sent out, month after month, to protect the unlawful from the lawful.

Having signed an oath to "faithfully discharge the duties of a member of the Garda Síochána with fairness, integrity, regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the Constitution and the laws and according equal respect to all people" they end up protecting CIA torturers, providing safe passage for munitions, and ignoring international law.

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