Shannonwatch Response to first of Wikileaks Cables from US Embassy in Dublin

The message that we must take from the first of the Wikileaks documents from the US Embassy in Dublin is that not only must we continue to expose and highlight US military and CIA abuse of Shannon airport and Irish sovereign airspace, but that we must reinforce our activities and our effectiveness. In the interest of justice and truth, and in the interest of humanity we all have a clear duty to speak out and to take actions to prevent such gross injustices.

The release by Wikileaks of confidential US embassy cables is known to include over 600 cables from the US embassy in Dublin, and even more relating to Ireland. Most of these are not yet available on the Internet and their publication is awaited with interest by many. They will be of particular interest to all those who believe that the Irish people should not be assisting a foreign power to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, and that Ireland should not be facilitating torture.

The Catholic Workers acquittal for damaging a US warplane at Shannon gets special mention in the first of the released cables from the US embassy in Dublin. According to the cable, “Willie O'Dea and governing Fianna Fail party politicians have publicly questioned the legal merits of the Shannon Five jury decision.” It is of grave concern that the US Embassy seems disappointed at the Irish government's apparent reluctance to interfere with the judicial process, and that comments by a government minister that a sovereign jury decision should be questioned are acceptable.

It is also notable that the cable refers to the five activists (Ciaron, Damien, Deirdre, Karen, and Nuin) as “the Shannon Five” and avoids referring to them as the Catholic Workers. This, one can imagime, is to avoid highlighting the principled reasons behind their action.

The cable states that “The major opposition party, Fine Gael, supports continued U.S. military use of Shannon”. This is an issue that Shannonwatch and others in the peace movement plans to address in the forthcoming elections, making it clear that the majority of the Irish people do not support continued U.S. military use of Shannon. The cables also state that: “In late 2005/early 2006, EU-wide debate on extraordinary renditions similarly galvanized this lobby, and the Irish public generally, to question U.S. military access to the airport.” It is good at least that the two issues of war and torture were identified as interconnected by the Irish public, and indeed by the US embassy, and it is important to note that we in the peace movement have achieved some significant successes, even if we have not achieved nearly enough so far.

The cable goes on to say that “[f]or segments of the Irish public, however, the visibility of U.S. troops at Shannon has made the airport a symbol of Irish complicity in perceived U.S. wrongdoing in the Gulf/Middle East.” It is interesting to see how the US embassy view how we perceive US crimes against humanity, or “wrongdoings” to use their own words.

The exposure by peace activists on what is happening at Shannon resulted in the following actions by the Irish Government. “On August 15, the Irish Department of Transport informally advised Post by e-mail that all military equipment, including HMMWVs and trucks, were to be considered "munitions of war," requiring prior notification to the Transport Department and exemption waivers for transshipment.” (HMMWV stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or Humvee). No mention is made so far of depleted uranium munitions or large scale explosives, and cruise type missiles and attack drone aircraft, but we are aware that these items have most likely been transported through Shannon airport.

Economic arguments in favour of the US military use of Shannon are also undermined by the leaked Embassy correspondance. The cable admits that the much hyped 'local benefits' such as hotel stopovers occur perhaps 8 - 10 times a year.  Eight nights for 200 troops in one year is not keeping the economy of the mid-West of Ireland afloat, nor does the 4-5 beds for the more frequent air-crew stopovers. It is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of euros of taxpayers' money that is spent on security and on subsidising Air Traffic Control fees for the military flights.

Some may argue that in this time of Irish economic crisis, matters such as foreign wars, crimes against humanity committed against “foreigners” and torture should be ignored, in the so-called national interests. In the interest of justice and truth, and in the interest of humanity we all have a clear duty to speak out and to take actions to prevent such gross injustices. The unlawful and unjustified taking of human life is the most serious breach of human rights possible.



The Wikileaks US Embassy Cables are available here: Browse by tag and select EI for Ireland. However this site is under ongoing attack so if you cannot access it you will find a copy of the cable here.

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