US War Business - NOT Welcome at Shannon

US troop carriers at Shannon Airport on Thursday 22 December

Last week Shannon Development proudly declared Shannon Airport’s links with the US as the ambassador Dan Rooney visited the airport. But Shannon's links with the US these days are largely about supporting invasions, wars of occupation and human rights abuse. And this US business is not welcome at Shannon, as was made clear by the US troops out message left on an Omni Air Troop Carrier parked in the airport on Monday night. 

As was reported in the Irish Independent, an aircraft associated with the US military (an Omni Air International troop carrier) was damaged in a security breach at the airport. A hydraulic pipe was severed, and the clear message US troops out was painted on the plane.

It is hardly surprising that such an action would take place. We've had 2 million armed US troops and an unknown amount of military cargo and munitions taken through the airport in the last ten years. A report in the New York Times on Dec 14th - which is when the US ambassador was being paraded through Shannon - indicated that Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time by US troops (the report was also carried in the Irish Times). As the US hyped the end of the war in Iraq, the tragic consequences for millions of Iraqi people were being ignored in Washington, in Dublin, and in the Shannon Development hospitality suite.

The situation in Afghanistan is as distressing as in Iraq. In January 2010, U.S. soldiers stationed near Kandahar executed an unarmed 15 year old Afghan boy named Gul Mudin in the village of La Mohammad Kalay. According to sworn statements, two soldiers – Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes – staged the killing to make it look like they had been under attack. Ordering the boy to stand still, they crouched behind a mud wall, tossed a grenade at him and opened fire from close range. (See full report). 

Cpl. Morlock and Pfc. Holmes probably passed through Shannon Airport at some stage on one of the Omni Air International Troop Carriers. Maybe they shopped in the Duty Free area, drank pints of Guinness, or made a phone call. But was the few cents of airport income worth the life of Gul Mudin or the many others who have died as a result of the troop movements through Shannon?

Thankfully there are many people around Shannon and Ireland who want to end the US military use of our civilian airport. They are in solidarity with the families of people like Gul Mudin and the many millions of people who are suffering as a result of today's violent US foreign policy.

It is also worth noting that media reports of the "incident" at Shannon stress that the plane on which the US troops out message was left was only there to be used as a replacement aircraft by Omni, and was therefore not required to be protected by the Irish authorities. The fact that foreign military planes at Shannon normally get Garda security is an outrage, given the savage cuts being made to services in Ireland to meet IMF demands. It is high time that the Ministers responsible for providing this security - particularly Minister Alan Shatter - told the Irish people exactly how much our support for the US war machine is costing.

Whatever the cost, it is an affront to the proud history of neutrality and peace keeping that successive Irish governments have claimed to hold dear.

Shannonwatch's new year resolution will be to continue to oppose the US military use of Shannon airport. The next demonstration at the airport will be on Sunday, January 8th at 2pm. No doubt the Gardai will be out in force - as they always are at these peaceful demonstrations - to show that they have the airport well protected.

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