Visiting US peace activists urge Irish Presidential candidates to state their positions regarding the use of Shannon

Irish Anti War Movement  Press Release, 20 OCTOBER 2011

Visiting US peace activists urge candidates for President in Ireland to state their positions regarding the use of Shannon Airport by the US military, and believe that such continued use of a civilian airport for military purposes is immoral.

In a press release today the Irish Anti-War Movement [IAWM] stated:

“We welcome the fact that three of the candidates in the presidential election (Michael D Higgins, Martin McGuinness, and David Norris) have already condemned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have criticised the use of Shannon airport for suspected 'extraordinary renditions' (kidnappings).”

The statement also called on the four other candidates to condemn the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and to call for an independent enquiry into the recurring allegations that kidnapped persons have been transported through Shannon airport to secret prisons where they were tortured.

The statement continued by urging the candidates to publicly indicate their commitment to raising the issue of Irish complicity in the 'War on Terror,' and to taking what steps Ireland can to protecting the lives of people in the countries being attacked by the Western powers, regardless of any embarrassment it might cause the previous and present government.

Speaking today Richard Boyd Barrett TD and Chair of the Irish Anti-War Movement (who signed David Norris’s nomination papers) said:

"I would hope that given their track record on opposing "The War on Terror", Michael D Higgins, David Norris and Martin McGuinness will make clear their opposition to these wars and to the use of Shannon airport by the US military.

"While the president cannot actually stop the US military using Shannon I would hope that candidates such as Higgins, Norris and McGuinness would put the lives of the people of Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan first, regardless of any embarrassment it causes the government, and to speak out against the on-going Irish complicity in these wars."

He went on to say: "I am also calling on the other four candidates to clarify their positions on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and to show their support for an investigation into the allegations that renditions have been carried out through Shannon airport."

US veterans of war who are currently visiting Ireland also requested the presidential candidates to condemn war. Gerry Condon, European Liaison of Veterans For Peace said:

“As an Irish-American, and a member of Veterans For Peace, I am doubly concerned about the continuing misuse of Shannon International Airport by the US military and CIA for transporting soldiers, war materials and prisoners, all in contravention of international law and against widely accepted moral standards. How is it that consecutive Irish governments have been complicit in such nefarious dealings, while keeping the Irish people in the dark? I hope the candidates for the Irish presidency are well informed about the abuse of Shannon airport and will pledge to put an end to it once and for all. Surely, the peace-loving people of Ireland do not want their sovereignty to be undermined by forces in the U.S. who are pursuing a suicidal strategy of perpetual war.”

US War Veterans Gerry Condon and Helen Herne will speak in Limerick on Friday 28 October (venue to be confirmed), and at an IAWM public meeting in Dublin on Friday 04 November.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Michael D Higgins has spoken at numerous anti-war protests and raised questions in the Dail regarding the transport of kidnapped persons through Shannon. On the 29th November 2007 Michael D Higgins raised the issue of "extraordinary rendition" (kidnapping) after the Gardai refused to investigate a complaint made by Edward Horgan on 30th October 2007.

For more details see: http://www.irishantiwar.org/files/Shannon_Airport.doc.

David Norris has spoken at many events on the use of Shannon Airport by the US military. On 3rd February 2005 he spoke at a press conference with members of the Catholic Workers (a group of people who successfully disarmed a US war-plane at Shannon). At that press conference he called for sanctuary to be given to US soldiers who did not wish to return to Iraq. He has also supported the Catholic Workers action and on the 11th November 2005 he called for the government not to continue with their third trial.

For more details see http://irishantiwar.org/archives/news/101163.html and http://irishantiwar.org/archives/news/101772.html.

Martin McGuinness is on record as telling Tony Blair in advance of the Iraqi conflict that it would be "an unholy mess" if he invaded the country. In addition many Sein Féin representatives have spoken at anti war events.

For more details see http://irishantiwar.org/archives/news/100702.html.

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