Warplanes Refuelling at Shannon but Gardai Still Refuse to Investigate

Hercules MC-130P at Shannon, 9th January 2011Shannon airport has played a despicable role in the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is continuing today, and the evidence was visible for all to see on Sunday 9th January as two US warplanes sat at the airport. One of these was a Hercules MC-130P 66-0216 special operations warplane. It is known as a Combat Shadow because of the subversive roles that it plays, not only in war zones, but also on so-called special operations in other countries. These operations are frequently denied by the U.S. Government.

This is not the MC-130P's first visit to Shannon. It refuelled here also in 2005 (see a photograph of the aircraft at Shannon on this jetphotos webpage) and probably multiple times in the meantime.

The Grunts Military website describes the MC-130P warplane’s mission as follows:

“The Combat Shadow flies clandestine or low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level missions intruding politically sensitive or hostile territory to provide air refueling for special operations helicopters. The MC-130P primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Secondary mission capabilities may include airdrop of leaflets, small special operations teams, bundles and combat rubber raiding craft, as well as night vision goggles, takeoff and landing procedures and in-flight refueling as a receiver.”

Given that the US is currently engaged in many secretive missions involving assassinations and bombings by drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) and special operations forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, this aircraft may well be involved is such operations. Yet it was being guarded today by a special detachment of Irish army soldiers, protecting possible war criminals. Given Minister Dermot Ahern’s preference for covering his backside rather than searching US military warplanes or torture planes (as revealed by Wikileaks), the current responsible ministers will also almost certainly deny any complicity in such activities.

A request was made by Shannonwatch peace activists to the Gardai today to search the MC-130P. As usual they refused, and requested information to justify such a search. Our offers to search the plane to produce this information were declined, but the Gardai did agree to accept information from us outlining the evidence that these Hercules aircraft may be carrying weapons likely to be involved in war crimes and/or human rights abuse. We intend to present a dossier of information on all such warplanes as well as CIA torture rendition planes, including details of planes known to have visited Shannon since 2001 and still visiting.

Request made to Gardai to investigate Hercules MC-130P at Shannon airport

Request being made to Gardai at Shannon airport (during vigil) to search Hercules aircraft

We hope that the Gardai will give this extremely important matter the attention and investigation merited.

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