Veterans for Peace Formed in Ireland

Edward Horgan flies the Veterans for Peace at Shannon Airport.

Following a meeting between Edward Horgan, who is a founding member of Shannonwatch, and Ben Griffin of Veterans for Peace in the UK, a Veterans for Peace has been formed in Ireland. Edward Horgan is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces and UN peacekeeper. He is also international secretary of the Peace and Neutreality Alliance (PANA), and is now the main contact person for Veterans for Peace in Ireland.

Arrests and Detention without Trial?

The Gardai at Shannon have apparently adopted a new tactic to deal with peace activists. Instead of charging peace activists with various offences as they have done frequently in the past, they now appear to have adopted a policy of arresting peace activists at their homes, bringing them to a Garda station, and interrogating them for periods of about 6 hours, during which time they are held incommunicado, and confined to a Garda cell or interview room. It could be argued that this practice amounts to punishment without trial, and this may be the intention. A Jury in Dublin acquitted the five Catholic Workers on a charge of Criminal Damage to a US military plane at Shannon in 2003, and the Appeal Court belatedly overturned the conviction of Mary Kelly for damage to the same aircraft. All six of these peace activists had admitted damaging this warplane and the estimated cost of repairs was in the region of two millions dollars.

Words about Peace and Security are Becoming Meaningless

Glenn Greenwald, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, said “A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza - beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably "defending itself" - is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all.” He is right of course, and he could have added other governments - including Ireland's - to the list for which the statement is true.

Greenwald went on to point out that Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. That support has caused over 50 Palestinian deaths (at the time of writing) in Israel’s latest unjustified attack on Gaza. A lot of the weapons it uses are supplied or financed by America. And if the UN were ever to try censuring Israel for its repeated violations of law and morality, then its good friend the U.S. would certainly veto that into oblivion.

No Accountability for Law-Breaking at Shannon Airport

In September 2012 the Italian criminal appeal court upheld the conviction of 22 US CIA agents, one US pilot of a rendition plane and two Italian intelligence officials, all of whom had been convicted in connection with the kidnap of Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar. Abu Omar was then transported to Egypt on February 17th, 2003, on Gulfstream 4 plane with tail number N85VM, where he claimed he was tortured. It has been confirmed by independent investigations including Amnesty International, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the UN Rapporteur on Torture, that this aircraft was refuelled at Shannon on February 18th, 2003 on its return journey to the US.

Aircraft N85VM had previously been refuelled at Shannon in another case revealed in New York court documents. On November 8th 2002 it arrived at Shannon from Washington and flew on to Dubai and Kabul on a mission that is likely to have involved the rendition and alleged torture of Abd al-Nashiri.

One Swallow does not make a Summer

The courage shown by Malala Yousafzai in speaking out against Taliban human rights abuses in Pakistan was remarkable and inspiring, and it is good to see that the British Government paid for her transfer to a hospital in Birmingham after she was brutally shot by the Taliban. However the arrival of one swallow does not indicate the start of a summer of peace and justice. Just over a week ago a senior UN official voiced grave concern about reports that three children may have been among those killed during an airstrike by the US-led military forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. And in recent days Amnesty International have highlighted the deaths of at least 100 children in Afghanistan from freezing last winter, and warned that this may occur again this year.

Large Garda Presence in Shannon for Peaceful Vigil

Security at Shannon was over the top today as the monthly Shannon vigil took place in the wake of last Sunday's "outrageous" peace action by Margaretta D'Arcy, who at 78 years of age allegedly scaled the perimeter fence and along with Niall Farrell of galway Alliance Against War carried a protest against US military use of Shannon Airport on the main runway.