Blogs

Debate Needed on PESCO

The Fine Gael / Independents government is to propose to the Dail this coming week that Ireland join the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO). This will mean a new EU Defence budget starting at over €1.5 billion a year (up from €590 million). Each participating EU state, including Ireland, will be required to reach an average of 2% of its GDP to ensure that the EU becomes a global military power.

As a result, Ireland will have to increase its military expenditure by 2020. According to the Phoenix Magazine (1/12/17) the Government is seeking a leap in defence spending from the current €946 million in 2018 to around €3 billion plus by 2020. This is likely to result in major cuts in other areas such as the health sector.

PESCO - Further Erosion of Irish Neutrality

The Irish Government has given the go-ahead for Ireland to take part in an EU security and defence pact called Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO). This is one of the most important decisions this Fine Gael / Independeny Alliance government will make. As such there should have been serious debate on the issue, with all points of view presented, in the mainstream corporate media. This has not been the case; the media has largely ignored this further erosion of Irish neutrality, just as it continues to ignore the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.

Another Day in Court for Four Peace Activists

Four peace activists appeared in court today at Ennis Circuit court. Two travelled from Dublin, one from Waterford and one all the way from Limerick. Their legal team from the Pat Finucane Centre travelled from Belfast and Cork to represent two of the peace activists.

The decision not to use local legal representatives is based on experience of past peace activist trials. While in theory there should be clear separation and independence between the judiciary, the prosecution, and legal representatives for defendants, in practice these three are sometimes too closely associated.

Today was the twelfth time Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan had to appear in court on the same alleged offence and the actual trial may still be almost a year away. For Dan Dowling and Edward Horgan it was the sixth day in court, Theynow have two more dates on 13 and 18 December with no trial date any time soon.

Dan Dowling in Conversation with Fellow Peace Activist Colm Roddy

On 31st October activists Dan Dowling and Colm Roddy both appeared, yet again, at Ennis Court in relation to their peace actions. The cases were 'for mention' only, so nothing of note took place. Afterwards Dan sat with long-time activist Colm and discussed his activism, war and more. Here's a transcript of the conversation.

Colm Roddy outside Ennis Court. [Photo: Ciaron O'Reilly]

D: I saw a clip last night Colm, Ronald Regan's visit to Ireland, he arrived in a school and the children were dressed up in báníns for him. Ireland gave away her gas and fish for nothing, her children to emigration, our neutrality, recently our data. Is there any other country though that kowtows this much- to the yanks in particular? 

C: Ireland's like the 51st state, after 9-11 we were the only country that held a national day of mourning. I was in town and every shop and institute was closed down. It was a more excessive reaction than the USA I think. And the rendition flights, our government accepted the word of the lying USA with no effort made to ensure there were no prisoners on board.

D:The age of the protesters and their profile, it is predominantly older people, the world over. What's wrong with my generation? I asked this a few times, the answers that came back were today's peace movement is remnants of the anti-draft movement, or anti-apartheid, in Ireland there were issues with the peace movement in Belfast, but what's happening with my generation?

C: Education now is a kind of mental slavery. There's a stoic acceptance of state authority, people don't realise individuals have human rights. Last week I met with TV3 and a company called side line productions. Fundamentally I believe everyone has equal rights and that's where I'm coming from.

The Dangers of Using a Civilian Airport like Shannon to Transport US Military Cargo

Recent discussions about the safety or otherwise of having the US military flying in and out of Shannon Airport gave us reason to recall an incident in March 2008 in which a Murray Air aircraft was involved in an emergency landing at Shannon. This was after it was seen flying over Askeaton, which is across the River Shannon estuary from the airport, with flames coming from one of its engines. Residents of the County Limerick town described their windows rattling and houses shaking as the cargo plane flew low over a housing estate in the town.

At the time there was a discussion about the incident on the RTE Radio's Joe Duffy Show. During the discussion Tracey Bell, Director of Administration for Murray Air, admitted that explosives had been brought through Shannon by the airline on previous occasions.

Peaceful Protest and the State's Heavy-Handed Response at Shannon

The October peace vigil at Shannon on Sunday 9th was a peaceful, dignified affair as always. Almost 20 people gathered to express their opposition to the ongoing US military use of the airport. Some were local, while others travelled from Cork, Galway and elsewhere to join the protest.

A group of the peace vigil attendees at Shannon

At the same time an Omni Air International troop carrier sat parked at Gate 42. It was being refuelled by Top Oil, a company whose website claims that communities are important to them and that they are driven to "achieving more for all our customers". Clearly Top Oil cares more about the US military war machine as a customer than it does about the communities whose lives it is destroying.