shannonwatch's blog

Remembering Friends and War Victims at Shannon Today

At our Shannonwatch peace vigil today we displayed a beautiful banner produced by IPSC with artwork in memory of some of the Palestinian children who have been killed in Gaza. It was an appropriate banner, given all the children killed by wars facilitated by Shannon Airport.

We also held a special ceremony to remember the 12 peace activists who have passed away peacefully since we began our peace protests at Shannon in 2001.

The Agony of Yemen Getting Worse

The following letter from Shannonwatch's Edward Horgan was published in today's Irish Independent.

The appalling situation in Yemen is getting worse. According to the United Nations 10,000 people - two-thirds of them civilians, including thousands of children, have been killed and 55,000 injured.

On 9th August a bus carrying children to a summer school was hit by a Saudi air strike in the town of Dahyan in northern Yemen. At least 47 civilians including 29 children, all under 15 years of age, were killed. Col Turki al-Malki spokesman for the US backed Saudi dominated coalition said the attack was "a legitimate military action, conducted in conformity with international humanitarian law".

Time to Stop Servicing Warplanes at Shannon

At Shannon Airport at 3.30 pm this evening a US warplane was being refuelled and seemed to be getting some repairs done. All part of Ireland's participation in totally unjustified wars in the Middle East.

Thirty four years ago in 1984, Dunnes Stores workers began a strike that would last almost three years. Shop steward Karen Gearon gave a union instruction to her colleagues not to handle any South African goods, in protest against the apartheid regime in the country at the time. When 21-year-old cashier Mary Manning refused to put some fruit through the till, she was suspended and nine of her colleagues walked out the door with her.

Why has there been no similar protest or refusal to service and refuel US warplanes at Shannon airport by workers at Shannon airport over the past 17 years? 

The brave Dunnes Stores workers sacrificed their jobs in order to do the right think. We urgently need similar brave workers at Shannon today.

No Mention of US Military in Shannon Airport Report

It comes as little surprise that the latest financial report for Shannon Airport makes no mention of the US military use of the facility. The report tells us that the overall number of passengers in 2017 was 1,751 million, which means that the official number of US troop that passed through the airport, 60,968, represents 3.5% of its overall passenger business. But the company running one of the country's main airports couldn't possibly mention this massive ongoing breach of irish neutrality.

Shannon Airport is one of the busines units of the Shannon Group. This is a commercial semi-state company established in September 2014. The other business units are Shannon Heritage, the International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) and Shannon Commercial Enterprises DAC, trading as Shannon Commercial Properties. Together they are "focused on delivering economic benefits for the West of Ireland and the wider national economy" (from the Shannon Group website).

The Shannon Groups are also careful not to mention the US military business.

US Troops in Breach of Defence Act at Shannon

On June 28th we were sent a photograph of three US soldiers, in uniform, outside the Topaz/Re-Store store in Shannon. We published the photograph on our Facebook page, and it prompted quite a reaction from the public.

The Defence Act 1954 prohibits the wearing of a foreign military uniform in the State without ministerial permission. Permission was granted in 2003 by then Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen to allow US military personnel to wear their uniforms in the transit areas of Irish airports, including Shannon Airport, but not outside the airport. We therefore wanted to know if these soldiers had been granted permission by the Minister for Defence, or if they were in fact in breach of the Defence Act.

Warplanes at Shannon, July 23rd

On July 23rd we recorded and photographed no fewer than three US warplanes at Shannon Airport. The most suspicious one was a C146A Wolfhound special operations aircraft. These are the type of missions it is used for by the US Air Force Special Operations Command, according to the American Special Ops website:

"Within United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the aircraft is used in the non-standard aviation role i.e. covert insertion, extraction and resupply of special operations forces. AFSOC operate a fleet of light and medium intra-theater aircraft that include the U-28A, C-145A Skytruck and C-146A Wolfhound. In the military role, the C-146A has been configured with special NVG-compatible lighting in the flight deck and cabin. While not publicly disclosed, the C-146A is likely to include a secure communications fitment as well as the capability to fit a defensive aids system (DAS).