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Minister for Transport Must Explain Flight from Shannon to NATO Air Base in Southern Turkey

Shannonwatch calls on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross to explain why a plane operating on behalf of the US military was permitted to fly from Shannon Airport to Incirlik Air Base in Southern Turkey and back on Friday December 30th. The air base which is close to the Syrian border is used by the US to launch air and drone strikes and to store part of its nuclear arsenal. Any involvement in the delivery of military cargo or passengers to Incirlik is therefore a breach of Irish neutrality.

The plane, a Miami Air International Boeing 737, arrived at Shannon on Friday at 1pm, and took off less than 2 hours later.  It spent a similar length of time at the military airbase in Turkey before returning to Shannon at 4am the following morning.

Irish Peace Groups Question Peace Award to John Kerry

Five peace group have come together to oppose the awarding of the Tipperary International Peace Prize to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday next (October 30th). Galway Alliance Against War, the Irish Anti-War Movement, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Shannonwatch and Veterans for Peace also intend to hold protests at Shannon Airport and at Aherlow House Hotel in Tipperary where the award ceremony will take place.

Speaking on behalf of the five organisations, Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace posed the question: "What peace has John Kerry achieved and where?"  

"The award of peace prizes should be based on truth, integrity and justification" continued Dr Horgan. "Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded in the past to several people who were guilty of starting or being complicit in wars of aggression and human rights abuses. Henry Kissinger is a case in point.  Another example is Barack Obama who was awarded his Nobel Peace Prize just before he began authorising targeted assassinations and bombings that killed thousands of innocent civilians."

Another Booking Cancellation for Seminar on US Imperialism and Militarization

Shannonwatch are shocked and dismayed by another cancellation of their room booking for a seminar scheduled for Oct 8th. A number of international speakers are due to attend the seminar on US Imperialism & Militarization 15 Years after the Afghanistan Invasion, but as a result of room booking cancellations by three hotels in the Shannon and Bunratty area, new arrangements must now be made.

The Park Inn and the Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon, as well as the Bunratty Castle Hotel all initially accepted bookings for the seminar. Each then cancelled, claiming a mistake had been made. The most recent cancellation by the Bunratty Castle Hotel has come just 3 days before the event.

"It is beyond belief that three hotels would accept a booking and then discover they had no room available." said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "We spoke with each of them on more than one occasion. We discussed room layout, audio-visual facilities and refreshments with them. We even provided credit card details as requested. Yet all three cancelled our booking, and were adamant that alternative arrangements could not be made to accommodate us".

Foreign Affairs Refuse to Reveal Details of US Military Use of Shannon

 

Shannonwatch are gravely concerned by the ongoing refusal of the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide access to information about US military flights through Shannon.  Citing "the creation and maintenance of trust and confidence between governments" the department have said they will not provide records requested under freedom of information (FOI) because it would hamper the international relations of the State.

"It's impossible to see how making aircraft details public could affect our relations with the US, or any other state, if what they tell us about the planes not being engaged in military operations is true" said Clare Daly TD who made the FOI requests. "Since Ireland claims to be a neutral State we should not be allowing foreign military within our territory on the scale that is happening today. And we should certainly not be doing it without informing the Irish people of the details."

Agreement to Allow British Fighter Planes into Irish Airspace Further Erodes Neutrality

On Monday last it was revealed (Irish Examiner) that an agreement was reached some years ago between the Irish and British governments about protecting this country's airspace from terrorist threats. It appears that civil servants from the Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) entered into a bilateral agreement with British counterparts which would allow British Tornado fighter jets to shoot down aircraft in Irish airspace if they are hijacked by terrorists for a 9/11-style attack.

The agreement permits the British military to conduct armed operations in Irish sovereign or Irish-controlled airspace, and was taken without consultation with the army.

Shannonwatch are extremely concerned at this further erosion of Irish neutrality.

Case Against Peace Activist Edward Horgan Dismissed

Shannonwatch welcomes the dismissal of charges brought by the State against Edward Horgan at Ennis District Court today. The charges were a result of his attempt to inspect US military aircraft parked near the terminal building on April 18th 2015.

"Today's acquittal at Ennis District would was a small step in the right direction towards ending US military use of Shannon" said Dr Horgan. "This is just the latest in a series of trials of peace activists over their efforts to prevent complicity with war crimes at Shannon airport. This campaign will continue until Irish neutrality is restored, and Shannon airport is returned to proper civilian use only."

Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London on the day in question when he saw four US Hercules C-130 turboprop aircraft lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was boarding. Evidence to the court showed that he engaged in a "communicative protest" by walking towards the military planes to highlight the need to inspect them.