pressrelease

Gardai now have the Evidence to Investigate Human Rights Violations and Other Possible Breaches of International Law at Shannon

In response to repeated requests for information linking aircraft at Shannon Airport to human rights abuse and war crimes, Shannonwatch are today providing the Gardai with evidence and supporting material to help them investigate violations of international and national law at the airport. While some of this information is already in the public domain, Shannonwatch are also making available details of specific aircraft which have been linked to renditions and covert munitions transportation from their own detailed records.

The body of evidence presented to the Gardai concerns the use of Shannon airport for refuelling aircraft associated with the CIA rendition programme and with war crimes committed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. This evidence is been made available on the eve of the eight anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war. Much of it is based on the ongoing efforts of activists to monitor and record suspect renditions aircraft and military-related traffic through Shannon over those eight years.

Programme for Government should mean an end to U.S. Military use of Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch welcomes the commitment made in the new Programme for Government in Ireland that the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with international law will be enforced. If and when this is fully implemented it will ensure that Ireland is no longer supporting renditions, or facilitating the transit of armed troops and munitions through Shannon Airport to theatres of war. It will see a return to the country’s important status of being a neutral state.
 

Mary Kelly conviction overturned by Court of Appeal

On Friday 25th February 2011 the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin overturned the conviction against Mary Kelly for criminal damage to a US military aircraft at Shannon Airport on 29 January 2003. The decision was deliverd by Judges Peart, Hardiman and De Valera. Ms Kelly was originally convicted by Ennis Circuit Court in October 2004, and the appeal was heard on 29th July 2008. The Appeal judges offered no explanation as to why it took over two and a half years to deliver their judgment.

At her first trial in Kilrush Co. Clare, Ms Kelly’s response to the charge was: "I am not guilty as charged. I did what I have done with lawful excuse." This first trial resulted in a hung jury on 4th of July 2003. The State subsequently retried Ms Kelly and she was convicted in Ennis Circuit Court under Judge Carroll Moran on 29th October 2004. It was this conviction that was overturned today.

Engine Problems on U.S. Troop Carriers at Shannon Highlight Risks of Military Traffic to Civilians

Engine problems experienced by two separate Omni Air International troop carriers as they departed from Shannon on 6th and 7th February remind us once again of the grave dangers associated with transporting munitions and other military goods through a civilian airport like Shannon.

This is not the first time such incidents have occurred. The DC-10s used by Omni Air International are old and clearly not entirely reliable. Nonetheless the US Department of Defence considers them safe enough for their rank and file soldiers, while most of the higher ranking officers travel in executive jets and newer military aircraft. If one of these military contracted DC-10's crashed on take-off with a full load of fuel and thousands of rounds of ammunition on board, the consequences would be catastrophic. The airport fire brigade would be hard pressed to contain the damage to people and property as the ammunition started to cook off or explode.

Ireland Facilitated Thousands of U.S. Air Force and Troop Carrier Flights in 2010

President Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq in August 2010, but as records of military traffic released by Shannonwatch show, 2010 was a year of business as usual for the U.S. military at the civilian Shannon Airport.  Over a thousand U.S. military troop and cargo flights landed at the airport in 2010, while more than four and a half thousand such flights are known to have passed through Irish airspace en-route to and from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cargo companies with U.S. military contracts and planes linked to the extraordinary renditions programme also continued to use Shannon Airport.

Irish Government Minister's Complicity in Torture

The Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and Shannonwatch express their concern and outrage at information concerning former Foreign Minister Dermott Ahern’s meeting with former US Ambassador Foley in 2007. The information which is revealed in a released Wikileaks cable relates to the use of Shannon airport for rendition of prisoners to Guantanamo and elsewhere, where many of them were tortured.

In a reported meeting, Ahern had been “quite convinced” that the United States had operated “at least three flights involving [prisoner] renditions” through the airport, stopping there to refuel before traveling back to the United States. Yet Dermot Ahern, Brian Cowen, and Bertie Ahern were all happy to publicly declare that they accepted the word of the United States Government that no such flights had occurred. In so doing, it is likely they have been guilty of knowingly misinforming the Irish people, given that they either knew or should have known that Shannon airport was used extensively to refuel CIA and other rendition flights.