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Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch welcomes attempts by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon earlier today. At a time when the airport may be helping to supply the weapons used by Israel to kill and main civilians in Gaza, it is vitally important that we have proper oversight of what is on the military planes at the airport. Despite repeated requests the authorities refuse to search the planes to ensure they are not in breach of international law.  

"We are being told repeatedly that there is no proof there are illegal weapons on the planes" said Mick Wallace. "It is nonsense to suggest that none of them are involved in military operations or that there are no weapons on board these planes, which is what the government says. But because the authorities won't search the planes to find out if that is the case, people like us have to do it."

Shannonwatch Call for Investigation of Rendition Flights Through Shannon at Oireachtas Committee Meeting

Shannonwatch called today on the government to explain why information received by the Gardai about rendition planes at Shannon Airport was not followed up on. In a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions they said that over one hundred complaints and requests to search suspect aircraft had been made between 2003 and 2013, none of which were properly addressed. They also reiterated their calls for an end to the US military use of Shannon, and for full disclosure of all agreements made with the US authorities in relation to this use.

Shannonwatch made a number of recommendations to the Oireachtas Committee, including that the government should establish an independent and impartial inquiry into the use of Shannon in the CIA's illegal renditions programme. "This inquiry should examine the reasons for the failure to inspect suspect rendition aircraft. And the outcome of the inquiry should be made public" said John Lannon who was part of the Shannonwatch delegation that addressed the Oireachtas Committee.

Garda Reports of Instructions Not to Search Rendition Planes Need to be Clarified

Recent disturbing revelations in relation to the behaviour of Garda management and the Minister for Justice give new significance to statements made by members of An Garda Siochana about instructions not to search suspected CIA rendition and US military aircraft at Shannon Airport.

Over the last eight years, Gardai of various ranks have told members of Shannonwatch that an "instruction" or "policy decision" or "letter of advice" has existed in relation to the searching of these aircraft.

In 2006, in a conversation with a member of Shannonwatch, a detective superintendent referred to a "letter of advice" from the Attorney General to the Garda Commissioner that US military and CIA associated aircraft at Shannon were not to be searched. Again on 30th October 2007, at Shannon Airport, an officer informed the same Shannonwatch member that Gardaí at Shannon had been instructed by the Attorney General not to search US military or CIA associated aircraft at the airport.

D’Arcy Says Minister Should Stop Defending the Indefensible

Imprisoned peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy has reiterated her assertion that Shannon Airport's runway is being used improperly for the purposes of war, and has called on the Minister for Defence Alan Shatter to stop defending the indefensible military use of the airport. Speaking to John Lannon and Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch this Monday, she said that the State has a responsibility to ensure the proper use of the airport and to protect it against security threats.

"The fact that Niall Farrell and I could walk out onto the runway at Shannon demonstrates that it is not secure." said Ms D'Arcy. "The military use of the airport presents grave risks to the people in the airport or living nearby, as well as being in contravention of international laws and against the wishes of the majority of Irish people".

Shannonwatch Protests in Support of Jailed Peace Activist Margaretta D'Arcy

The peace and human rights organisation Shannonwatch have joined with others to hold regular weekly demonstrations outside Limerick Prison until such time as jailed activist Margaretta D'Arcy is released. These will be held from 5pm to 6pm every Friday evening.

"Margaretta D'Arcy is not a war criminal. Nor is she a human rights abuser, or the commander of an invading army" said Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon "But she has spent many years drawing attention to the fact that these type of people pass through Shannon Airport regularly. The legally and morally correct response from the Irish police would be to investigate this complicity in wrongdoing at Shannon. Instead they imprisoned 79 year old Margaretta because she wouldn't promise to stay away from the airport".

Minister Makes More Excuses for the Failure to Search US Aircraft at Shannon

The Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter has claimed that the Garda Síochána has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft at Shannon or other airports because they enjoy sovereign immunity. In effect this means that the government allows the US military to take whatever or whoever they want through Ireland, regardless of the human rights, security and other consequences.

The statement was made in response to Clare Daly TD who asked the Minister whether or not the Government or the Garda Commissioner has instructed Gardaí at Shannon not to search US military aircraft, or chartered aircraft transporting US troops, or aircraft associated with the CIA.

According to Minister Shatter the Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions, and these apply to aircraft as much as to any other type of private property.  

He was talking here about civilian as opposed to military aircraft.