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Abolition of Seanad could Pose Increased Dangers for Peace & Neutrality Issues Say Campaigners

Irish neutrality is once again a referendum issue as a number of prominent Peace and Neutrality campaigners come together to call for No vote on the amendment to abolish the Seanad. The group includes retired Army Commandant Edward Horgan, peace campaigner John Lannon of Shannonwatch, Professor John Maguire of UCC, Galway Councillor Catherine Connolly, Galway Alliance Against War activist Niall Farrell and former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna.  In a letter issued to national newspapers today the group warns of the negative impact Seanad abolition could have for the peace and neutrality agenda.

John Lannon of Shannonwatch warned that the abolition of the Seanad will make the adoption of EU decisions and legislation easier for a government that is determined to do so, even if those decisions are inconsistent with the stated views of the Irish people. Edward Horgan stressed that abolishing the Seanad will eliminate the chance of ever establishing a reformed institution that could scrutinise future EU military issues and will make it less problematic for Enda Kenny and his successors to pass controversial legislation.

New Red C Poll Shows that Irish People Want Neutrality

Over three quarters of Irish people believe Ireland should have a policy of neutrality according to a new Red C poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). The poll also shows that roughly 8 out of 10 people believe Ireland should not support military intervention in Syria without a UN mandate.

According to Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon these findings seriously undermine government policy. "The government has got to realise now that allowing the U.S. military to use Shannon Airport is unacceptable. It was never sanctioned by the Irish people, and clearly it is something that people don't want.

Number of U.S. Military Aircraft at Shannon Raises Concerns

Shannonwatch have called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to clarify the significance of several U.S. troop carriers and other military aircraft at Shannon Airport in the run-up to what might well be a U.S. led attack on Syria. As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to look for support for an attack that would have serious repercussions for the Syrian people and the region as a whole, the organisation calls on the Irish government to make its opposition clear by immediately ending the U.S. military use of the airport.

In the last week Shannonwatch recorded 14 U.S. military aircraft as well as four troop carriers at Shannon Airport. The military aircraft included Hercules C-130s operated by the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and two KC-10s. The KC-10 is a military version of the DC-10 and is used by the U.S. Air Force for transport and aerial refuelling. The presence of the KC-10s at Shannon could indicate that other US military aircraft are being refuelled in or near Irish airspace. 

Sunrise to Sunset Fast for Guantanamo Prisoners at Shannon

A one day solidarity fast is being organised at Shannon Airport on Saturday 7th September in support of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. The fast will run from sunrise (6.45am) to sunset (8pm), and members of the public are invited to join in for some or all of the fast. The event is being organised by Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War.

"A total of 164 prisoners still remain at the notorious US-run Guantanamo Bay prison" said Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon. "Many of them have been detained for over 11 years without any contact with their families. They have not faced trial for any crimes. They have been bound, beaten and made to suffer extremes of temperature. They have been denied justice, first under President George W. Bush, and now under President Barack Obama".

"As Shannon Airport was one of the stops used by the aircraft that kidnapped and brought these men to Guantanamo, it is particularly appropriate that they should be remembered at the airport. For that reason the fast is being held there as a small symbolic sacrifice to draw attention to their plight and to Shannon's shameful role in putting them there".

TDs Join Protest Against US Military Use of Shannon

As part of the ongoing response to the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the US military, Shannonwatch are holding a vigil outside the airport from 2pm to 3pm on Sunday June 9th. The vigil will be attended by independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who will call for government action in line with its stated commitment to international law and Irish neutrality.

Minister Gilmore Claims that US Military Flights through Shannon are Not on Military Operations

In a statement that seems to defy logic, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamonn Gilmore claimed this week that none of the 548 US military aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport in 2012 were carrying arms, ammunition or explosives. He also claimed there was no evidence to suggest they were involved in military exercises or operations.

According to John Lannon of Shannonwatch who monitor military traffic through the airport, it is extremely unlikely that this is the case. "When US President Barack Obama visited Ireland in June 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny assured him of a no-change policy in respect of the use of Shannon by the US military. That policy included the airport's use in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which were most certainly military operations" said Mr. Lannon.

Retired US Army Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright ralso expressed doubts about the Minister's statement. "I have never heard of any such US military flights where there were not armed personnel, at least for securing the plane," said Col. Wright.