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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.

Shannon Vigil To Mark 10th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

Representatives of Veterans for Peace from USA, UK and Ireland will attend a Peace Vigil at Shannon Airport on Sunday next 10 March from 2pm to 3pm. The vigil marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the US-led war of aggression against Iraq, which was in contravention of the UN Charter.

Veterans for Peace was founded in the USA in 1985, in opposition to US military intervention in Central America, and now has over 8000 members. Its objectives include bringing about a clearer understanding of the cost of war, in particular the US-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, to close the School of the Americas and to counter military recruitment efforts in schools. They have also undertaken significant humanitarian projects in war zones such as Iraq and campaigns against torture. In 2011 a chapter of Veterans for Peace was formed in the UK, on the initiative of Ben Griffin, and in 2012 Veterans for Peace Ireland was initiated.

War and Human Rights Abuse Are Not in the DNA of Shannon

Last week the chairman of the Shannon Airport Authority (SAA), Rose Hynes revealed that Shannon Airport was not just willing to accommodate US military flights but that it was actively going after what she called ‘important’ and 'lucrative' US military traffic. Shannonwatch are dismayed by this admission that the Irish government, which owns the airport, has completely abandoned the notion of Irish neutrality and is planning continued participation in US wars of aggression.

Shannonwatch believe the SAA chairman’s statement also reflects an unacceptable level of greed for short term income regardless of the consequences. “Estimates indicate that over one million people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the troops started coming through Shannon a decade ago. Like many others, Ms Hynes is clearly more than willing to profit from these deaths and to be part of an economy built on permanent global warfare” said John LAnnon, spokesperson for Shannonwatch.

Launch of New Booklet on Shannon Airport, War and Renditions

A new booklet entitled “Shannon Airport, War and Renditions” is being launched on Friday 12th October at 11am in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin. The booklet, which is been jointly published by Shannonwatch, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), outlines the legal instruments being violated as a result of US military and CIA use of Shannon. It covers aviation, human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the ongoing failure to respect Ireland’s history of neutrality.
 
According to the booklet’s author John Lannon, the publication is an important timely reminder of the extent to which Shannon Airport has contributed to suffering and human rights abuse for over a decade. “The consistent disregard for national and international laws has meant that Shannon has been directly involved in the suffering and death of innocent people - from men tortured in Guantanamo Bay, to children in Afghanistan who are injured or orphaned by airstrikes and roadside bombs.”
 

Gardai Claim No Breaches of International or National Law at Shannon

In March 2011 Shannonwatch called on An Garda Síochána to review a large body of information which they presented in relation to suspect CIA and US military flights through Shannon Airport. They also called on them to provide a comprehensive report on the actions that will be taken to ensure Ireland complies with its international legal obligations. The information was delivered in two wheelbarrows to the Garda Station in Shannon on 18th March 2011.

On 14th August 2012, after seventeen months, Shannonwatch finally received a response from the Gardai. It was a brief half-page letter that simply said “No evidence has been uncovered by the Gardai which indicate [sic] any alleged breach of Irish & International laws resulting from the transit of armed U.S. troops & CIA associated aircraft in connection with wars and military aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and in connection with unlawful detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo prison and elsewhere".

Troop Numbers Down at Shannon but Irish Support for US Wars Goes On

The number of US troops passing through Shannon Airport has dropped since the start of 2012. Shannonwatch investigations have revealed that the number of troop carriers using the airport is down, and the Minister for Transport has confirmed that only 45,000 troops passed through between January and April. This is an average of less than 12,000 a month, which is considerably lower that the monthly average of 20,000 in 2011.

Shannonwatch stress that the drop in US troop movements through Shannon is not because of any efforts by the Irish government to restore the country’s neutrality, or to respect international law and human rights. It simply reflects changes to the US military’s air mobility arrangements and does not reduce Irish complicity in unjust wars in any way.