Easter Sunday at Shannon - More Warplanes, More Suffering

Its great that so many of us here in Ireland can enjoy Easter. Not so for many people across the Middle East at present. Over 100 people died yesterday in a terrorist attack on a convoy of busses trying to evacuate civilians from two towns held by the Syrian Government near Aleppo. The victims were mainly women and children and many were injured people in the process of being transferred to hospitals in Aleppo. The rebels who launched this suicide attack are most likely from one of the rebel groups supported and armed by the US and Turkey. We are unlikely to hear statements condemning this attack from US President Trump, or callS for a UN Security Council investigation.

Irish Neutrality is not Obsolete

In an article published in the Irish Times on April 8th, the paper's former foreign correspondent Patrick Smith claimed that the concept of neutrality was obsolete for Ireland. In a response published on April 14th John Maguire outlines why that is not the case. We reprint his excellent letter in full here.

Patrick Smyth declares Irish neutrality obsolete (Opinion 8th April 2017), a report which manages to be simultaneously old and false news.  Despite frequent P45s and applications of the last rites, neutrality just won't bow out.  Maybe one reason is that it is endorsed by 78% of Irish people (RedC, 2013).

Response to Freedom of Information Request Raises More Questions

In February of this year Shannonwatch lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for correspondence and records relating to a sample 12 US military contracted flights that landed at Shannon or flew through Irish airspace in October 2016. The flights were classified as civilian rather than military but they had US military charter call signs, and were operated by airlines that have "indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity" contracts to provide international airlift services to the US military (a full list of companies with contracts to provide international airlift services to the US military is available here). Four of the flights in the FOI request were Atlas Air flights; four were by MN Airlines LLC, operating as Sun Country Airlines; two were operated by Omni Air International; one by National Air Cargo; and one was a UPS Airlines flight.

A list of all 12 flights is provided at the end of this article.

In order to carry guns and/or ammunition these flights would have to seek and be granted an exemption under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. This is, in effect, a request to take munitions of war through Irish territory.

Review of Overflights and Landings by US Military Aircraft in Ireland is Long Overdue

US military aircraft at Shannon. April 9th 2016.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan has claimed that arrangements for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft at Irish airports and in Irish airspace are kept under ongoing review. There is little evidence of any review of the daily overflights and landings by the US military. But in light of the current ramping up of military aggression around the world by the US, including the illegal and counterproductive air strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, it is now time for an urgent review of our support for their military aggression.

US Warship that fired Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Baghdad on 20 March 2003 is now in Cobh

A US warship the USS Donald Cook has arrived in Cobh harbour today Tuesday 21st March. It is likely that it will be refuelled while in Cobh, but It is no more welcome in an Irish port, than the US war planes that are being refuelled at Shannon airport on a daily basis.

The USS Donald Cook is a destroyer, equipped with the following weapons (and probably much more besides).

"DONALD COOK's vertical launching system can launch long-range surface-to-surface Tomahawk cruise missiles, surface-to-air Standard missile variants, and anti-ballistic missile Standard missile variants. The 5-inch gun mount, 20-mm Phalanx mounts, and hull mounted crew-served weapons can engage surface, air, and land targets with precision."

"March 20, 2003, USS Donald Cook launched first Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), in the early morning hours, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom".

Another Day in Court for Colm Roddy

Colm Roddy was "up for mention" at Ennis District Court today as a result of efforts by himself and Dave Donnellan to search two US military aircraft at Shannon Airport almost one year ago. Judge Durcan, who last November had struck out the charges against Colm Roddy had initially forgotten his previous dismissal of these charges, and then when he remembered, sought more information from the prosecution about the DPP's decision to overturn Judge Durcan's ruling in November. Inspector Kennedy was not in court and the prosecuting inspector knww nothing of te case, so the matter was adjourned once again to Wed 26th April.

Full report from our Court correspondent ...