Shannon Airport, Drones and Jordan

At Shannon Airport this morning a US Navy, C40 Clipper aircraft number 6694 was being protected by an Irish army patrol. The aircraft is part of a Fleet Logistics Squadron based in Virginia, and its not its first time at Shannon.

We don't know what this aircraft was transporting, but we can be sure it was being operated by US Navy personnel as crew members, and it was either going to or from a military operation or military exercise of some sort, in clear contravention of US and Irish Government assurances that all such US military aircraft are not engaged in military operations, or military exercises, and not carrying any weapons or munitions of any sort.

Election Candidates Take a Stand on Irish Foreign Policy

A total of 116 candidates have committed to restoring Ireland's neutrality in response to a Peace Pledge drafted by the main peace and anti-war groups in Ireland. These candidates have said they will only support or join a Government that is prepared to end the US military use of Shannon Airport.

"This is a very important commitment in terms of Ireland's foreign policy" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch, one of the organisations behind the Peace Pledge. "It is also in line with the wishes of the Irish people. Polls consistently show that over two thirds of the population want a neutral Ireland that is not involved in wars of aggression or occupation. But by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base we are contributing to war and human rights abuse. The next government must end this practice and restore Irish neutrality."

All 50 Sinn Fein candidates are committed to supporting the Peace Pledge as are the Anti Austerity Alliance / People before Profit and the Workers Party. A number of candidates from the Green Party, Social Democrats and other parties, as well as Independents, have also signed up.

Many Reasons to be Worried about National Air Cargo Presence at Shannon

On February 14th Shannonwatch recorded a Boeing 747-428BCF ("Boeing Converted Freighter") operated by National Air Cargo Group parked at Stand 42 at Shannon Airport. On Monday it left for the US Air Force Force Base at Dover. This is located in Delaware and is home to part of the US Air Force Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command.

We know that National operates flights on behalf of the US military. Under information obtained from the Department of Transport through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests we know they took troops and weapons through Shannon 13 times in 2014, and were given a permit to take an aircraft with cartridges and small arms through Irish airspace in January of that year.

Has Shannon Airport been Handed Over Fully to the US Military?

At noon today, Saturday 6th February, there were no scheduled civilian aircraft delivering or collecting passengers at Shannon Airport. It is starting to look like a deserted World War II airfield; there was one chartered executive jet being refuelled, and one US warplane. The latter was a US Navy C40, and it was being protected by Irish army and Garda patrol cars.

Shannonwatch member Edward Horgan went to Shannon Garda Station at 12.25 pm and handed in the following written statement:

Election Candidates Asked to Pledge Themselves to Peace

Five organisations have come together to call on general election candidates to commit to ending the US military use of Shannon Airport. In a joint initiative, Shannonwatch, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) and Veterans for Peace (VfP) Ireland are all calling for candidates and parties to bar military traffic from any country involved in war from landing on Irish soil or from using Irish airspace.

Launching the Peace Pledge initiative, John Lannon of Shannonwatch said: "Since October 2001, Ireland has provided direct support for unilateral military interventions by the US and its NATO allies, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. This support has included the transit of at least 2.5 million armed troops plus additional military aircraft through Shannon Airport. Given the devastation caused by these and other US/NATO military interventions, it is time to stop supporting them."

Petitions Committee Report Fails to Reflect Seriousness of Shannonwatch Submission

Over 3 years ago Shannonwatch submitted a Petition to the The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on the issue of US Military and CIA use of Shannon airport. The wheels of government work slowly, and the Committee issued its final report today. The full report can be viewed here.

The Committee, and in particular to Chairperson, Pádraig MacLochlainn TD, did quite a comprehensive investigation into the petition, including meeting with a delegation from Shannonwatch that included Edward Horhgan, John Lannon and Margaretta D'Arcy at Leinster House, and a further series of meetings at Shannon Airport with representatives of An Garda Siochana, Shannon airport authority and Edward Horgan on behalf of Shannonwatch.