Shannon Airport Still Supporting War

On last Sunday (April 8th) a small group of people opposed to the US military use of Shannon Airport held a peace vigil outside, under the careful watch of the Gardai who blocked their entry into the airport. Meanwhile, inside the airport a small US Air Force C-21 jet sat at the terminal building. It too had Gardai in close proximity, but in this case they appeared to be providing protection, not surveillance or obstruction.

Breakdown of Military Flights Through Shannon and Irish Airspace in 2017

For a foreign military aircraft to land at an Irish airport or even to pass through Irish airspace, permission must be granted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2017 his department received 515 requests for landings by military aircraft at airports in Ireland. Of the 515 landing requests received, 1 was refused and 15 were cancelled. The vast majority of these (451) were for military aircraft landing at Shannon Airport.

Of the 451 military aircraft landings at Shannon in 2017, 402 were US military aircraft.

A small number of permits were issued to military aircraft from other countries as follows: Bahrain (1), Belgium (3), Canada (5), Egypt (3), France (17), Germany (3), Italy (5), Jordan (7), Palestine Authority (2), Switzerland (1), Ukraine (1), and UK (1).

Almost Two US Troop Flights a Day through Shannon in January

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport statistics for January show that 55 flights with personal weapons of troops on board landed at Shannon Airport in January. That is over twice as many as for the same month in 2017. All these were granted exemptions to carry weapons under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 by the minister Shane Ross. In other words he approvel each and every one of the troop flights.

In 2017 the Department received 340 requests for US troop flights seeking to land at Shannon Airport. It granted 334 applications and refused six.

A further 24 flights were allowed to land in Ireland with munitions classified as dangerous goods on board. There were 21 flights by Irish registered aircraft not entering Irish airspace.

Shannonwatch Endorses Peace Platform Presented at Mansion House Conference

Shannonwatch endorse the following statement agreed at the end of a conference on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) held in the Mansion House, Dublin on February 17th. PESCO is the structural integration of armed forces of the European Union, which 25 of the 28 EU members, including Ireland, have signed up to.

The conference was organised by the People's Movement and PANA.

The People's Movement and PANA commit themselves to campaign for the State to immediately formally withdraw from all military and financial commitments under PESCO.

We are further agreed to campaign both collectively and individually for such a withdrawal.

We call on the support of local and national groups, organisations and elected representatives. We commit ourselves to work with all Oireachtas members that oppose PESCO and to encourage them to form an Oireachtas Group to further opposition within the Oireachtas and to provide permanent liaison.

We pledge ourselves to work with like-minded groups within the EU also committed to opposing the accelerated militarisation of the EU. Where possible we will seek to establish local peace groups to campaign for these objectives.

Shannon Airport Should Not Be Used To Cheer Troops On To War

Shannonwatch strongly condemns the facilitation of a meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and US troops at Shannon Airport on Saturday last. The use of the airport by foreign troops on their way to a war zone is in breach of Irish neutrality, and the decision to hold a public display of support for a foreign leader promoting war on Irish soil is dangerous and unwelcome. 

"Having diplomats and senior politicians transiting through Irish airports is not a normally a problem" said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. "But when they publicly insult Irish sovereignty by addressing troops on their way to war zones, it is unacceptable. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld addressed US troops at Shannon in February 2004, and US President GW Bush did the same in March 2006 without any protest by the Irish Government. The latest offender, US Vice President Pence, addressed US troops at Shannon last Saturday, again without a word of protest from the Irish government. Have they forgotten that we are an independent sovereign state, and not the 51st state of America?

Maltese Neutrality: A Historical and Comparative Analysis

The decision by the Irish Government in 2017 to join the EU's permanent structured military co-operation (PESCO) was a body blow to advocates of Irish neutrality and opponents of imperialist wars of aggression. There were only three EU countries who opted out: the United Kingdom, Denmark and Malta. The United Kingdom is in the process of leaving the EU, so their opt-out was inevitable; Denmark has a Protocol that excludes it from EU militarisation, but they are members of NATO, so are not a threat to the overall EU-NATO axis. This leaves Malta, with a population of just 0.08% of the EU total, as the sole genuine opponent of the EU-NATO axis.

In this paper from the Research Department of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) the history, legal context and current prospects of Malta' s neutrality, and what Ireland can learn from it, are outlined.