Israeli Aircraft at Shannon

Airports all over the world continue to facilitate travel to and from Israel despite the country's ongoing systematic abuse of the Palestinian people and its refusal to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law. Unfortunately Shannon is no exception, as this photograph of an Arkia plane being towed to its stand on Friday 27th January shows.

Arkia is an Israeli airline that performs international charter flights as well as operating domestic flights. The plane spotted at Shannon was a B757, registration 4X-BAU. As it arrived at its stand, an airport police vehicle took up a position close to the aircraft - perhaps under instruction to protect the aircraft or the passengers on board.

Minister Leo Varadkar Expresses Support for US War Activities at Shannon

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar confirmed that his government wants to continue the use of Shannon Airport in US wars, and is even implementing new measures to facilitate failed and destructive American foreign policy. Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce business breakfast in Limerick on "Securing the Future of Shannon Airport", he responded to a question from Shannonwatch and PANA by confirming that quarter of a million troops a year come through the airport. He said America are our friends and that he wants to see the relationship continue. He even announced the opening of a new military pre-clearance facility at the airport.

Withdraw Irish Soldiers from Afghanistan before it’s too Late

Irish soldiers serving with NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan are increasingly in danger of being killed by Afghan soldiers, who are supposedly their allies. France is suspending its military operations in Afghanistan and may even withdraw from the NATO-led force after an Afghan soldier shot dead four French soldiers on 20 January 2012. Last December two French foreign legionnaires and one American were killed in similar shootings by Afghan soldiers. In 2009 an Afghan police officer shot and killed five British soldiers in Helmand.

It has subsequently emerged that the Afghan soldier responsible for the January 20 shooting was angry about a video that seemed to show US marines desecrating the bodies of Taliban insurgents.

Eamon Gilmore Misleads the Dail and the Irish People

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Eamon Gilmore made a number of misleading statements to the Dail today (23 January 2012) in response to questions by Mick Wallace TD. We would like to correct these statements.

Mr Gilmore stated: "There are no plans to change the arrangements for the overflight and landing of US military aircraft, which have been continuously in place under successive Governments for over 50 years."

This is incorrect. US military aircraft were allowed to refuel at Shannon over the past 50 years, but only if they were strictly unarmed, not carrying any munitions, not engaged in any war or even engaged in military training exercises. This was clearly established in Horgan v Ireland in the High Court on 28 April 2003.

Alarming Number of Munitions Flights through Shannon in 2011

Munitions of war were brought through Shannon Airport on almost 1200 planes in 2011 according to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar. The Minister also said that the number of US troops that passed through the airport during the year was "under 250,000" although he failed to say how much under. Nonetheless the figure indicates that an average of well over 600 foreign troops carrying dangerous weapons passed through Shannon every day in the 12 months up to 31st December.

The Department of Transport deals with requests to carry munitions of war or dangerous goods on civilian aircraft through Ireland or Irish airspace. This is in accordance with the Air Navigation, Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods Orders of 1973 and 1989. If weapons are being carried on board an aircraft the operator is obliged to seek an exemption from a long standing prohibition on their carriage. In 2011 the number of applications for such exemptions was 1393. A total of 1382 permits were issued, 86% of which were for planes landing at Shannon Airport.

Supporting US Wars Costs Ireland Over 4 Million Euro a Year

A report launched today by Shannonwatch shows that US military use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace costs the Irish state in excess of €4 million euro a year. This is as a result of the Garda policing arrangements at the airport, the use of the Defence Forces to provide additional security, and air traffic subsidies. When once-off costs are taken into account the figure is likely to be much higher.

The report shows that since 2006 the average annual cost of services provided by the Gardai at Shannon Airport is €2.3 million. This includes salaries and allowances, overtime, travel and subsistence expenses, and other non-pay expenditure.  The Irish Army is also deployed at Shannon to provide assistance in securing the airport. For this the Irish people have been paying an average of €285,000 a year since 2006.

Between 2003 and 2010 it has cost the Irish state a total of €25 million to cover the costs of foreign military aircraft using Irish-administered airspace. A large percentage of these flights are U.S. planes en route to war destinations in the Middle East and southwest Asia as well as other parts of Europe.