Mayor of Limerick Needs to Rethink his Strategy for Shannon Airport

In light of media reports that the Fine Gael Mayor of Limerick Jim Long welcomes the continued presence of US troops at Shannon Airport, Shannonwatch urge him and all local politicians in the mid-West to develop a more sustainable and enlightened strategy for the airport. Business that leads to ongoing human rights abuses, the bombing of civilians, and the widespread suffering of children in Afghanistan is not good business.

The Mayor’s comments made no reference to foreign policy or Irish neutrality, but instead seem to be based on the belief that the troops are a “lifeline to the airport”. He was responding to the passing of a motion by Dublin City Council supporting calls to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by the US military. According to the reports he sees this as an attempt “to downsize and downgrade Shannon”. In fact the motion proposed the exact opposite, as it called for the airport to be established as an international hub for the storage and distribution of emergency humanitarian supplies. This has the potential to provide a much more sustainable future for the airport, while promoting peace and development instead of conflict and suffering.

Dublin City Council Opposes Use of Shannon Airport by US Troops

Shannonwatch welcomes the passing of a motion by Dublin City Council supporting calls to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops. The motion which was proposed by Cllr. Larry O’Toole of Sinn Fein at the request of PANA (the Peace and Neutrality Alliance) states

“That this Council supports the Irish Peace Movement’s campaign to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and calls for Shannon Airport to be established an an international hub for the storage and distribution of emergency humanitarian supplies as outlined in the Programme for Government”

Torture Doesn't Matter Any More it Seems

Two things that happened this week demonstrate the Irish state's ongoing acceptance of torture. The first was a written correspondence we received from a Department of Justice and Equality official stating that assertions of complicity in torture did not warrant inclusion in a major human rights report. The second was a prime time interview on the state broadcaster, RTE, in which the U.S. use of waterboarding was presented unchallenged.

Gardai Out in Force at Shannon - But Not to Search Planes

10 Guards, six activists - and a dog

Activists get accustomed to the presence of police at or near their demonstrations. But today's unnecessary presence of Gardai (police) at Shannon - where they outnumbered peaceful protestors by two to one - seemed strange and unnecessary. It was not a once off occurrance though; we've been holding peaceful vigils on the second Sunday of every month for three and a half years but in the last few months the state's reaction has become much more heavy handed. Is it coincidental that there has been a more determined effort to impede peaceful opposition to Shannon Airport's role in U.S. military and CIA operations since the present government and Minister for Justice took office?

Irish Government Fails Once Again to Acknowledge Ireland's Role in Renditions

Shannonwatch is disappointed, but not surprised, that the Irish Government has missed yet another opportunity to address violations of human rights at Shannon Airport, given that they are knowingly in breach of human rights there. Ireland’s National Report under the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review process which was published this week fails to even mention the repeated use of Shannon by U.S. rendition aircraft and their crews, or the ongoing movement of troops and weapons through the airport and Irish airspace without investigation of their possible involvement in war crimes. Complicity in torture, which has been happening at Shannon, is a serious breach of human rights and of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Under the UPR process the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States are reviewed every four years. Ireland's record will be reviewed for the first time in October of this year, and as a result the government has now submitted its blinkered report to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Shannonwatch Recommendations to the Universal Periodic Review of Ireland's Human Rights Record

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a United Nations process whereby the domestic human rights records of all 192 Member States are reviewed every four years. Ireland’s first review under UPR will take place on 6 October 2011. It will be the first time that Ireland’s human rights record is reviewed by other UN Member States, rather than expert groups such as the UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies. [For more information on the UPR see www.upr-info.org].

Shannonwatch have submitted a report to the UPR process which addresses two main areas of concern. These are Ireland’s role in the U.S. rendition programme and the transit of munitions, weapons and armed soldiers through Irish airspace and territory. In addition to Ireland’s human rights obligations, it recognises the State’s responsibilities as outlined in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international humanitarian law, and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.