President Obama's Visit to Ireland is Not Something To Celebrate

As Ireland prepares to welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to its shores, we should remember that he is the active commander in chief of a military that has engaged in prolonged and unjust wars and violated international law.  He has reneged on his clear and unequivocal promise to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre. In using Shannon Airport as a transit depot for his military and CIA activities he has colluded with successive Irish governments to continue our complicity in human rights abuse, to undermine our proud record as peacekeepers, and to erode Irish neutrality.  Instead of welcoming him with open arms, the Irish government should be addressing the shameful decline in Irish foreign policy standards. In particular they should immediately end U.S. military use of Shannon Airport.

President Obama and US troops in Shannon Airport: Support Our Campaign

Since 2001 the Peace & Neutrality Alliance (PANA) has campaigned against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.

On the 23rd of May President Obama is visiting Ireland. PANA and its member organisations, including Shannonwatch, are using the visit to highlight international support for their campaign. They are inviting organisations around the world to confirm their support by adding their signature to this statement:

We support 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

So far 51 organisations have signed up ...

Shannon Protests Continue

Activists brave the harsh weather at Shannon

Despite the wind and rain, a group of 15 people turned out on Sunday 8th May at Shannon to protest against the ongoing U.S. military use of the airport. People traveled from Galway, Cork, Dublin and other parts of the country to join with locals for the regular monthly event.  For this they all deserve great credit and thanks.

The number of U.S. military flights through Shannon increased in April after a fall off in the previous months. At least 10 Hercules landings during the month, the biggest number since last November. The number of executive jets operated by the U.S. military and/or navy that passed through Shannon was also up in April. It is not known if any of these increases were linked to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden Assassination and the Implications for Ireland

So we are now assured that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Barack Obama is celebrating the killing of a man his predecessor George W. Bush went after ten years ago, and euphoric claims of mission accomplished ring across the U.S. From what we know of Bin Laden, the world is a safer place without him being free to terrorise it. But his death is unlikely to be a case of mission accomplished, as terrorism does not end with the killing of one man. And the corporatised wars being waged by the U.S. are unlikely to end.

Maintaining a Veil of Silence

Image from Vitalink

The veil of silence that surrounds the U.S. military and CIA use of Shannon Airport is highlighted in a recent article in National Security Watch. It says

The private Dublin Airport Authority, which owns and runs the airport, will not discuss America’s use of the airport and refers all press queries to the Irish government.  The Irish government refuses to comment or answer any questions in writing. The U.S. government will not respond to written questions about American involvement in Shannon submitted to it.

Irish Government Still has a Lot of Work to Do to Understand the U.S. Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan

On 30th March of this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in the Dáil (Irish parliament) that "The President [of the U.S.] was grateful for the opportunity to thank us for allowing transit through Shannon Airport and the use of the facility there in accordance with the United Nations’ agreement and resolution." He was responding to a question from Joe Higgins TD (Socialist Party/United Left Alliance) who asked him if President Obama haid said anything to the Taoiseach about the use of Shannon Airport by the US Air Force, and the facilitation by the Irish State of the US armies of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, during their meeting on March 17th.

It seems nobody has told our Irish government leader that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were not authorised by United Nations resolutions. They were illegal.