Edward Horgan to Appear in Ennis Court for Attempting to Inspect US Military Planes at Shannon

Shannonwatch and Veterans for Peace member Edward Horgan will appear in Ennis District Court tomorrow, Friday April 15th, to answer a charge that he entered a part of Shannon Airport to which persons were not permitted, contrary to airport byelaws. Dr Horgan was attempting to do what the authorities have repeatedly refused to do, which is to inspect US military aircraft in order to establish if they were in breach of international laws at Shannon.

On April 18th 2015, Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London when he saw four US Hercules C-130 turboprop aircraft lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was about to board. Knowing that the Gardaí were almost certainly not going to search them or to inform the public of the nature of these plane's reasons for being at Shannon, he felt compelled to search them.

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.

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."

Shannonwatch Demands the Immediate Release of Mick Wallace TD

Mick Wallace, an independent, democratically elected public representative in Ireland's first house of Parliament, has been arrested and will be brought to Limerick Prison. The reason for his arrest was his attempt, along with Clare Daly TD, to inspect US military planes at Shannon. As his actions were undertaken entirely in the pursuit of peace, Shannonwatch calls for his immediate release.

"Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have spent years trying to get answers from Government Ministers about the US military planes passing through Shannon" said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). "They have demanded inspection of these planes in parliament, and as a result they were told to bring evidence to the Minister to support their demands. All they did was to try to get that evidence."

Shannon Needs a Mass Confession Event for Its Complicity in War And Human Rights Abuse

The initiative of local priests to hear confessions in Shannon Town Shopping Centre on December 8th should be extended to ask for forgiveness for Shannon's 15 year complicity in war and human rights abuse, said Shannonwatch in a statement today.

The official number of US military personnel that have passed through the airport in the last decade and a half is almost 2.5 million. When the undocumented troops on US Air Force and Navy planes are taken into consideration this number is much higher. In addition, over 20 known or suspect rendition planes used the airport repeatedly without any attempt to stop or even inspect the planes.

"The injustices and crimes that have been perpetrated by torturers and war criminals who have passed through the airport is a sin of global proportions" said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "We commend the local priests for giving people the opportunity to make their peace with God. But the town of Shannon needs to begin by making peace, not war, on earth."

Did Aircraft that Bombed Hospital in Kunduz Pass Through Ireland?

Reports indicate that the horrific bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan by the US Air Force may have been carried out by one of their AC-130 aircraft. Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to immediately investigate and clarify if the aircraft involved passed through Shannon Airport or Irish airspace on its way to Afghanistan.

"The US hit a very large hospital full of wounded patients", said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. "They killed 22 people, including 3 children, and they continued to bomb the hospital for 30 minutes after MSF had informed the US military that the hospital was under attack. This would appear to be a war crime, and it is one that Ireland may be implicated in."

"The US aircraft that carried out this bombing may well have been authorised by the Irish Government to land and refuel at Shannon Airport, or fly through Irish airspace when it was being deployed to Afghanistan" said Mr Horgan.

Extent of Shannon and Ireland’s Complicity in War Revealed

The Department of Transport has revealed that in 2014 a total of 272 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport. In response to a freedom of information request by Shannonwatch they confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East. The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace. Again the majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.

The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. Close to twenty requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused. It would only state that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Shannon Air Show Ignores Airport’s Involvement in War

As Shannon Airport prepares to stage an air show on July 18th to celebrate its achievements in the world of aviation, peace groups in Ireland issue a reminder that its recent history is not one to be proud of. Since 2001 the airport has been used by the US military as a gateway to wars in the Middle East. These wars have resulted in the death of innocent men, women and children, left millions of people homeless, and destroyed communities and entire countries.

"While it is fitting to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight from Shannon Airport and to acknowledge its important role in aviation in Ireland, we cannot ignore the fact that in the last 15 years it has been used to illegally invade Iraq and Afghanistan and has been part of the CIA's global campaign of kidnapping and torture" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch.

"Shannon became the original airport gateway between the US and Europe and was the birthplace of Duty Free. It is now a gateway to human suffering and war." added Mr Lannon.

Shannonwatch Appalled at Court Decision to Convict Mick Wallace and Clare Daly

Shannonwatch are appalled at today's decision by a court in Ennis to convict TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly for their attempts to search a US military plane at Shannon. The two TDs were given two maximum €1000 fines each by Judge Durkan, despite the overwhelming evidence to support their case that they had no alternative but to do what they did.

"The court accepted without qualification the knowledge and expertise of the witnesses who outlined serious breaches of neutrality and other laws at Shannon." said Clare Daly. "And let's remember the details of this evidence as presented to the court. There was evidence of guns on military planes, of soldiers going to war through a country that claims to be neutral, of CIA rendition planes, and of ongoing refusals to inspect these planes. The judge accepted that Mick and I have been obstructed, sidetracked and ignored in our efforts to discover the truth about Shannon. Yet in sentencing us he took an extremely narrow view of the law. He effectively admitted that his hands were tied, and he refused to deal with all the evidence presented to him."

US Military Plane Inspection Attempt at Shannon Because of Lack of Oversight by Authorities

Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace and Shannonwatch was detained at Shannon Airport last Saturday morning (April 18th) as a result of his attempt to search one of four US military Hercules C-130s at the airport. Speaking after being released by the Gardai, he said his action was a result of the failure of the Irish Government and the Gardaí to take steps to ensure that US military aircraft at Shannon are not acting in breach of international laws or Irish neutrality.

Dr Horgan was about to board a flight to London to attend the AGM of Veterans for Peace UK when he saw the Hercules aircraft nearby. He walked over towards the aircraft and he approached the first Hercules C130 he was stopped by an airport security officer. "I explained to him that I wished to search the four aircraft but he prevented me from doing so" said Dr Horgan. "He was then joined by other members of the airport police and I was taken to the terminal building where I was handed over to a Garda Immigration officer".