Another Booking Cancellation for Seminar on US Imperialism and Militarization

Shannonwatch are shocked and dismayed by another cancellation of their room booking for a seminar scheduled for Oct 8th. A number of international speakers are due to attend the seminar on US Imperialism & Militarization 15 Years after the Afghanistan Invasion, but as a result of room booking cancellations by three hotels in the Shannon and Bunratty area, new arrangements must now be made.

The Park Inn and the Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon, as well as the Bunratty Castle Hotel all initially accepted bookings for the seminar. Each then cancelled, claiming a mistake had been made. The most recent cancellation by the Bunratty Castle Hotel has come just 3 days before the event.

"It is beyond belief that three hotels would accept a booking and then discover they had no room available." said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "We spoke with each of them on more than one occasion. We discussed room layout, audio-visual facilities and refreshments with them. We even provided credit card details as requested. Yet all three cancelled our booking, and were adamant that alternative arrangements could not be made to accommodate us".

Foreign Affairs Refuse to Reveal Details of US Military Use of Shannon

 

Shannonwatch are gravely concerned by the ongoing refusal of the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide access to information about US military flights through Shannon.  Citing "the creation and maintenance of trust and confidence between governments" the department have said they will not provide records requested under freedom of information (FOI) because it would hamper the international relations of the State.

"It's impossible to see how making aircraft details public could affect our relations with the US, or any other state, if what they tell us about the planes not being engaged in military operations is true" said Clare Daly TD who made the FOI requests. "Since Ireland claims to be a neutral State we should not be allowing foreign military within our territory on the scale that is happening today. And we should certainly not be doing it without informing the Irish people of the details."

Agreement to Allow British Fighter Planes into Irish Airspace Further Erodes Neutrality

On Monday last it was revealed (Irish Examiner) that an agreement was reached some years ago between the Irish and British governments about protecting this country's airspace from terrorist threats. It appears that civil servants from the Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) entered into a bilateral agreement with British counterparts which would allow British Tornado fighter jets to shoot down aircraft in Irish airspace if they are hijacked by terrorists for a 9/11-style attack.

The agreement permits the British military to conduct armed operations in Irish sovereign or Irish-controlled airspace, and was taken without consultation with the army.

Shannonwatch are extremely concerned at this further erosion of Irish neutrality.

Case Against Peace Activist Edward Horgan Dismissed

Shannonwatch welcomes the dismissal of charges brought by the State against Edward Horgan at Ennis District Court today. The charges were a result of his attempt to inspect US military aircraft parked near the terminal building on April 18th 2015.

"Today's acquittal at Ennis District would was a small step in the right direction towards ending US military use of Shannon" said Dr Horgan. "This is just the latest in a series of trials of peace activists over their efforts to prevent complicity with war crimes at Shannon airport. This campaign will continue until Irish neutrality is restored, and Shannon airport is returned to proper civilian use only."

Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London on the day in question when he saw four US Hercules C-130 turboprop aircraft lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was boarding. Evidence to the court showed that he engaged in a "communicative protest" by walking towards the military planes to highlight the need to inspect them.

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.