Ireland Should Respond to Charlie Hebdo Attacks by Ending its Support for Wars Linked to Terrorism

As Europe comes to terms with the recent brutal acts of violence in Paris, Shannonwatch calls for measured and responsible responses from governments, religious leaders and others in positions of influence. In keeping with this call, their monthly peace vigil at Shannon Airport this Sunday 11th January called for an end to the US military use of the airport and demonstration of a more positive neutrality from Ireland.

"We unequivocally condemn the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices and the killings that took place in Paris in the past week" said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "There is no justification for such violence".

"Incidents of extreme and unjustified violence, combined with discrimination and racism, are occurring with increasingly regularity in societies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Western world. The atrocities committed in France the most recent example but there has also been a significant increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia across Europe, as well as anti-Christian attacks and persecution associated with conflicts in several Middle Eastern states".

Ministers who had Concerns about CIA Renditions and Shannon Must Help Address past Mistakes

Shannonwatch note the concerns that two former Irish ministers had in relation to the CIA's torture and renditions programme, as reported in the Irish Times of 22 December (2014). The Ministers in question are Dermot Ahern who was Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Michael McDowell who was Minister for Justice, when a report by Dick Marty for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe identified Ireland and Shannon as a CIA stop-over point. Nonetheless they failed to take decisive action at the time, other than to ask the US government if they were taking prisoners through Shannon.

Given what they now know about the brutal and systematic nature of CIA torture, former ministers Ahern and McDowell should now reveal the full extent of their concerns, and enable a proper investigation of the CIA's use of Shannon Airport to get under way.

US Senate Report on CIA Torture Shows its Time for the Irish Government to Act

Shannonwatch are appalled at the shocking revelations about CIA torture of detainees in the US Senate intelligence committee report released on Tuesday Dec 9th. Details of the methods used, the extent of the torture and the scale of lies and deceit from a government agency are even worse than was already known. Ireland's complicity has already been documented by other reports, but given this new information it is now well past time for a full investigation of the role played by Shannon in the brutal and illegal interrogation undertaken by the CIA in the past decade.

"Since George Bush authorised the use of torture after 9/11, Shannon Airport has been a part of the global torture networks operated by the CIA" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. "This has been well documented by a range of international bodies but yet the Department of Foreign Affairs continue to pretend Ireland is not implicated in rendition or torture. They base this on assurances from the US government that no prisoners were transported through Irish territory. But we know now that the CIA and the US government lied about their torture programme."

Court Summons for TDs who Attempted to Do What the Gardai Should be Doing

Shannonwatch have expressed their disappointment that the State has decided to summons TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to appear before Ennis District Court on Wednesday December 3rd for peace actions, while at the same time failing to investigate complaints made about US military and other aircraft that may be in breach of international law.

The two TDs are charged with climbing the perimeter fence of Shannon Airport on 22nd July 2014, and with entering a part of the airport that they did not have permission to be in. The two deputies are adamant that they did not commit any offence however, and that they were simply there to do what the authorities would not do, which was to inspect two US military aircraft that may have been carrying weapons illegally.

Shannonwatch Welcomes Oireachtas Petitions Committee Visit to Shannon

Shannonwatch welcomes the visit to Shannon Airport by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. The visit which took place on October 2nd was a follow-up to a petition by Shannonwatch earlier this year. The petition called for the Government to investigate the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace for the transit of US armed troops, munitions and other war material, as well as for the refuelling of CIA-associated aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition.

During their visit to Shannon, representatives of the Committee met with members of the Gardai including Chief Superintendent John Kerin and with airport officials before meeting again with Shannonwatch. They were informed that about 40,000 US troops had gone through Shannon so far this year. However Shannonwatch understands that airport officials said that US troops were not essential to the economics of Shannon Airport as they contribute relatively little, and that civilian passengers contribute far more with shopping, car parking and so on.

Local Organisations Call on Mayor of Boston to Help Restore Irish Neutrality

The mid-West based human rights organisation Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War welcome the visit of the Mayor of Boston Marty J Walsh, whose parents both come from Connemara, to Shannon and to Ireland. As he arrives into Shannon Airport this Friday morning (19th September) to commence a ten day trip to his ancestral Galway home, they urge him to use his influence to end the unnecessary and counterproductive transit of US troops through the same civilian airport that welcomes him.

"Friendship between the peoples of Ireland and the United States is very important to all concerned and we welcome back the son of Irish parents who were among hundreds of thousands forced to emigrate due to the very flawed economic and social policies pursued by successive Irish Governments up to the present time." said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch.

Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War remind Mayor Walsh that this Irish/United States friendship has been seriously damaged in recent years as a result of the transit of armed US troops and CIA rendition aircraft through Shannon Airport in breach of international laws on neutrality and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Call for Irish Government to Ensure No Ammunition Supplies to Israel Through Ireland

In recent days the US Department of Defence has confirmed the supply of more ammunition to Israel, despite its ongoing indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza. This will almost certainly result in more carnage and suffering, as Israel continues to use its military might against the captive Palestinian population. Many of the military airlift contractors that are likely to supply this ammunition pass through Shannon Airport regularly. It is vitally important that the Irish authorities do everything they can to ensure these carriers are not assisting the Israeli attacks on Gaza. That includes inspection of contracted US military aircraft, and an end to the granting of permits to take weapons and munitions through Shannon Airport.

Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch welcomes attempts by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon earlier today. At a time when the airport may be helping to supply the weapons used by Israel to kill and main civilians in Gaza, it is vitally important that we have proper oversight of what is on the military planes at the airport. Despite repeated requests the authorities refuse to search the planes to ensure they are not in breach of international law.  

"We are being told repeatedly that there is no proof there are illegal weapons on the planes" said Mick Wallace. "It is nonsense to suggest that none of them are involved in military operations or that there are no weapons on board these planes, which is what the government says. But because the authorities won't search the planes to find out if that is the case, people like us have to do it."

Shannonwatch Call for Investigation of Rendition Flights Through Shannon at Oireachtas Committee Meeting

Shannonwatch called today on the government to explain why information received by the Gardai about rendition planes at Shannon Airport was not followed up on. In a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions they said that over one hundred complaints and requests to search suspect aircraft had been made between 2003 and 2013, none of which were properly addressed. They also reiterated their calls for an end to the US military use of Shannon, and for full disclosure of all agreements made with the US authorities in relation to this use.

Shannonwatch made a number of recommendations to the Oireachtas Committee, including that the government should establish an independent and impartial inquiry into the use of Shannon in the CIA's illegal renditions programme. "This inquiry should examine the reasons for the failure to inspect suspect rendition aircraft. And the outcome of the inquiry should be made public" said John Lannon who was part of the Shannonwatch delegation that addressed the Oireachtas Committee.

Garda Reports of Instructions Not to Search Rendition Planes Need to be Clarified

Recent disturbing revelations in relation to the behaviour of Garda management and the Minister for Justice give new significance to statements made by members of An Garda Siochana about instructions not to search suspected CIA rendition and US military aircraft at Shannon Airport.

Over the last eight years, Gardai of various ranks have told members of Shannonwatch that an "instruction" or "policy decision" or "letter of advice" has existed in relation to the searching of these aircraft.

In 2006, in a conversation with a member of Shannonwatch, a detective superintendent referred to a "letter of advice" from the Attorney General to the Garda Commissioner that US military and CIA associated aircraft at Shannon were not to be searched. Again on 30th October 2007, at Shannon Airport, an officer informed the same Shannonwatch member that Gardaí at Shannon had been instructed by the Attorney General not to search US military or CIA associated aircraft at the airport.