Abolition of Seanad could Pose Increased Dangers for Peace & Neutrality Issues Say Campaigners

Irish neutrality is once again a referendum issue as a number of prominent Peace and Neutrality campaigners come together to call for No vote on the amendment to abolish the Seanad. The group includes retired Army Commandant Edward Horgan, peace campaigner John Lannon of Shannonwatch, Professor John Maguire of UCC, Galway Councillor Catherine Connolly, Galway Alliance Against War activist Niall Farrell and former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna.  In a letter issued to national newspapers today the group warns of the negative impact Seanad abolition could have for the peace and neutrality agenda.

John Lannon of Shannonwatch warned that the abolition of the Seanad will make the adoption of EU decisions and legislation easier for a government that is determined to do so, even if those decisions are inconsistent with the stated views of the Irish people. Edward Horgan stressed that abolishing the Seanad will eliminate the chance of ever establishing a reformed institution that could scrutinise future EU military issues and will make it less problematic for Enda Kenny and his successors to pass controversial legislation.

New Red C Poll Shows that Irish People Want Neutrality

Over three quarters of Irish people believe Ireland should have a policy of neutrality according to a new Red C poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). The poll also shows that roughly 8 out of 10 people believe Ireland should not support military intervention in Syria without a UN mandate.

According to Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon these findings seriously undermine government policy. "The government has got to realise now that allowing the U.S. military to use Shannon Airport is unacceptable. It was never sanctioned by the Irish people, and clearly it is something that people don't want.

Number of U.S. Military Aircraft at Shannon Raises Concerns

Shannonwatch have called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to clarify the significance of several U.S. troop carriers and other military aircraft at Shannon Airport in the run-up to what might well be a U.S. led attack on Syria. As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to look for support for an attack that would have serious repercussions for the Syrian people and the region as a whole, the organisation calls on the Irish government to make its opposition clear by immediately ending the U.S. military use of the airport.

In the last week Shannonwatch recorded 14 U.S. military aircraft as well as four troop carriers at Shannon Airport. The military aircraft included Hercules C-130s operated by the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and two KC-10s. The KC-10 is a military version of the DC-10 and is used by the U.S. Air Force for transport and aerial refuelling. The presence of the KC-10s at Shannon could indicate that other US military aircraft are being refuelled in or near Irish airspace. 

Sunrise to Sunset Fast for Guantanamo Prisoners at Shannon

A one day solidarity fast is being organised at Shannon Airport on Saturday 7th September in support of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. The fast will run from sunrise (6.45am) to sunset (8pm), and members of the public are invited to join in for some or all of the fast. The event is being organised by Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War.

"A total of 164 prisoners still remain at the notorious US-run Guantanamo Bay prison" said Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon. "Many of them have been detained for over 11 years without any contact with their families. They have not faced trial for any crimes. They have been bound, beaten and made to suffer extremes of temperature. They have been denied justice, first under President George W. Bush, and now under President Barack Obama".

"As Shannon Airport was one of the stops used by the aircraft that kidnapped and brought these men to Guantanamo, it is particularly appropriate that they should be remembered at the airport. For that reason the fast is being held there as a small symbolic sacrifice to draw attention to their plight and to Shannon's shameful role in putting them there".

TDs Join Protest Against US Military Use of Shannon

As part of the ongoing response to the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the US military, Shannonwatch are holding a vigil outside the airport from 2pm to 3pm on Sunday June 9th. The vigil will be attended by independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who will call for government action in line with its stated commitment to international law and Irish neutrality.

Minister Gilmore Claims that US Military Flights through Shannon are Not on Military Operations

In a statement that seems to defy logic, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamonn Gilmore claimed this week that none of the 548 US military aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport in 2012 were carrying arms, ammunition or explosives. He also claimed there was no evidence to suggest they were involved in military exercises or operations.

According to John Lannon of Shannonwatch who monitor military traffic through the airport, it is extremely unlikely that this is the case. "When US President Barack Obama visited Ireland in June 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny assured him of a no-change policy in respect of the use of Shannon by the US military. That policy included the airport's use in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which were most certainly military operations" said Mr. Lannon.

Retired US Army Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright ralso expressed doubts about the Minister's statement. "I have never heard of any such US military flights where there were not armed personnel, at least for securing the plane," said Col. Wright.

Shannon Vigil To Mark 10th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

Representatives of Veterans for Peace from USA, UK and Ireland will attend a Peace Vigil at Shannon Airport on Sunday next 10 March from 2pm to 3pm. The vigil marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the US-led war of aggression against Iraq, which was in contravention of the UN Charter.

Veterans for Peace was founded in the USA in 1985, in opposition to US military intervention in Central America, and now has over 8000 members. Its objectives include bringing about a clearer understanding of the cost of war, in particular the US-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, to close the School of the Americas and to counter military recruitment efforts in schools. They have also undertaken significant humanitarian projects in war zones such as Iraq and campaigns against torture. In 2011 a chapter of Veterans for Peace was formed in the UK, on the initiative of Ben Griffin, and in 2012 Veterans for Peace Ireland was initiated.

War and Human Rights Abuse Are Not in the DNA of Shannon

Last week the chairman of the Shannon Airport Authority (SAA), Rose Hynes revealed that Shannon Airport was not just willing to accommodate US military flights but that it was actively going after what she called ‘important’ and 'lucrative' US military traffic. Shannonwatch are dismayed by this admission that the Irish government, which owns the airport, has completely abandoned the notion of Irish neutrality and is planning continued participation in US wars of aggression.

Shannonwatch believe the SAA chairman’s statement also reflects an unacceptable level of greed for short term income regardless of the consequences. “Estimates indicate that over one million people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the troops started coming through Shannon a decade ago. Like many others, Ms Hynes is clearly more than willing to profit from these deaths and to be part of an economy built on permanent global warfare” said John LAnnon, spokesperson for Shannonwatch.

Launch of New Booklet on Shannon Airport, War and Renditions

A new booklet entitled “Shannon Airport, War and Renditions” is being launched on Friday 12th October at 11am in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin. The booklet, which is been jointly published by Shannonwatch, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), outlines the legal instruments being violated as a result of US military and CIA use of Shannon. It covers aviation, human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the ongoing failure to respect Ireland’s history of neutrality.
 
According to the booklet’s author John Lannon, the publication is an important timely reminder of the extent to which Shannon Airport has contributed to suffering and human rights abuse for over a decade. “The consistent disregard for national and international laws has meant that Shannon has been directly involved in the suffering and death of innocent people - from men tortured in Guantanamo Bay, to children in Afghanistan who are injured or orphaned by airstrikes and roadside bombs.”
 

Gardai Claim No Breaches of International or National Law at Shannon

In March 2011 Shannonwatch called on An Garda Síochána to review a large body of information which they presented in relation to suspect CIA and US military flights through Shannon Airport. They also called on them to provide a comprehensive report on the actions that will be taken to ensure Ireland complies with its international legal obligations. The information was delivered in two wheelbarrows to the Garda Station in Shannon on 18th March 2011.

On 14th August 2012, after seventeen months, Shannonwatch finally received a response from the Gardai. It was a brief half-page letter that simply said “No evidence has been uncovered by the Gardai which indicate [sic] any alleged breach of Irish & International laws resulting from the transit of armed U.S. troops & CIA associated aircraft in connection with wars and military aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and in connection with unlawful detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo prison and elsewhere".