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."

Explaining why they were asking everyone going for election to Dáil Eireann to sign a peace pledge, Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace, Ireland, said:  "We have seen too much devastation, loss of life and people fleeing from their homes as a result of war. The next government, and indeed everyone in the Dáil, must now commit to ending our complicity in this suffering."

" A neutral state is subject to certain rules and obligations under international law, in particular the Hague Convention which states that belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power."

"The participation of Ireland in military alliances like the NATO Partnership for Peace and European Union (EU) battlegroups should also be ended with immediate effect," said Roger Cole of PANA.

"Furthermore, support for regional military alliances, including those resulting from the Mutual Defence Clause of the Lisbon Treaty, flouts the democratic wishes of the Irish people who have regularly reaffirmed their commitment to positive neutrality."

This is in line with the recommendation of a report of the Joint Oireachtas Petitions Committee which was launched on Monday (February 2nd). The Committee called for a Dáil and Seanad debate on the matter with a view holding a referendum so that the will of the people can be determined.

Michael Youlton of the IAWM said "The movement of rendition planes through Shannon Airport has been in contravention of the UN Convention Against Torture, while Ireland's responsibility to uphold international treaties like the Geneva Conventions and the Arms Trade Treaty has been systematically ignored, and in some cases impeded, by the failure of the authorities to inspect suspect aircraft at Shannon."

"By facilitating the development of an armaments industry, the current Irish Government has contributed to making the world a more dangerous place. The next government must end the production of weapons systems components here," said long-time peace activist and GAAW member Margaretta D'Arcy.

The Peace Pledge is available online at www.peacepledge.ie. Election candidates are asked to go to the site and commit to not joining or supporting a Government that allows the use of Shannon Airport for military purposes.

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