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.

On 18 June 2008 another Shannonwatch member who requested that an aircraft be searched because he believed that it was associated with CIA renditions was informed by a sergeant that a "policy decision" had been made by the Gardaí that there were no grounds to search the plane.

And at a meeting in 2011, a Garda Inspector indicated that the Gardaí were acting on instructions from the Garda Commissioner, based on advice from the Attorney General, in relation to the searching of suspect rendition aircraft.

Shannonwatch member John Lannon said "We wrote to the current Attorney General in September 2011, seeking clarification as to whether or not such instruction or advice was provided by her office. In the letter we expressed concern that if any such instruction or letter of advice was issued it might be in conflict with Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000 and Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act, 1998".

Shannonwatch requested that the Attorney General Ms Máire Whelan clarify whether such a policy decision, letter of advice or instruction existed, and if so, whether it is still applicable to the investigation and searching of US aircraft by the Gardaí at Shannon Airport. The reply from her office said that Shannonwatch's letter appeared to contain "allegation of serious wrongdoing against her predecessor the late Mr. Brady" and that these allegations were "completely without foundation".

In a subsequent letter dated 12 June 2012 the Attorney General's office said that it was not their practice or policy to discuss Law Officers advices, or the existence or non-existence of advices or instructions. Nonetheless it repeated the position that the allegations were without foundation, and that this remains the case.

"If serious allegations are being made against the former Attorney General, it is not us that are making them." said another Shannonwatch member, Edward Horgan. "We're just repeating what the Gardai have said to us".

"The responses from the AG's office raise the question of why the Gardai at Shannon believe there is an advice not to search US military or CIA aircraft at Shannon." Said Mr Horgan. "Did it come from senior Garda management, or from the Minister's office? And if so, why was it issued, when there were serious matters of law at stake?"

Shannonwatch are calling on the Minister for Justice to investigate and clarify the matter immediately.


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