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.

"Over the years we've had incomplete and selective reporting of investigations following requests to inspect known rendition aircraft at Shannon" said Mr Lannon. "This highlights the government's failure to protect the rights enshrined in treaties like the Convention Against Torture which Ireland is a party to."

Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch who also addressed the Petitions Committee outlined how the US military use of Shannon Airport goes against our obligations as a neutral State, and how the lack of proper oversight means we don't know who or what is going through. "We know we are in contravention of international laws on neutrality but we don't know to what extent we are in contravention of these and other international laws" he said. "Have we facilitated the movement of war criminals for example? Have dangerous or banned weapons been brought through? We don't know because nobody will find out.

"There are very grave matters of human rights involved in Ireland participating in unjustified wars and being complicit in breaches of international laws and conventions by complicity in torture" added Mr Horgan. "The positive things we should be doing in matters of international relations are being neglected and damaged by our participation and complicity in wars. Ireland's very beneficial role in promoting international peace and justice has been severely damaged by its complicity in war crimes and its breaches of international laws on neutrality and torture."

Shannonwatch also highlighted the need to enshrine neutrality in the Irish Constitution in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of the Irish people.

The 80 year old peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy who was imprisoned in January for going onto the runway at Shannon also met with the Oireachtas Committee. She drew attention to recent revelations in the RTE documentary The Torture Files about how Britain withheld key evidence about the effects of the torture on fourteen Northern Irish men. "The failure to achieve proper accountability for the torture in Northern Ireland has had knock on effects right up to the present times" said Ms. D'Arcy. Likewise if we fail to hold past and present Irish Governments and senior politicians to account for Irish complicity in torture and other crimes against humanity this will have knock on effects not only in Ireland, but internationally" she said.

Shannonwatch also drew attention to the ongoing regular visits of a jet used by the CIA for renditions to Shannon. A Gulfstream V jet with registration N977GA came to attention last year when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made his way to Russia and the plane flew into Europe in an effort to get him back to America. "This raises the very real possibility that rendition planes may not be a thing of the past at Shannon" said Shannonwatch. "How many more tortured prisoners will we tolerate before we start to investigate? And how many more thousands of deaths will we allow in the Middle East before we stop supporting militarization and war?"

For a copy of Shannonwatch's full submission to the Petitions Committee, click here.

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