U.S. Assurances About Military Flights Can No Longer Be Trusted

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has had to concede that an armed U.S. military aircraft landed at Shannon last month. On Oct 15th, he said "I am aware of one landing at Shannon Airport ... in which a US military aircraft, contrary to notification, was found to be armed with a fixed weapon". He claimed that the landing, which was on September 5th, was an "administrative error".

The aircraft in question was a US Air Force Hercules AC-130W, registration 87-9288. It arrived in Shannon on September 5th and departed the following day.

The Minister did not provide this information but Shannonwatch know it from their own data on military flights through Shannon.

Reacting to this news, John Lannon of Shannonwatch said "Its important to reiterate here that we're talking about an armed aircraft at Shannon, not a pistol held by the crew, or personal weapons like rifles and pistols that come through all the time. The aircraft in question has a 30mm cannon and a laser guided missile system. So this is an large weapon, designed to cause great damage and potentially great loss of life. And it was sitting at the airport in Shannon, in "neutral" Ireland".

"This gun was clearly visible, and was therefore admitted to by the US Embassy. But there may be other lethal weapons on aircraft at Shannon every day of the week that are not so visible. The Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot continue now with the pretence that the US military are not engaged in military operations when they come through Shannon. He's got the evidence that should lead to decisive action to end Ireland's support for US wars, and for military interventions not sanctioned by the UN."

"Minister Gilmore and the rest of the government cannot continue to accept and repeat "assurances" from the US embassy about Shannon" said Mr Lannon. "They gave "assurances" that they don't have weapons on military planes, butthey have been found out on this occasion. The U.S. also gave "assurances" to the UK government that they hadn't used British airports for renditions, yet it was discovered that they had".

"When it comes to international movement of military and CIA operatives and aircraft, US assurances are worthless. So why should we believe their assurances about Shannon and renditions?  How long until we hear that there were illegally kidnapped prisoners shackled on planes at Shannon? And will Minister Gilmore call that an administrative error, just like the weaponry?"

For years Shannonwatch have been asking for proper inspections of US military planes at Shannon They now reiterate their demands for regular and routine inspections until such time as the US military use of the airport is finally ended. "One very important reason for this is the huge risks associated with having weapons at a civilian airport like Shannon" said John Lannon. "We've known for the last decade that there were weapons and (almost certainly) ammunition on board Omni Air International and other "civilian" troop carriers, and that an explosion would have very grave consequences. Now we know that aircraft arrive at Shannon with fixed weapons - in other words missiles or guns mounted on the side or wings" .

"Another reason why there shouldn't be any aircraft with weapons attached at Shannon is that it violates the strong commitment the Irish people have to peace and human rights protection".

"On top of all that there is now evidence that the US has broken the legal agreements the Minister places so much trust in. So it's about time he stopped allowing himself to be misled by the US embassy - or that he stopped misleading the Irish people".

"The lives of millions of people who suffer the daily fear of being shot at by the weapons going through Shannon are at stake".

 

Share this