US Military Plane Inspection Attempt at Shannon Because of Lack of Oversight by Authorities

Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace and Shannonwatch was detained at Shannon Airport last Saturday morning (April 18th) as a result of his attempt to search one of four US military Hercules C-130s at the airport. Speaking after being released by the Gardai, he said his action was a result of the failure of the Irish Government and the Gardaí to take steps to ensure that US military aircraft at Shannon are not acting in breach of international laws or Irish neutrality.

Dr Horgan was about to board a flight to London to attend the AGM of Veterans for Peace UK when he saw the Hercules aircraft nearby. He walked over towards the aircraft and he approached the first Hercules C130 he was stopped by an airport security officer. "I explained to him that I wished to search the four aircraft but he prevented me from doing so" said Dr Horgan. "He was then joined by other members of the airport police and I was taken to the terminal building where I was handed over to a Garda Immigration officer".

He informed Gardai that he went to search those four military aircraft because he had absolutely no doubt that some of those planes were carrying weapons and explosives in breach of Irish neutrality and US Government assurances to the contrary and for those reasons that he believed that he was entitled and fully justified in being at that location of the airport.

"The Gardai informed me that they would be preparing a file on the incident and would be in touch with me later. I was then told that I was free to leave the airport" he added.

Shannonwatch is aware that there has been quite a bit of US military activity at the airport in recent days. "In addition to the four Hercules aircraft, there has been at least one C-40 which is the military version of the Boeing 737 and several plane loads of troops at the airport" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. "We would have to wonder if this is linked to the resupplying of Saudi Arabia with munitions This recent surge in US military traffic through Shannon comes just days after the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan revealed that the US is granted blanket permission for overflight of Ireland by unarmed military aircraft.  In reply to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD he said that the US Embassy provides his Department with what he called "post hoc monthly statistical returns" on the total number of overflights by military aircraft.  Its return for February 2015 states that there were 48 such overflights by transport, passenger and refuelling aircraft.

"We have suspected for some time that there is no oversight of what US military traffic is going through Irish airspace and this proves it" said John Lannon. "Our department of Foreign Affairs which should be overseeing our neutrality and our compliance with international law doesn't even find out how many US military planes pass through our sovereign airspace until weeks, possibly months later."

"Post hoc reporting means that if the US is taking arms over Ireland in preparation for another illegal invasion or bombing operation, the Irish government doesn't know about it. And since it would appear that aircraft details are not provided by the Embassy there is no way of knowing what type of missions the aircraft were on even after the fact" he added.

"Other neutral countries like Austria and Switzerland require all military and military operated aircraft overflying the country to apply in advance to do so. Ireland's failure to apply similar procedures seriously undermines its claim to be neutral. It also makes it impossible to believe assurances about US military aircraft landing at Shannon not being armed or involved in military operations, which is why ongoing efforts to search them are so important."

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