On 1 December 2005, when asked about the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) rendition planes using Shannon airport, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said: “If anyone has any evidence of any of these flights please give me a call and I will have it immediately investigated.” In response, Amnesty International brought flight logs to the Irish Government’s attention showing that six planes known to have been used by the CIA for renditions had made approximately 800 flights in or out of European airspace including 50 landings at Shannon airport. No investigation was undertaken by the Irish government.

Since then Council of Europe and European Parliament inquiries have identified Shannon airport as a stopover point in the US renditions programme. Ireland was one of the countries named in a 2006 report by Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly rapporteur Dick Marty as having passively colluded in US renditions by allowing Shannon Airport to be used by aircraft linked with renditions without restriction or oversight.

According to the Council of Europe and European Parliament, the Irish Government is one of those states avoiding its international human rights responsibilities by refusing to investigate allegations that aircraft linked to renditions have landed in Ireland or have been permitted to cross Irish airspace, or to take measures to prevent such acts.

In addition, the Irish Human Rights Commission has repeatedly advised the Irish Government that the only effective way of ensuring that it does not become complicit in dispatching people to be tortured or ill-treated is through establishing an effective regime of monitoring and inspection.

To date, rather than take measures to identify past violations of Irish territory or to prevent future violations, the Irish Government has simply denied any possibility that Irish airports or airspace could have been used by US rendition flights. Despite mounting evidence, the Irish Government insists that it can legitimately rely on US ‘assurances’ that Ireland has not and will not be used for rendition purposes. Amnesty International, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament have repeatedly stressed that reliance on such assurances does not fulfill Ireland's human rights obligations.


Suspect rendition plane N54PA photographed at Shannon

Flight logs have been recorded by Shannonwatch showing that aircraft owned or operated by the CIA have repeatedly used Shannon airport. Activists have reported numerous landings by such planes at Shannon and have requested inspections while the planes are on the ground. These requests are refused, sometimes on the basis that further evidence is needed, and the Irish Government continues to say it accepts US assurances that there are no prisoners being transited through Ireland. This is at best disingenuous - even if prisoners were not transported directly through Ireland, planes have stopped on Irish territory en route to and from illegal rendition missions. The movements of US military/CIA agents and planes should therefore be investigated, as should the Irish authorities' complicity in these activities.

Visit our rendition planes page for a comprehensive list of known or suspected rendition planes.

See also reports that confirm the use of Shannon airport by CIA planes involved in renditions.