Ongoing US Military Use of Shannon Airport Unacceptable
Shannonwatch are appalled at the continuing use of Shannon Airport by US military troop carriers, despite the issuing of a stop movement order to the US military by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper on March 25th. This was intended to halt travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, troop carriers have been landing at Shannon as recently as April 10th, 11th and 12th.
“We are astonished that in these times of national emergency, our leaders continue to permit the landing of foreign troops at Shannon Airport” said Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon. “Facilitating the movement of troops half way across the world to invade and occupy other countries is never good. But now more than ever it is absolutely unconscionable and unacceptable.”
On April 10th, Omni Air N819AX arrived from Kuwait with a stopover at Sofia, Bulgaria. It used a call sign that indicated it was on US military business. The following day Omni Air N846AX landed, also using a military call sign. This one came from Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates, again with a short stopover in Sofia, Bulgaria.
N819AX was back on Sunday, April 12th, with the military call-sign CMB593, returning once again from Kuwait via Sofia.
Shannonwatch do not know if US troops on board these Omni Air aircraft were allowed into the airport terminal building. “Nonetheless we are gravely concerned that at a time when every effort is being made to restrict the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland, we are still allowing foreign troop carriers to land. There are reports that coronavirus has spread in 150 American military camps, with thousands of soldiers infected. Having these planes land at Shannon creates additional unnecessary risk for people working at Shannon, and for the population of Ireland as a whole.”
Shannonwatch have been holding monthly peace vigils at Shannon Airport since 2008, with protests against the US military stretching back to 2002 when the large troop movements through the airport began. This month, due to the Covid-19 restrictions their protests went online, with supporters tweeting their opposition using the #USMilitaryOutOfShannon hashtag.
“The ongoing use of Shannon Airport by the US army makes it, in effect, a US military outpost. This is contrary to the policy of neutrality we claim to hold, and almost certainly makes us complicit in war crimes” said Lannon.