Shannonwatch Call for Immediate Cessation of US Military Use of Shannon in Light of Covid-19 Breaches

  • Posted on: 15 February 2021
  • By: shannonwatch

Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to explain why troops landing at Shannon on US military and military contracted flights were repeatedly allowed to overnight at local hotels over the last three weeks, despite restrictions on travel in the interests of public health.

On Jan 25th, passengers and crew from a US Navy plane that landed at Shannon were permitted to stay at a Limerick hotel. On Jan 28th, 226 troops from an Omni Air International plane stayed overnight in a number of Limerick hotels. Yet despite the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney saying the US authorities had assured him it would not happen again, it did. On February 8th a US Air Force Special Operations Command Dornier C-140A aircraft spent over 17 hours at Shannon and both crew members and passengers accommodated overnight in a local hotel.

“We don’t know the full extent of US military breaches of Covid-19 regulations at Shannon” said Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan. “But we do know that we cannot trust assurances from the US Government. Therefore, the only safe course of action is to withdraw permission for US military and military contracted flights to land and refuel at Shannon Airport.

“Such permission should never have been given in the first instance by any Irish Government, given our policy of neutrality. But now that the US military is presenting a clear risk to public health, there is no option but to end it.”

Shannonwatch also calls on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to explain why the rule that all foreign arrivals must have a valid PCR test  is apparently waived for US troops at Shannon Airport.

“It appears that no tests were required for 226 troops on an Omni Air international aircraft that arrived at Shannon, took off and then returned. The Minister has confirmed that these troops went to local hotels and were accommodated overnight. We call on him to clarify if these troops were classified as arrivals from abroad, and if so, why they were allowed to disembark, pass through the airport and spend the night at several different hotels.” said Mr Horgan.

Minister Ryan also granted a permit for the carriage of munitions of war on the Omni Air plane that breached Covid-19 regulations.  In 2002 he said that the Americans were treating Shannon as a domestic military airport, and that soldiers in desert fatigues that could be seen walking around the airport complex were not compatible with Ireland's status of neutrality.

“Today Eamon Ryan not only provides permits for those soldiers to take their weapons through Shannon, he also presides over their flagrant disregard for our public health.” said Shannonwatch

Shannonwatch call for a complete cessation of all US military traffic through Shannon Airport, and a restoration of Ireland’s neutrality.

For more information see  US Military Breach Covid-19 Regulations at Shannon on at least Three Occasions

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