US Troops Overnighting in Mid-West Despite Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

  • Posted on: 8 February 2021
  • By: shannonwatch

This week Catherine Connolly TD submitted a parliamentary question to ask the Minister for Transport if an exemption under the Air Navigation (Munitions of War,Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Orders 1973 and 1989 was granted by his Department in respect of Omni Air aircraft number N828AX call sign CMB549. It landed at Shannon Airport at 11.27am on Thursday 28th January, remained there overnight and took off again at 09.28 am on Friday 29th. She also asked for the number of US military personnel on board this aircraft; if the aircraft was carrying weapons or munitions given that the aircraft remained overnight, if the aircraft crew and military passengers were accommodated in a local hotel; if all persons on board this aircraft were required to produce a negative Covid-19 test on arrival in Ireland.

The Minister forwarded the question to Shannon Group plc. Here's what they said:

On 28th January at 0334hrs, Omni Air International aircraft number N828AX call sign CMB549 arrivedat Shannon Airport from Gulfport–Biloxi International Airport U.S.A with the passengers remaining on board pending departure at 0630hrs to Rota in Spain. The aircraft returned at 1120hrs due to severe weather (dense fog) at its destination and remained at the airport. A decision was made to cancel the flight and accommodate the passengers overnight pending a resumption the following day. The passengers departed to local hotels at 1630hrs following receipt of diplomatic clearance and were accommodated in emergency hotel accommodation. Airline Crews are exempt from current Covid testing requirements and the passengers concerned were never destined to disembark in Shannon, therefore no Covid 19 test wasrequired. Due to the emergency/humanitarian situation, the passengers were escorted to/from the hotel accommodation under an agreed local protocol for such rare occurrences and a passenger locator form signed by the Commander. On the 29th January the aircraft departed Shannon at 0928hrs for its original destination.

They also confirmed that an exemption under the carriage of weapons was in place from the Department of Transport. However they couldn't say if there were munitions or weapons on board as it had no cause to board the aircraft.

And they said that security for the aircraft was provided overnight by An Garda Síochána.

The US Department of Defence has reported that there have been about 145,000 coronavirus cases amongst active duty personnel and 21 fatalities related to Covid-19 during the pandemic. Getting the vaccine is "a personal decision" for military personnel according to Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Foreign travel restrictions are in place in Ireland to protect public health and to mitigate the risk of new variants of Covid-19 entering the country. Yet the Government is allowing US soldiers to overnight near Shannon Airport. 

First priority is to support US warmongering it seems.   

From 4 February 2021, a legal requirement to quarantine has been introduced for all passengers arriving in Ireland. Only very limited categories of passengers can be exempt from this legal requirement according to the Department of Foreign Affairs Travel Advisory notice. But we have little reason to believe that US troops be asked to quarantine. Its more likely that this will become yet another legal requirement that is set aside in order to  support US military aggression.