We've had quite a flurry of US air Force traffic at Shannon in the past few days. But of course the government or the Department of Foreign Affairs won't explain why there were there, when the flights were authorised, or whether or not they were inspected to ensure there were no weapons on board.
Shannonwatch welcomes calls for Ireland to do more to resettle and provide international protection for people fleeing from Afghanistan. It also calls on the government to urgently assess its role in creating the conditions leading to the current catastrophic situation there. In particular, there is an urgent need to assess and end the use of Shannon Airport by the US military, in light of what the twenty-year occupation of Afghanistan has led to.
“Ireland has been complicit in the US led twenty-year war against Afghanistan by not only allowing US military to use Shannon Airport but by inviting the US Government to do so” said Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan. “Even if we had never been a neutral country we should not allow any military forces to use Irish territory to wage illegal and unjustified wars. The US military use of Shannon should be ended immediately as the USA is still engaged in unjustified military actions in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.”
In recent weeks some of the world's largest cargo planes have flown from Afghanistan to the US via Shannon. Three Antonov AN-124's, with serial numbers UR-82029, UR-82008 and UR-82007 were almost certainly carrying heavy loads of military equipment, being brought home as the US abandon the Afghan people to the Taliban. Some of them even stayed overnight at Shannon before flying on to Orlando, Florida.
Our friends the Raging Grannies invite everyone who feels as they do (rage, humiliation and emotional abuse) to confront Eamon Ryan, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, who is allowing young American soldiers to travel through Shannon Airport to fight in wars they know nothing about.
On Wednesday the 7th of July from 12 noon, they will be at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, DO2 TR60 to do that. Join them if you can for as little or as long as you want.
On Wednesday July 7th Ireland’s Raging Grannies will gather outside the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to demand that the Minister, Eamon Ryan, stop authorising the daily transit of weapons through Shannon Airport by the US military. They are asking the public to join their colourful protest at the department in Leeson St, Dublin from 12 noon onwards.
The Raging Grannies also plan to make themselves heard at the Department of Foreign Affairs which is authorising the use of Shannon by other US military planes.
Omni Air N234AX US troop carrier arrived at Shannon on Tuesday night (June 29th) at 11pm for refuelling, coming from Al Udeid air base in Qatar and Kuwait in the previous few days. It took off again at 2am on Wednesday morning on its way to Biggs air base in El Paso Texas via Baltimore Washington.
Photo taken at Shannon on a previous refueling stop last year.
You may have seen that on June 7th the U.S. Africa Command began a huge military exercise with NATO which it calls "African Lion 21" . It is described as a multi-domain, multi-component, and multi-national exercise which employ "a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among partner nations and enhance the ability to operate in the African theater of operations". Most of the activities are spread across Morocco, but some are also occurring in Senegal and Tunisia.
African Lion concluded on June 18th. Over 7,000 troops are reported to have taken part.
It looks like Ireland was also taking part. We tracked an Omni Air troop carrier N819AX that made two trips from army bases in the U.S. to Morocco and back, all through Shannon, in the last 2 days, presumably bringing participating troops back from these military exercises.
Sunday June 13th saw us returning to Shannon Airport to recommence our monthly peace vigils. We had around 20 peace activists there, watched by around 20 Gardai.
Inside the airport, security personnel, including an Irish army patrol, protecting three US Marine Corps Hercules KC-130J warplanes that had landed the previous night. They stayed overnight at Shannon, meaning that their crews and military passengers were almost certainly in local hotels for the night.
The peace and human rights group Shannonwatch have called on the Irish government to avoid using the US military to help keep Shannon Airport open as it struggles to remain viable. In light of the recent Aer Lingus announcement that it was closing its passenger operations at Shannon, Shannonwatch call for a development strategy for the airport that does not include a reliance on the transit of foreign troops and their weapons to keep it open.
Today we photographed another US Air Force Hercules EC-130H 'Compass Call' at Shannon. There was one there two weeks ago on May 20th (see our report here), it had call sign AXIS12. Today's was AXIS11. It arrived at 10:56 and left again at 13:34. The aircraft registration was 73-1584.