Does Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe Really Think We're Neutral?

We are astounded to hear the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe say in a Dail debate yesterday (23rd Sept 2015) that Ireland is a neutral country. He handed out permits to over 550 US planes to take munitions through Shannon and Irish airspace since the start of the year, and yet he claims we're neutral.

In response to Dail questions from TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace the Minister said that the number of US troops who have passed through Shannon Airport to date in 2015 is 39,613.   He also said that the number of requests his Department received up to the end of August 2015 from civilian aircraft to land at Shannon Airport or pass through Irish airspace while carrying munitions was 566. Of these, one request came from an Irish airline, six requests came from a UK airline, five from a Turkish airline and the remainder came from US airlines.

That means that 554 requests out of the 566 permits to take weapons through Ireland so far this year were for the US military. And the Minister says we're neutral.

Let's recall the 2003 High Court case Horgan versus Ireland. In his judgement, Judge Nicholas Kearns (who is now President of the High Court) said "The court is prepared to hold therefore that there is an identifiable rule of customary law in relation to the status of neutrality whereunder a neutral state may not permit the movement of large numbers of troops or munitions of one belligerent State through its territory en route to a theatre of war with another."

So, how can a government Minister claim that Ireland is a neutral country when he allowed the movement of 35,613 US troops and their weapons through Irish territory en route to wars in the Middle East this year alone?

Remember these numbers are in addition to the 2.5 million who have gone through in previous years since the start of the last decade

Shannonwatch, and in particular Edward Horgan who brought the 2003 High Court Case against the State ask, did the Minister for Transport knowingly misinform the Dail?

We also note that he said "Any kinds of items that are given exemptions must always be packaged securely and must be stored in the hold and in such a way that they are inaccessible during the flight."

That's not true - we know from evidence provided in the Mick Wallace/Clare Daly trial in Ennis Court this year that the guns on Omni Air flights are in the cabins. That means they are accessible.

In fact they are so accessible that one was taken from an Omni Air plane in 2003, as the Court heard in that trial.

And finally - another statement from the Minister: "As for the use of civilian aircraft and that matter, the relevant legislation or order is the order of 1973. It empowers somebody to enter an aircraft and inspect it, if it is suspected that the provisions of carrying munitions of war are being contravened. I am not aware of such an allegation or offence having been raised in recent years or being reported to the Garda".

We (Shannonwatch) have made over 100 of them in recent years. He knows that but he chooses to ignore the fact.

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