Gardai Monitor Peace Activists instead of Warplanes at Shannon Airport

Garda surveillance of peace vigil at Shannon today

The monthly peace vigils at Shannon Airport continued today, with about 20 people gathering to highlight the unacceptable US military use of the airport. A few hours earlier a US Air Force Special Reserve plane left Shannon, probably on its way to or from the Middle East where US interventions continue to result in widespread loss of life. It should have been the focus of attention of the Gardai, whose job it is to detect and prevent crime, and to ensure our nation's security. But as usual it wasn't.

There could have been scores war criminals or kidnapped prisoners and stashes of lethal weapons on the plane. So just in case, the Gardai kept themselves busy doing something else.

A couple of hours later, as we gathered to oppose the US military use of the airport the Gardai sprang into action. They erected crash barriers to block our entry into the airport, positioned several vehicles (which they sat in) beside the barriers, and even positioned a car right beside our peaceful gathering of activists to record us.

The overt and unnecessary surveillance may have been designed to make us feel all uncomfortable, or to deter people from engaging in peaceful protest against the State. It may have been sanctioned by a senior officer or government Minister. The US authorities may even have instructed their minions in the Irish police service to gather video recordings of people who oppose their warmongering.

Or it may just have been a solo run by a Garda who took it upon himself to use his own phone to record details of everyone who gathered peacefully at Shannon today. We were drawing attention to the fact that he and his colleagues are failing in their duty to investigate likely breaches of law by the occupants of the US military planes using the airport. Maybe he just wanted some personal recordings of the people who were showing them up.

After the peace vigil we took some time to look at the Policing Principles established by the Garda Síocháná Act 2005. It says that policing services must be provided:

  • Independently and impartially,
  • In a manner that respects human rights, and
  • In a manner that supports the proper and effective administration of justice.

Based on today's evidence the Gardai at Shannon are failing abjectly on all three of these.

If they would like to send us the video recordings of today's peace vigil they can post it to us at the address on our website (www.shannonwatch.org).

And just in case they missed any of the people there today here is a photo of the gathering.

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