Review of Overflights and Landings by US Military Aircraft in Ireland is Long Overdue

US military aircraft at Shannon. April 9th 2016.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan has claimed that arrangements for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft at Irish airports and in Irish airspace are kept under ongoing review. There is little evidence of any review of the daily overflights and landings by the US military. But in light of the current ramping up of military aggression around the world by the US, including the illegal and counterproductive air strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, it is now time for an urgent review of our support for their military aggression.

Irish support for a foreign military on its way to and from wars in the Middle East goes against the wishes of the majority of Irish people who want us to be a neutral country. These wishes are being ignored without any opportunity for people to debate the risks associated with our support for the US. The consequences would be very serious for Ireland if we were targeted as an accomplice in US bombing campaigns and weapons supply. And yet Shannon Airport in effect operates as a US military base.

The US are now sending more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. They are launching missile attacks in Syria; supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, Israel and other murderous regimes; carrying out drone strikes that kill and main civilians in Pakistan, Somalia and several other countries; and their warships are now provokatively positioned close to North Korea.

As Clare Daly pointed out in follow-up to her question to Minister Flanagan:

"The US has launched more air strikes in Yemen in March 2017 than in all of last year, not to mention the Saudi crimes in that area. Ireland has facilitated all of these campaigns by allowing the US military on its route to those areas to land in Shannon Airport. Not only that, we know there has been an expansion of the areas of active hostilities, as the US calls them, in Somalia and so on. We know that drone strikes, which had reached a record under Obama at one every 4.5 days, have now reached a rate of one every 1.8 days under President Trump."

For how much longer will Ireland continue to support all this by allowing the US military to use Shannon Airport? For how much longer will the Irish authorities refuse to search or inspect a single US military aircraft at the airport? How many more thousand people have to be brutally killed by the US before we, a nation that claims to be neutral and to uphold peace and justice, will stop supporting Trump's global rampage of violence and terror?

In reply to the question from Clare Daly TD the Minister also said that his department "ensures that detailed and robust procedures are in place to ensure that all relevant parties are fully aware of the requirements relating to applications for permission for foreign military aircraft to overfly or land in the State". We know this is not true. For a start, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only receives statistical reports on US military flights after they have taken place. Secondly Shannonwatch have documented several landings by US military planes at Shannon where the stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives were not complied with. On each occasion the Department claimed they were "administrative errors".

In addition to all this, the Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe told Catherine Connolly TD in February that providing overflight and landing facilities to the US military "do not amount to any form of military alliance with the US and are governed by strict conditions, applied to ensure compatibility with our traditional policy of military neutrality". There have been well over 2.5 million armed US troops at Shannon Airport in the past 16 years; how this cannot be considered a military alliance is beyond comprehension.

We are supporting a belligerent and aggressive US regime that flaunts international law. It is time to stop, before we are sucked even further into wars started by them.

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