From Shane Ross - The Minister who Approves the US Military Contracted Flights Through Ireland

In a recent reply to a pariamentary question from Clare Daly TD, our Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, pedantically explained that the regulation of civil aircraft is governed by the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention), and that rom that Convention and subsequent international treaties, international rights and freedoms of air for civil aircraft, including the right to refuel, are derived.

He didn't need to explain this; he's written it at the start of umpteen parliamentary question responses already

He went on to state that Ireland's rights and obligations under the Convention have been incorporated into Irish law through the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1946 (as amended). The legislation, he said, provides that the Minister for Transport has primary responsibility for the regulation of civil aircraft, including those chartered to other States.

Seems reasonable. He's in clarge of all civil aircraft passing through Ireland or Irish airspace.

He then said that under the Air Navigation (Carriage of War, Weapons and dangerous Goods) Order 1973, as amended, civil aircraft are prohibited from carrying weapons or munitions in Irish sovereign airspace or into Irish airports unless they receive an exemption from the Minister for Transport.

Again, this is all very reasonable. After all, we're a neutral state.

Then some reassurance from the Minister ...

"In considering such applications, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport seeks the advice of relevant Government Departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

All as it should be ... so far.

"Consistent with our stated policy my Department recommends against the carriage of munitions ..."

Good.

"... with exceptions made for unloaded personal weapons or those intended for international crisis management and peace support operations."

Mmm ...

"In the first six months of this year, my Department has recommended against approval of 12 applications for exemptions."

Ah, good!

But no, not so good. In the same period his Department recommended FOR approval of no fewer than 604 applications for exemptions, mostly by the US military.

That's permission granted for 604 flights carrying weapons through Ireland.

He didn't mention that in his reply.

The statistics are available here, buried deep in the Department's website (possibly because we and some TDs like Clare Daly kept asking for them). What they show is that refusing the carriage of munitions through Ireland is the exception rather than the norm when it comes to US military flights. The ratio of permits to refusals is 50 to 1.

In answer to another parliamentary question, also from Clare Daly, Ross said

"As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport my functions in relation to the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace by the US military are limited."

That's true. 

They are limited to the power to grant or refuse permission to land and to carry weapons.

And he chooses to grant permission in almost every case.

In the same parliamentary question response, the Minister overseeing Transport, US Military Deployment Through Ireland, Tourist Promotions and Sports Grants said that in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Order, his Department operates a procedure under which airlines wishing to carry weapons or munitions through Irish airspace or airports must apply for each individual flight at least 48 hours in advance.  

48 hours leave little or no time to examine the application, where the troops carrying the weapons are going, or how the weapons will be used. Clearly there is no desire to do a proper examination; its a rubber stamping exercise by the Minister twho once claimed to care about Ireland's neutrality.]

Clearly he doesn't. He just cares about being a yes-man for US warmongering, and about demonstrating his solid imperialist credentials - couched no doubt in the discourse of nations' responsibility to oppose terrorism and protect civilians.

Given the number of civilian deaths the war-hungry US elite have caused, there is clearly no intent to protect. 

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