US Military Landings at Baldonnel Aerodrome

Anti-war demonstration at Baldonnel in April 2006 (from http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75493)

A revelation at the end of last year that didn't get any media coverage was brought to our attention again this week. It related to the US military use of the aerodrome at Baldonnel, which is happening with similar lack of oversight as they are allowed to use of Shannon. This is a further violation of Irish neutrality and probably other international laws, and its scale needs further investigation.

In December last, Seán Crowe TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if US military aircraft had landed in Baldonnel Aerodrome between January 2001 and December 2014. He also asked for details of the number that landed per year, the type of aircraft, and the reason they were given permission to land. The Minister's reply was as follows:

"I can confirm that US military aircraft have been granted permission to use the landing facilities at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.

Given the extent of the sellout of Irish neutrality in recent years it is perhaps not surprising that the US military are allowed to use Baldonnel whenever they please. What is revealing however is the next part of the Minister's answer:

"Records of landings at the Aerodrome are held by the Air Corps but statistics for the period in question by year and type of aircraft are not readily available.  Information is currently being sourced through the Department of Defence and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available."

The question was asked eight months ago and the Department of Defence have still not provided the information that was promised This would lead us to believe that either (a) they don't know how many US military aircraft landed at Baldonnel, or (b) they don't want to say. It should be quite straightforward; the stated policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs is that it must give foreign military aircraft permission to land. So if every US military aircraft that landed at Baldonnel requested permission to land, the statistics would be readily available.

Are the US military using Baldonnel without even requesting permission, whenever they wish? We hope not, but it would seem that the only way to find out is to start monitoring the flights in and out of the aerodrome, just like we do at Shannon. Time too for some peace actions to draw attention to what's going on at Baldonnel, just to encourage the media to take an interest ...

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