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Ireland should be to forefront on highlighting Yemen atrocities

Letter by Shannonwatch's Edward Horgan published in today's Irish Independent and reproduced here in full.

Genocide is defined as "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part". What is happening in Yemen at present falls within this category yet the international community is actively facilitating rather than preventing it. In the 1990s when questioned by a reporter about up to half a million children who died as a result of UN and Western imposed sanctions on Iraq, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright replied "Yes I believe it was worth it". Our Irish Government remained silent then. In 2017 a greater catastrophe is being perpetrated in Yemen actively supported by the United States and its allies. One branch of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Committee, is condemning this situation, while the UN Security Council is the organisation that is imposing sanctions and a naval blockade that is preventing the importation of vital food supplies to Yemen, at the behest of its permanent members the US, supported by Britain and France. They do this on behalf of Saudi Arabia, which is the leading aggressor in Yemen, while selling large amounts of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Irish Activists Attending International Peace Summit in Brussels

On May 25th, government leaders from around the world will meet in Brussels for a NATO Summit which will be attended by US President Donald Trump. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg already met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on the 2nd May at Palais d'Egmont to prepare for this meeting, with a stated agenda including NATO's role in the fight against terrorism and EU relations. Meanwhile US President Trump has already announced a massive increase in military spending, and has demanded that Europe adopt a similar policy. The rise of defence budgets up to 2% of the Gross Domestic Product will undoubtedly be one of the most important topics at this Summit meeting.

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) have sent a strong delegation to attend a counter 'Yes to Peace...NO to NATO' Conference in Brussels which is organised by the World Peace Council (WPC). There they will meet up with other representatives of peace groups and peace activists from all over Europe and the United States.

Peace Activists Charged with Defacing a US Warplane at Shannon

Last night (April 25th) two peace activists, Edward Horgan, member of Veterans for Peace Ireland, and Dan Dowling entered Shannon Airport by route unknown, and went to the location on Taxiway 11 where two US Navy planes numbered 165836 and 165829 were parked. The warplanes were being protected by an Irish army patrol who were accompanied by a Garda. The peace activists managed to get as far as the aircraft, before they were seen by the Army patrol. It later transpired that someone, some person or persons unknown, had written the words DANGER DANGER DO NOT FLY on the engine of one of the warplanes. At about 10.50 pm after the peace activists had been discovered they were surrounded by Garda and airport Security patrol vehicles with blue flashing lights.

Easter Sunday at Shannon - More Warplanes, More Suffering

Its great that so many of us here in Ireland can enjoy Easter. Not so for many people across the Middle East at present. Over 100 people died yesterday in a terrorist attack on a convoy of busses trying to evacuate civilians from two towns held by the Syrian Government near Aleppo. The victims were mainly women and children and many were injured people in the process of being transferred to hospitals in Aleppo. The rebels who launched this suicide attack are most likely from one of the rebel groups supported and armed by the US and Turkey. We are unlikely to hear statements condemning this attack from US President Trump, or callS for a UN Security Council investigation.

Irish Neutrality is not Obsolete

In an article published in the Irish Times on April 8th, the paper's former foreign correspondent Patrick Smith claimed that the concept of neutrality was obsolete for Ireland. In a response published on April 14th John Maguire outlines why that is not the case. We reprint his excellent letter in full here.

Patrick Smyth declares Irish neutrality obsolete (Opinion 8th April 2017), a report which manages to be simultaneously old and false news.  Despite frequent P45s and applications of the last rites, neutrality just won't bow out.  Maybe one reason is that it is endorsed by 78% of Irish people (RedC, 2013).

Response to Freedom of Information Request Raises More Questions

In February of this year Shannonwatch lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for correspondence and records relating to a sample 12 US military contracted flights that landed at Shannon or flew through Irish airspace in October 2016. The flights were classified as civilian rather than military but they had US military charter call signs, and were operated by airlines that have "indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity" contracts to provide international airlift services to the US military (a full list of companies with contracts to provide international airlift services to the US military is available here). Four of the flights in the FOI request were Atlas Air flights; four were by MN Airlines LLC, operating as Sun Country Airlines; two were operated by Omni Air International; one by National Air Cargo; and one was a UPS Airlines flight.

A list of all 12 flights is provided at the end of this article.

In order to carry guns and/or ammunition these flights would have to seek and be granted an exemption under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. This is, in effect, a request to take munitions of war through Irish territory.