Details of Permits Granted for Military Flights by Department of Foreign Affairs

  • Posted on: 29 November 2020
  • By: shannonwatch

Earlier this month the Minister for Foreign Affairs provided Catherine Connolly TD with a breakdown of military flights that landed at Shannon or were granted permission  to fly through Irish airspace for the years 2015 to 2019. Deputy Connolly requested the data for every year since 2002 but was told that because Department of Foreign Affairs staff are working from home and do not have access to physical files required to compile data for the years prior to 2015.

The following tables summariises the military landings at Shannon.


Military overflight numbers were even higher each year.


Full details are available here.

In responding to the questions from Deputy Connolly the Minister said two notable things.

Firstly he said that the flights "routinely include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations". This is different to saying they always include stipulations that they are unarmed, etc. Does this mean that they are sometimes carrying arms?

Secondly he said that overflights by US military aircraft "are permitted without prior notification, where the aircraft are unarmed, carry only cargo and passengers and comply with navigational requirements". In other words the US military are allowed to take whatever aircraft they want through Irish airspace, and only tell the Department of Foreign Affairs afterwards. This demonstrates a lack of oversight of what the US military are doing in our airspace.

There is a similar lack of oversight at Shannon. No inspections. And no information about what the US military planes are ever doing there. If the flights do not form part of military exercises or operations, then what are they part of?

We will continue to seek the truth.