Minister for Foreign Affairs Unwilling to Find Out or Tell the Truth about US Military Use of Shannon

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has admitted that he or his department do not know or do not attempt to find out how many US troops really pass through Shannon. In response to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD about the number of military personnel who have passed through Shannon Airport on military and State aircraft, including crew, he said

"In examining requests for landings of foreign military aircraft at Shannon Airport, passenger numbers are not routinely sought by my Department.  The vast majority of military personnel who transit through Shannon Airport do so on civil aircraft."

We know that 2.5 million troops and their weapons have transited through Shannon on those so-called 'civil aircraft' (like those operated by Omni Air International). But now it appears that the government has no idea how many more transit through on military planes like the Hercules C-130s that we have photographed troops getting off.

New booklet: Shannon Airport and 21st Century War

We are delighted to announce a new publication entitled Shannon Airport and 21st Century War, edited by Shannonwatch's John Lannon and PANA's Roger Cole. Printed copies of the 48 page booklet are available for €10 by contacting Shannonwatch or PANA. You can also download a PDF version of the booklet by clicking here.

The primary purpose of the publication is to document and raise awareness of the extent to which Irish values and neutrality have been eroded by the US military use of Shannon Airport. It charts Government support for this since 2002, and examines the flawed basis upon which they've attempted to justify it. The use of the airport in the illegal CIA practice of kidnapping and torture, known as renditions, is also outlined as is the cost to the Irish State for the support given to the US war machine.

We are all at Risk if we Ignore the Human Rights of Others: But there should be no Others, just Us

Reflections from Edward Horgan, Veterans for Peace and Shannonwatch

While I was on my way to Shannon airport just before 9am this morning, John Bowman ended his programme on RTE radio with Edith Piaf hauntingly singing La Vie En Rose in memory of the terrorist atrocity in Paris. The programme was a tribute to WT Cosgrave first prime minister of the Irish Free State on the 50th anniversary of his death. Air-brushed from the programme, as far as is I could hear, was any mention of Cosgrave's decision to approve the execution without trial of 77 republican prisoners during the Civil War, an inconvenient war crime.

Responding to Paris Attacks

Shannonwatch is shocked and saddened by the brutal attacks on innocent people in Paris on Friday 13th November, and unequivocally condemns them.

It is clear that France is under attack from Islamic State (IS) terrorists, and while it must do everything it can to prevent further attacks this may prove difficult. "France will be merciless against the barbarians of Daesh," president François Hollande said on Saturday, using the pejorative, Arabic abbreviation for IS. His immediate call for such a response to the barbarism is understandable, but it needs to be balanced with calm analysis linking it to the root causes and the West's role in exacerbating those.

In claiming responsibility for the attacks in a statement released online on Saturday, IS blamed France's participation in US-led airstrikes against its forces and positions in Syria. France, like the US and UK, has taken an active role in attempting to impose a military solution to a long running civil war involving several brutal and heavily armed groups, including the government.

Three US Navy C-40A Clippers at Shannon in Six Days

Today November 12th, saw the third US Navy Boeing C-40A "Clipper" at Shannon in six days. It is a relatively new aircraft, registration 168980, and its first visit to Shannon was on 16th August this year. it is operated by Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 (VR-61).

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget, warplanes are still being refuelled at Shannon Airport and this is certainly helping to refuel wars in the Middle East.

Today Sat 7th Nov at 1pm, there were three US warplanes at Shannon Airport. One Hercules C130 was just taking off. Another was still in the so-called "secure" parking area; this was a C130H belonging to ANG Savanah, Georgia, and operated by 165 Air Lift Wing. The registration number was 800321. Unusually it rear tail-gate was open, and in the photograph taken by Shannonwatch a US soldier can be seen standing on the right side of the tailgate. It is not clear what the object visible to his left as we look at it, inside the aircraft, was. It may have been a vehicle, and possible an armoured vehicle.

More US Air Force Aerial Refuellers at Shannon

This morning, Sunday Oct 25th, Shannonwatch recorded two US Air Force KC10 mid air refuelling warplanes at Shannon. They may have been 'resting' or stocking up on fuel after refuelling fighter aircraft in or near Irish airspace.

Last Wednesday 21st October six US marine corps F18 Hornet fighter aircraft were making the journey from the Middle East back to the USA via the UK. One of these F18 aircraft crashed in Cambridgeshire reportedly after failing to make a mid air refuelling linkup. These six F18 fighters had most likely been involved in bombing campaigns in the Middle East. They had travelled from Bahrain. We don't know why there were returning to the US - it may have been for upgrading. The pilot of the crashed jet ejected but was killed.

More Questions for the Irish Government - this Time about Yemen

Map from CommonDreams article (April 2015) The Collapse of the Obama Doctrine: Yemen War as an Opportunity?

Over the years there have been regular movements of US military refuelling planes through Shannon. The government won't tell us why they land there however. Are they refuelling US military planes just outside Irish airspace? Are they collecting cheap fuel? Are they on their way to warzones to re-fuel fighter jets?

These type of planes are currently engaged in ongoing aerial refuelling sorties in support of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. They began this in April, linking up with F-16s from the United Arab Emirates and with Saudi F-15s somewhere outside Yemeni airspace.

Warplanes At Shannon Today

War has not gone away from Shannon Airport. Today (Oct 17th) at about 2pm there were no less than three Omni Air International chartered aircraft being refuelled at Shannon. The capacity of Omni Air aircraft varies from 240 passengers and up to 380 passengers. But these planes are not carrying ordinary passengers. They are carrying US soldiers, and each soldier normally brings an automatic rifle and an automatic pistol with him or her.

Today up to a full battalion of US troops probably passed through Shannon in a supposedly neutral country.

Did Aircraft that Bombed Hospital in Kunduz Pass Through Ireland?

Reports indicate that the horrific bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan by the US Air Force may have been carried out by one of their AC-130 aircraft. Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to immediately investigate and clarify if the aircraft involved passed through Shannon Airport or Irish airspace on its way to Afghanistan.

"The US hit a very large hospital full of wounded patients", said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. "They killed 22 people, including 3 children, and they continued to bomb the hospital for 30 minutes after MSF had informed the US military that the hospital was under attack. This would appear to be a war crime, and it is one that Ireland may be implicated in."

"The US aircraft that carried out this bombing may well have been authorised by the Irish Government to land and refuel at Shannon Airport, or fly through Irish airspace when it was being deployed to Afghanistan" said Mr Horgan.