Mother's Day at Shannon Airport

Edward Horgan

So its happy Mother's Day isn't it. Lets hope some of the thousands, and more likely tens of thousands, of mothers, will have a happy Mother's Day, as they flee from the conflicts in the Middle East with their little children , as they huddle at the razor wire fences, in the snow and rain, on the borders with Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Slovakia, being refused refugee protection.

At Shannon Airport this morning it was cold, wet and windy, but I was dressed in warm clothing and was able to go the Park Inn hotel and warm up with tea and a scone after taking the photos below.

There were three US warplanes at Shannon airport this morning. One was a large C17 US Air Force, Air Mobility Command, Charleston Air Force base, and its registration number was 77180. It was on its way to Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf, and most likely delivering armed US troops and munitions into one or more of the war zones, in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq or Syria. This aircraft is quite capable of transport several deadly Drones that are killing dozens of people each week in the Middle East.

Shannon Airport, Drones and Jordan

At Shannon Airport this morning a US Navy, C40 Clipper aircraft number 6694 was being protected by an Irish army patrol. The aircraft is part of a Fleet Logistics Squadron based in Virginia, and its not its first time at Shannon.

We don't know what this aircraft was transporting, but we can be sure it was being operated by US Navy personnel as crew members, and it was either going to or from a military operation or military exercise of some sort, in clear contravention of US and Irish Government assurances that all such US military aircraft are not engaged in military operations, or military exercises, and not carrying any weapons or munitions of any sort.

Election Candidates Take a Stand on Irish Foreign Policy

A total of 116 candidates have committed to restoring Ireland's neutrality in response to a Peace Pledge drafted by the main peace and anti-war groups in Ireland. These candidates have said they will only support or join a Government that is prepared to end the US military use of Shannon Airport.

"This is a very important commitment in terms of Ireland's foreign policy" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch, one of the organisations behind the Peace Pledge. "It is also in line with the wishes of the Irish people. Polls consistently show that over two thirds of the population want a neutral Ireland that is not involved in wars of aggression or occupation. But by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base we are contributing to war and human rights abuse. The next government must end this practice and restore Irish neutrality."

All 50 Sinn Fein candidates are committed to supporting the Peace Pledge as are the Anti Austerity Alliance / People before Profit and the Workers Party. A number of candidates from the Green Party, Social Democrats and other parties, as well as Independents, have also signed up.

Many Reasons to be Worried about National Air Cargo Presence at Shannon

On February 14th Shannonwatch recorded a Boeing 747-428BCF ("Boeing Converted Freighter") operated by National Air Cargo Group parked at Stand 42 at Shannon Airport. On Monday it left for the US Air Force Force Base at Dover. This is located in Delaware and is home to part of the US Air Force Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command.

We know that National operates flights on behalf of the US military. Under information obtained from the Department of Transport through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests we know they took troops and weapons through Shannon 13 times in 2014, and were given a permit to take an aircraft with cartridges and small arms through Irish airspace in January of that year.

Has Shannon Airport been Handed Over Fully to the US Military?

At noon today, Saturday 6th February, there were no scheduled civilian aircraft delivering or collecting passengers at Shannon Airport. It is starting to look like a deserted World War II airfield; there was one chartered executive jet being refuelled, and one US warplane. The latter was a US Navy C40, and it was being protected by Irish army and Garda patrol cars.

Shannonwatch member Edward Horgan went to Shannon Garda Station at 12.25 pm and handed in the following written statement:

Election Candidates Asked to Pledge Themselves to Peace

Five organisations have come together to call on general election candidates to commit to ending the US military use of Shannon Airport. In a joint initiative, Shannonwatch, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) and Veterans for Peace (VfP) Ireland are all calling for candidates and parties to bar military traffic from any country involved in war from landing on Irish soil or from using Irish airspace.

Launching the Peace Pledge initiative, John Lannon of Shannonwatch said: "Since October 2001, Ireland has provided direct support for unilateral military interventions by the US and its NATO allies, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. This support has included the transit of at least 2.5 million armed troops plus additional military aircraft through Shannon Airport. Given the devastation caused by these and other US/NATO military interventions, it is time to stop supporting them."

Petitions Committee Report Fails to Reflect Seriousness of Shannonwatch Submission

Over 3 years ago Shannonwatch submitted a Petition to the The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on the issue of US Military and CIA use of Shannon airport. The wheels of government work slowly, and the Committee issued its final report today. The full report can be viewed here.

The Committee, and in particular to Chairperson, Pádraig MacLochlainn TD, did quite a comprehensive investigation into the petition, including meeting with a delegation from Shannonwatch that included Edward Horhgan, John Lannon and Margaretta D'Arcy at Leinster House, and a further series of meetings at Shannon Airport with representatives of An Garda Siochana, Shannon airport authority and Edward Horgan on behalf of Shannonwatch.

Rule of International Law Should Protect the Powerless, not the Powerful

In a letter to the Irish Examiner, Shannonwatch's Edward Horgan points out that that double speak around Putin shouldn't surprise anyone.

He goes on to note however that the issues involved are deadly serious, not only in individual cases such as the murder of Litvinenko, but also in assassinations and war crimes committed by the governments of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia, and USA.

"Since the foundation of the UN, a litany of crimes has been committed with impunity by these five states, in clear breach of the UN Charter and international laws.

These include: British crimes in Kenya, Malaya; Chinese crimes in Tibet and internally; French crimes in South East Asia, Algeria; USSR/Russian crimes in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan; and US crimes in Latin America, South East Asia, and the Middle East.

Another Day in Court: Case Against Edward Horgan

On January 13th Shannonwatch member Edward Horgan was in court in Ennis as a result of his attempt to search some warplanes. Here's an account of the day:

It was another long day in court, Edward Horgan's third long day so far and his case has not even had a date set for trial yet. This represents just one of the abuses of our justice system. He was summoned to appear in court first on 18th November 2015 on a charge that on 18th April 2015, he did "enter a part of Shannon airport to which persons were not for that time permitted".

Opposing Warplanes at Shannon Today

Today at Shannon the weather was cold but bright and sunny for a change. We had about 25 peace activists at our monthly peace vigil, some travelling from as far away as Letterkenny in north Donegal, others from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Clonmel and more locally. Prior to our peace vigil we had a good meeting to discuss how we can make 2016 a year of critical importance for the peace movement in Ireland.

At the airport itself there was an Omni Air International airplane that may have been transporting up to 300 armed US troops to or from military operations in the Middle East. There was also a small US Marine Corps Cessna UC-35D Citation Encore jet, registration 166715, being protected by an Irish army security detail (see photograph).