Shannonwatch Welcomes Oireachtas Petitions Committee Visit to Shannon

Shannonwatch welcomes the visit to Shannon Airport by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. The visit which took place on October 2nd was a follow-up to a petition by Shannonwatch earlier this year. The petition called for the Government to investigate the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace for the transit of US armed troops, munitions and other war material, as well as for the refuelling of CIA-associated aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition.

During their visit to Shannon, representatives of the Committee met with members of the Gardai including Chief Superintendent John Kerin and with airport officials before meeting again with Shannonwatch. They were informed that about 40,000 US troops had gone through Shannon so far this year. However Shannonwatch understands that airport officials said that US troops were not essential to the economics of Shannon Airport as they contribute relatively little, and that civilian passengers contribute far more with shopping, car parking and so on.

More Ministerial Half-Truths about Neutrality and Shannon

This is what neutrality and non-participation in military alliances looks like at Shannon

Today (24th Sept) Clare Daly TD asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan if he would specify in detail the arrangements that allow the facilitation of the US military on actions that contravene Irish neutrality and the Hague Convention and were not mandated by the United Nations. It was a written parliamentary question, and it got the following uninformative reply:

Ireland's policy of military neutrality is characterised by non-participation in military alliances. This policy has been underpinned by a set of complementary values which includes the protection of human rights; support for development; and the promotion of disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

Is Ireland Backing the Bombing of Syria?

On Sept 1st 2014 the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said "the invasion of Ukraine is against international law & must stop" (RTE News). He made no reference to role of NATO as one of the root causes of the Ukraine conflict.

On 22nd September 2014, the United States and its allies launched air strikes in Syria using warplanes, armed drones, and Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

On Sept 23rd 2014, the same Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan stated in relation to the bombing in Syria, that "people will not be surprised. With regard to the air attacks targets need to be particularly precise, and of course innocent civilians need to be spared".

Weekend of Peace Events Planned for Shannon in October

Shannonwatch are inviting groups and individuals from around Ireland to join them in organising a series of peace events at Shannon Airport on the weekend of October 11th and 12th. The main event of the weekend will be a public demonstration on Sunday 12th at 2pm, calling for an end to the US military use of the airport.

The event is being co-organised and supported by a large number of groups including Shannonwatch, Galway Alliance Against War, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM), Afri, and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). Bus transport is being arranged from Dublin on Sunday 12th and as a result a large turnout is expected (contact details for the bus are given below).

Local Organisations Call on Mayor of Boston to Help Restore Irish Neutrality

The mid-West based human rights organisation Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War welcome the visit of the Mayor of Boston Marty J Walsh, whose parents both come from Connemara, to Shannon and to Ireland. As he arrives into Shannon Airport this Friday morning (19th September) to commence a ten day trip to his ancestral Galway home, they urge him to use his influence to end the unnecessary and counterproductive transit of US troops through the same civilian airport that welcomes him.

"Friendship between the peoples of Ireland and the United States is very important to all concerned and we welcome back the son of Irish parents who were among hundreds of thousands forced to emigrate due to the very flawed economic and social policies pursued by successive Irish Governments up to the present time." said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch.

Shannonwatch and Galway Alliance Against War remind Mayor Walsh that this Irish/United States friendship has been seriously damaged in recent years as a result of the transit of armed US troops and CIA rendition aircraft through Shannon Airport in breach of international laws on neutrality and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Warplanes Arrive While We Demonstrate

As twelve peace activists gathered outside Shannon Airport today to protest against the ongoing involvement of the airport in war, two Hercules C130's arrived close to the terminal building. One took off again before we had a chance to get a photo of it. The other, looked like it would be staying for an overnight, possibly to allow crew to be rested. It was being guarded by the Irish army, with one of our soldiers on patrol on foot close to the aircraft with an automatic rifle.

The plane, which is a US Navy C-130T Hercules, with registration 165160, is a regular visitor to Shannon. But the governmentg won't tell us why.

Ireland on the Margins of NATO, Sharing Responsibilities for War

It will probably surprise many people to know that at least seven Irish Government officials, including one military officer, attended events related to the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales this week. It didn't get much coverage in the mainstream Irish media, probably because the government told them not to cover it, but it's something that should be highlighted and challenged.

In answer to a question from Clare Daly TD, Simon Coveney who is our Minister for Agriculture and other stuff that the government doesn't think is very important (food, the marine and defence), explained that Ireland was invited to attend two meetings at Newport, one for contributors to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and one for Defence Ministers from what are called "Partner" countries.

Imprisonment of Niall Farrell on the Centenary of World War I, for Opposing Ireland’s Involvement in Current Wars

Press Statement from GAAW

"Exactly 100 years ago this Bank Holiday weekend Britain - and therefore Ireland - entered the 1st World War.

On this very day Ireland is holding prisoner Niall Farrell of the Galway Alliance Against War for a peaceful protest, along with Margaretta D'Arcy, at Shannon Airport to highlight the involvement of the Irish State in US wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Farrell's and D'Arcy's anti-war protest was a supremely political statement and in line with the Nuremburg War Trial principle whereby individuals have a duty to oppose crimes against humanity, even if this means acting in conflict with national laws. Yet, the Irish State has denied Niall Farrell political status and he is in effect being criminalised for this peace protest. He is in solitary confinement, 24 hours lockup, without clothes and allowed no visits.

Call for Irish Government to Ensure No Ammunition Supplies to Israel Through Ireland

In recent days the US Department of Defence has confirmed the supply of more ammunition to Israel, despite its ongoing indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza. This will almost certainly result in more carnage and suffering, as Israel continues to use its military might against the captive Palestinian population. Many of the military airlift contractors that are likely to supply this ammunition pass through Shannon Airport regularly. It is vitally important that the Irish authorities do everything they can to ensure these carriers are not assisting the Israeli attacks on Gaza. That includes inspection of contracted US military aircraft, and an end to the granting of permits to take weapons and munitions through Shannon Airport.

Arrest of Niall Farrell of GAAW

Galway Alliance Against War

Niall Farrell of the Galway Alliance Against War is to be arrested on Friday, 1st of August on his return from abroad and sent to Limerick Prison for his involvement in a peace protest with Margaretta D'Arcy last September on the runway at Shannon airport. In June they were found guilty of having "interfered with the proper use" of Shannon airport and given a two week suspended sentence and what approximates to a €100 fine. Both refused to pay the fine or sign a so-called peace bond and Ms D'Arcy has since been imprisoned for her failure to comply with the Ennis District Court's ruling.

Ms D'Arcy (80) and Mr Farrell (61) held the peace protest on the 1st September 2013 as it appeared a US war against Syria was imminent. The two peace activists were involved in a similar action on October 7th 2012, the 11th anniversary of the US war against Afghanistan, in opposition to the use of Shannon's airport by the US military for which Ms D'Arcy was imprisoned for nearly 10 weeks.