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.

Review of Overflights and Landings by US Military Aircraft in Ireland is Long Overdue

US military aircraft at Shannon. April 9th 2016.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan has claimed that arrangements for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft at Irish airports and in Irish airspace are kept under ongoing review. There is little evidence of any review of the daily overflights and landings by the US military. But in light of the current ramping up of military aggression around the world by the US, including the illegal and counterproductive air strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, it is now time for an urgent review of our support for their military aggression.

US Warship that fired Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Baghdad on 20 March 2003 is now in Cobh

A US warship the USS Donald Cook has arrived in Cobh harbour today Tuesday 21st March. It is likely that it will be refuelled while in Cobh, but It is no more welcome in an Irish port, than the US war planes that are being refuelled at Shannon airport on a daily basis.

The USS Donald Cook is a destroyer, equipped with the following weapons (and probably much more besides).

"DONALD COOK's vertical launching system can launch long-range surface-to-surface Tomahawk cruise missiles, surface-to-air Standard missile variants, and anti-ballistic missile Standard missile variants. The 5-inch gun mount, 20-mm Phalanx mounts, and hull mounted crew-served weapons can engage surface, air, and land targets with precision."

"March 20, 2003, USS Donald Cook launched first Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), in the early morning hours, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom".

Another Day in Court for Colm Roddy

Colm Roddy was "up for mention" at Ennis District Court today as a result of efforts by himself and Dave Donnellan to search two US military aircraft at Shannon Airport almost one year ago. Judge Durcan, who last November had struck out the charges against Colm Roddy had initially forgotten his previous dismissal of these charges, and then when he remembered, sought more information from the prosecution about the DPP's decision to overturn Judge Durcan's ruling in November. Inspector Kennedy was not in court and the prosecuting inspector knww nothing of te case, so the matter was adjourned once again to Wed 26th April.

Full report from our Court correspondent ...

What Kenny Won't but Should Say to Trump on St Patrick's Day

Enda Kenny handed over our neutrality and Shannon Airport to Obama. Time to take them back when he meets Trump.

On Friday, St Patrick's Day, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will pay homage to the man he called racist last year, Donald Trump.

When they meet there will be no mention of our neutrality, or the millions of mwn, women and children we have helped Trump's predecessors to kill in the Middle East.

No mention of the continued use of Shannon to kill and main.

No mention of the recent revelation that the US used depleted uranium in Syria in 2015.

Or the expected $60bn Trump will spend on military interference in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries in the next year. Trump is increasing the military budget as a whole to close to $1trillion.

There will be no mention of Trump's determination to ramp up the nuclear arms race.

Remembering the Children who have Died because of War in the Middle East

Reading the name of Nawar al Awlaki, killed by US special forces in Yemen on 29th January 2017

Our Peace Vigil at Shannon today was a windy affair but Spring was in the air, so the joys of the season should have been evident. However Shannonwatch and other NGO research has revealed that war related deaths of children in the Middle East since the 1991 First Gulf War may have amounted to up to one million children dead. Since we in Ireland have been partly complicit in these deaths as a result of US military use of Shannon Airport we had started a project to try and put names on as many of these children who have died as possible. To us and of course to their families these children's deaths are not just "collateral damage".