Minister Makes More Excuses for the Failure to Search US Aircraft at Shannon

The Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter has claimed that the Garda Síochána has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft at Shannon or other airports because they enjoy sovereign immunity. In effect this means that the government allows the US military to take whatever or whoever they want through Ireland, regardless of the human rights, security and other consequences.

The statement was made in response to Clare Daly TD who asked the Minister whether or not the Government or the Garda Commissioner has instructed Gardaí at Shannon not to search US military aircraft, or chartered aircraft transporting US troops, or aircraft associated with the CIA.

According to Minister Shatter the Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions, and these apply to aircraft as much as to any other type of private property.  

He was talking here about civilian as opposed to military aircraft.

Ireland, Global Wars and US Army Field Manual 3-07

This blog is a summary of a presentation by John Lannon of Shannonwatch to the Afri Hedge School 2013 'Resources, Conflict & Climate Change: The Links' in IT Blanchardstown on 5th November.

I recently had cause to read the US Army Field Manual 3-07 (FM 3-07), also known as their Stability Operations Field Manual. It's supposed to be a roadmap from conflict to peace, a practical guide to nation-building - which is defined as the process of structuring a national identity using the power of the state.

The opening few lines of the Field Manual are quite telling in terms of the real intent:

"Today, the Nation remains engaged in an era of persistent conflict against enemies intent on limiting American access and influence throughout the world. This is a fundamental clash of ideologies and cultures, waged across societal abysses separating rich ethnic and religious traditions and profound differences in perspective."

Minister Confirms Fixed Weapon on U.S. Aircraft at Shannon

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has had to concede that his statements about US military planes at Shannon not having weapons were incorrect. On Oct 15th, in answer to a parliamentary question, he said "I am aware of one landing at Shannon Airport ... in which a US military aircraft, contrary to notification, was found to be armed with a fixed weapon". He claimed that the landing, which was on September 5th, was an "administrative error".

The aircraft in question was a US Air Force Hercules AC-130W, registration 87-9288. It arrived in Shannon on September 5th and departed the following day.

Its important to reiterate here that we're talking about an armed aircraft at Shannon, not a pistol held by the crew, or personal weapons like rifles and pistols that come through all the time. The aircraft in question has a 30mm cannon and a laser guided missile system. So this is an large weapon, designed to cause great damage and potentially great loss of life. And it was sitting at the airport in Shannon, in "neutral" Ireland.

Twelve Years of Occupation in Afghanistan Remembered at Shannon

The twelfth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was marked by a peace vigil at Shannon on Oct 13th that was attended by close to 40 people. Gardai maintained an overt presence, despite the peaceful nature of this and all previous vigils. They were reminded of their responsibilities to uphold the law by those attending the vigil, and to end the practice of turning a blind eye to the warplanes passing through Shannon. As always, they maintained a stony silence when asked if they were concerned in any way about who or what might be on those planes.

Beyond the Law: the US Military at Shannon Airport

From Look Left magazine, originally published in September 2013

US Military Hercules transport aircraft at Shannon Airport

Over the last ten years 2.2 million U.S troops have passed through Shannon Airport, with 250,000 transiting though the facility in 2011 alone. Nearly every day large carrier planes packed with military personnel touch down in a supposedly neutral country, their passengers often disembarking in full uniform to purchase souvenirs of their visit.

Abolition of Seanad could Pose Increased Dangers for Peace & Neutrality Issues Say Campaigners

Irish neutrality is once again a referendum issue as a number of prominent Peace and Neutrality campaigners come together to call for No vote on the amendment to abolish the Seanad. The group includes retired Army Commandant Edward Horgan, peace campaigner John Lannon of Shannonwatch, Professor John Maguire of UCC, Galway Councillor Catherine Connolly, Galway Alliance Against War activist Niall Farrell and former Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna.  In a letter issued to national newspapers today the group warns of the negative impact Seanad abolition could have for the peace and neutrality agenda.

John Lannon of Shannonwatch warned that the abolition of the Seanad will make the adoption of EU decisions and legislation easier for a government that is determined to do so, even if those decisions are inconsistent with the stated views of the Irish people. Edward Horgan stressed that abolishing the Seanad will eliminate the chance of ever establishing a reformed institution that could scrutinise future EU military issues and will make it less problematic for Enda Kenny and his successors to pass controversial legislation.

New Red C Poll Shows that Irish People Want Neutrality

Over three quarters of Irish people believe Ireland should have a policy of neutrality according to a new Red C poll commissioned by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). The poll also shows that roughly 8 out of 10 people believe Ireland should not support military intervention in Syria without a UN mandate.

According to Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon these findings seriously undermine government policy. "The government has got to realise now that allowing the U.S. military to use Shannon Airport is unacceptable. It was never sanctioned by the Irish people, and clearly it is something that people don't want.

Council of Europe Says Governments that Supported Renditions must Investigate and Atone for their Actions

In a strongly worded statement marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner has said that to date countries in Europe “still have to fully account for their co-operation with the unlawful US programme, in particular as concerns the use of their airspace and airports for suspected rendition flights, capture and transfer of individuals to US custody, and participation in interrogation, as well as knowledge of the secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations”.

Lest there be any doubt, lets be clear. That includes Ireland.

Court Report Margareta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell, Ennis District Court, 11 September 2013

Judge Patrick Durkan presiding

Unusually, the case against Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell was dealt with before lunch at Ennis District court yesterday (Wednesday, 11th Sept). Normally cases involving peace activists tend to be postponed until the end of the court session, thereby inconveniencing the peace activists as much as possible. Perhaps it was because Margaretta and Niall were dressed in orange Guantanamo style boiler suits that the authorities decided to get them out of court as quickly as possible.

Report on a Busy Weekend of Action at Shannon

Two days of action at Shannon Airport this weekend, in which we once again highlighted its links to human rights abuses and unjustified wars, were marked by contrasting attitudes by the State authorities. On the first, a solidarity fast for the prisoners at Guantanamo saw little more than occasional observation by the Gardai. On the second, they maintained a large and unnecessary presence that blocked participants' access to the airport.