Shannonwatch Calls for Support for Mick Wallace and Clare Daly on Day 2 of their Trial

TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly are back in court in Ennis at 2pm on Tuesday March 10th as a result of their attempt to inspect a US military aircraft at Shannon Airport.

This is the second day of a case that has already heard evidence from a number of witnesses who outlined the problematic nature of the US military presence at Shannon. These witnesses included Irish Times Security Analyst Dr Tom Clonan, former UN Deputy Secretary Denis Halliday, international lawyer and neutrality expert Roberto Zamora, and Dr Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch.

Too Many US Military Aircraft Emergencies at Shannon

Less than a week after we had an emergency landing of a US military aircraft used in electronic warfare at Shannon Airport, we've had another emergency landing by another of the US's military aircraft.

EC-130H electronic warfare aircraft at Shannon on March 1st, after making emergency landing

Early on the morning of Saturday 28th Feb an EC-130H 'Compass Call', which is a variant of the Hercules C-130 that operates in an airborne tactical weapon system role to disrupt enemy command and control communications, landed after suffering engine problems. As the Clare Herald reported, Shannon Airport’s emergency plan was quickly implemented with units of the fire brigade from Shannon and Ennis along with ambulances from Limerick and Ennis being sent to the airport in support of the airport’s own fire and rescue service.

Court Case Highlights Issues Relating to US Military and CIA Use of Shannon Airport

On Tuesday 24th February the first part of the State's case against TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly took place. The case was adjourned until March 10th at 2pm (again in Ennis court) when a number of defence witnesses plus Mick and Clare themselves will give evidence.

Mick and Clare are in court because they climbed a fence and walked towards an US military plane at Shannon in order to inspect it.

We will provide a full report and analysis of the case when it has concluded, but for now it is sufficient to note the main contributors to date. Airport Police officers and Gardai have already given evidence for the State, and five witnesses have presented evidence in support of the defence. The first of these was Irish Times Security Analyst Dr Tom Clonan. Some of the key points of his contribution are outlined here. UN Deputy Secretary Denis Halliday, international lawyer and neutrality expert Roberto Zamora, and Dr Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch also appeared as witnesses. In addition, a former worker at Shannon gave evidence of routinely seeing guns stored in overhead lockers and under seats on US troop carriers. He also spoke about seeing other US planes that remained far away from the terminal building and which he and other workers were not allowed onto while delivering food. These were what workers referred to as the "rendition planes".

Shannonwatch Call for Support for TDs Who Attempted to Inspect US Military Airplane

Shannonwatch are urging their supporters to come to Ennis District Court on Tuesday February 24th to support TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who attempted to inspect a US military plane at Shannon last July. Their alleged offence is illegal entrance into a restricted area of the airport, and their action was in response to the failure of the authorities to inspect US aircraft at Shannon.

Shannonwatch have repeatedly called for an end to the US military use of Shannon. They also call for inspection of all military and suspected CIA aircraft at the airport for as long as they are being allowed to pass through.

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have made it clear that as legislators and as citizens they have a responsibility to uphold Irish neutrality. They have made every attempt inside the Dáil to highlight Ireland's complicity in war at Shannon, but the government has refused to allow the Gardai to inspect US military aircraft.

Costa Rican Human Rights Lawyer to Speak on Neutrality

Between Feb 20th and 25th a series of talks will take place around Ireland by human rights lawyer Roberto Zamora who challenged the Costa Rican government on breaches of neutrality under its Constitution and won. The talks are particularly relevant to Ireland at this time, as two bills on neutrality come up for discussion in the Dail in the coming weeks.

Roberto Zamora is an independent attorney who works mostly on constitutional affairs and litigation for the protection of human rights. As a college student he challenged Costa Rican President Pacheco's decision to support the US/UK led aggression on Iraq. The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled the support as unconstitutional, and ordered the country's withdrawal from the coalition. He also successfully challenged a presidential decision to allow the manufacture of nuclear fuel and nuclear reactors "for all purposes" in Costa Rica. 

We Are Supporting the Killers of 13 Year Old Mohammed Tuaiman

Earlier this week The Guardian wrote a piece about a 13-year-old boy called Mohammed Tuaiman who had been killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen. A few months before he was killed Mohammed had said that he lived in constant fear of the "death machines" in the sky. "I see them every day and we are scared of them," he said. "A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep."

In 2011 another US drone killed Mohammed's father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family's camels.

Throughout his short like Mohammed suffered more than any boy should suffer. At 13 he was burned to death by a piece of US technology that was designed and deployed to kill.

Ministerial Answers and Non-Answers

Since 2001 Irish governments have done everything in their power to ensure that the US military have unimpeded passage through Irish airspace and Shannon Airport. Over the years Shannonwatch have worked with supportive TDs in an attempt to challenge this, and to get some insight into how the law is being interpreted and abused in order to do so, but to no avail. Ministers consistenty aviod answering questions put to them. They repeat the same old mantras about sovereign immunity, longstanding practices, and US assurances. And above all they do their best to make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get to grips with what is really going on.

This article is an attempt to explain some of what we know, to report on the latest details gleaned from Ministerial answers to parliamentary questions, and to highlight the continuing obfuscation. It is disappointing, to say the least, that we cannot get the information we are entitled to in relation to the US military use of Shannon. We are quite accustomed to this of course, but that doesn't make it easier to accept.

Irish Government Hypocrisy over Foreign Warplanes Along the Irish Coast

Foreign military plane landed at Shannon this evening (1st Feb 2015). No government or media outcry about this.

The Irish Government and media appear to be in a panic about two Russian TU-95 bomber aircraft that flew down the west coast of Ireland at least 50 miles out to sea, and not through Irish sovereign airspace. A statement issued by the Irish Department of Defence said "non-controlled and non-notified flight activity by Russian aircraft is not acceptable". This same Department of Defence of a supposedly neutral Irish state has issued no such statements about the transit of almost two and half million US troops through Shannon airport since 2001, and provides Irish soldiers to guard US military aircraft at Shannon. 

Questions Still Remain About Shannon's Role in Guantanamo

Originally published in Irish Examiner, 19 Jan 2014

It's been revealed (Amy Goodman, Democracy Now) that a secret CIA "Black Site" prison existed within Guantanamo in which prisoners may have been tortured and subjected to mind altering drugs. 

A book by a former US sergeant at Guantanamo, Joseph Hickman, raises claims that three prisoners alleged to have committed suicide in 2006 may have died instead due to torture.

Mani al-Utaybi, and Yasser al-Zahrani from Saudi Arabia were already approved for release.

A review of Ali Abdullah Ahmed's case revealed "no evidence of terrorist involvement".

In 2008, Murat Kurnaz, a former detainee revealed in his memoir, that all the other prisoners at Guantanamo concluded the three detainees had been killed.

Ireland Should Respond to Charlie Hebdo Attacks by Ending its Support for Wars Linked to Terrorism

As Europe comes to terms with the recent brutal acts of violence in Paris, Shannonwatch calls for measured and responsible responses from governments, religious leaders and others in positions of influence. In keeping with this call, their monthly peace vigil at Shannon Airport this Sunday 11th January called for an end to the US military use of the airport and demonstration of a more positive neutrality from Ireland.

"We unequivocally condemn the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices and the killings that took place in Paris in the past week" said a Shannonwatch spokesperson. "There is no justification for such violence".

"Incidents of extreme and unjustified violence, combined with discrimination and racism, are occurring with increasingly regularity in societies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Western world. The atrocities committed in France the most recent example but there has also been a significant increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia across Europe, as well as anti-Christian attacks and persecution associated with conflicts in several Middle Eastern states".