Minister Gilmore Claims that US Military Flights through Shannon are Not on Military Operations

In a statement that seems to defy logic, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamonn Gilmore claimed this week that none of the 548 US military aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport in 2012 were carrying arms, ammunition or explosives. He also claimed there was no evidence to suggest they were involved in military exercises or operations.

According to John Lannon of Shannonwatch who monitor military traffic through the airport, it is extremely unlikely that this is the case. "When US President Barack Obama visited Ireland in June 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny assured him of a no-change policy in respect of the use of Shannon by the US military. That policy included the airport's use in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which were most certainly military operations" said Mr. Lannon.

Retired US Army Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright ralso expressed doubts about the Minister's statement. "I have never heard of any such US military flights where there were not armed personnel, at least for securing the plane," said Col. Wright.

'The Irish Republic, the United States and the Iraq War: A Critical Appraisal' - 10 years on

Back in 2003 Kieran Allen and Colin Coulter produced a well researched booklet entitled 'The Irish Republic, the United States and the Iraq War: A Critical Appraisal'. It outlined the effective transformation of Shannon into a US military installation, saying it was deeply offensive to the overwhelming majority of Irish people. The booklet showed how the Irish government at the time was guided more by a concern to accommodate the demands of the Bush administration than to serve the interests of its own citizens.  Initially the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowan seemed content to say little about what was going on at Shannon in the hope that the controversy surrounding it would blow over.  As popular pressure began to mount however, Mr Cowen began to resort to a series of evasions and half-truths in order to conceal the full scale of Irish collusion in the US war drive. But he economy with which Mr Cowen chose to handle the awful truth of what was happening at Shannon tended merely to further expose en entirely shameless government that held in utter contempt those people it was supposed to serve.

A decade later the only thing that has changed is the people in government. Instead of a Fianna Fail Minister for Foreign Affairs who uses evasions and half-truths to conceal Irish collusion in the US war drive, we now have a Labour minister who does exactly the same. Like his predecessor, Eamonn Gilmore has mislead the Dail and the Irish people on numerous occasions in relation to Shannon, the US military and the CIA. And he consistently refuses to investigate its known involvement in renditions.

Allen and Coulter's conclusion in 2003 was that the conduct of the political establishment in Dublin was consistently determined not by the welfare of the Irish people but rather by the insatiable imperial demands of the "fanatics" running the United States, Sadly this still holds true, There are still major lessons to be learned, and changes to be brought about in terms of Irish foreign policy. And given that little has changed since 2003, it is informative to revisit 'The Irish Republic, the United States and the Iraq War: A Critical Appraisal' and to examine how and when the abandonment of Irish neutrality began.

The text of the booklet is reproduced here in full.

Sinn Fein reaffirms opposition to NATO membership and calls for inspection of aircraft at Shannon

As Irish neutrality continues to be eroded, and the secretary general of NATO gets fawned over by our government politicians and media, its nice to see one political party taking a clear position on these matters. At their Ard Fheis in Castlebar last weekend Sinn Fein reaffirmed their opposition to membership of NATO and to the increasing militarisation of the EU. They also called on the Irish government to inspect US state aircraft passing through Shannon Airport with a view to detecting and/or preventing the compliance of the Irish State in renditions.

Solidarity with Guantánamo prisoners at Shannon

Activists from Dublin, Galway and Limerick gathered in Shannon today to call for the closure of Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre and to demand a full investigation of Shannon's involvement in the unjust detention and torture of hundreds of men there.

166 men remain imprisoned in Guantánamo despite President Obama’s promise to close it. Obama made that promise when he first took office in January 2009, and despite the fact that over half of the men being held (86 in total) were cleared for release by an inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force in 2009.

In recent months the men have been subjected to aggressive cell searches which included the seizure of personal items and the manhandling of their copies of the Koran. In despair, and after 11 years of imprisonment without trial, over a hundred of them have resorted to hunger strike.

Hunger Strike at Guantánamo - Last Resort for Men Being Detained Without Charge or Trial Obama's promises to close Guantánamo Bay detention centre, a total of 166 men are still being held there. The vast majority of these have been imprisoned for more than 11 years without any charge and without a fair trial. 86 of them have even been cleared for release by the Obama administration, yet they remain in captivity.

A recent Global Reaearch article points out that these men are been lawlessly held in Guantánamo. They’ve been tortured, abused and ill-treated. They’ve been denied their fundamental rights. And in order to keep them there US Supreme Court decisions were bypassed.

I am Bradley Manning

From our friends in Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW). Well done to them for highlighting the case and plight of Bradley Manning ....

Here you have Bradley Manning one thousand days in prison. I hope that in a military court martial that begins in June that the ultimate resolution to it is that Bradley Manning does not have to spend the rest of his life in jail. But I’m not too sure about that….I think the US Government is going to make an example out of Bradley Manning. They want to scare everyone. They don’t want whistleblowers.” Retired US Colonel Ann Wright speaking in Galway 18th February 2013