Shannon Protests are not Going Away

Last month the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar expressed surprise that the number of protests at Shannon Airport has increased in the past two years despite a two-thirds drop in US military flights in the same period. We're glad he's noticed our peace efforts and we can assure him there will be plenty more.

This weekend showed that the protests are definitely not going away until such time as the US military use of the airport ends. On Saturday International Women's Day was marked by a gathering at the site of the original women's peace camp from 2002/2003 (see separate report). And on Sunday people gathered to once again demand an end to the ongoing US military use of the airport, and to show their solidarity with imprisoned peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy.

Report on International Women's Day Peace Camp at Shannon

Fiona Wheeler

On Saturday, 8th March 2014, one of the windiest days ever experienced at Shannon, a Peace Camp was held to celebrate International Women's Day. It was just over eleven years since the initial Peace Camp had been established there,  prior to the  invasion of Iraq in March 2003. One of the original founders of the camp, Margaretta D'Arcy,  is currently in Mountjoy prison serving a three month sentence for going onto the runway and refusing to sign a bond  undertaking not to  do so again  to protest against the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the U.S. Military.   

Apparently Ireland is a neutral country, at least according to Bunreacht na hÉireann / The Irish Constitution it is. Irish Neutrality is, however,  'more honoured in the breach than in the observance', especially at Shannon Airport.

Almost 70,000 Armed Soldiers Through Shannon in 2013

An Omni Air International troop carrier parked at Shannon Airport

The Minister for Transport reported last week that 69,840 U.S. troops passed through Shannon in 2013. While this was down on the 101,108 that passed through in 2012, it is still equivalent to an army 7 times the size of the Irish defence forces. And it is still unacceptable, as the Irish people have not given their permission for any foreign troops to pass through Irish territory - or airspace.

The Minister, Leo Varadkar, also revealed that almost 700 "civilian" aircraft carried munitions through or over Ireland in 2013. Presumably most of these would have been U.S. troop carriers, as all 69,840 U.S. troops that came through Shannon would have had guns with them.

Free Margaretta D’Arcy, Free Shannon: Global Women's Strike Statement to the Press and the Public

Global Women's Strike, 14 February 2014

We are outraged to learn that our dear sister and colleague Margaretta D'Arcy has been jailed - and for three months! - for protesting the use of the civilian airport at Shannon for US wars. And we are deeply worried about her health and well-being as a cancer patient. One of the many public services Ms D'Arcy has performed is to protest the Irish government's many years of complicity in US war crimes and its destruction of Irish neutrality. She has been dedicated to highlighting that the most devastating impact of war is on women and our children, both directly from the bombs that rain down on us, and by paying with our poverty for the horrendous weapons of massive destruction that surround us all.

D’Arcy Says Minister Should Stop Defending the Indefensible

Imprisoned peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy has reiterated her assertion that Shannon Airport's runway is being used improperly for the purposes of war, and has called on the Minister for Defence Alan Shatter to stop defending the indefensible military use of the airport. Speaking to John Lannon and Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch this Monday, she said that the State has a responsibility to ensure the proper use of the airport and to protect it against security threats.

"The fact that Niall Farrell and I could walk out onto the runway at Shannon demonstrates that it is not secure." said Ms D'Arcy. "The military use of the airport presents grave risks to the people in the airport or living nearby, as well as being in contravention of international laws and against the wishes of the majority of Irish people".

Large Turnout at Demonstration in Shannon

A crowd of 100 or more people turned out today in Shannon to demand an end to the U.S. military use of the airport. People travelled from Dublin, Galway, Cork and elsewhere to join locals for the regular monthly demonstration against the airport's complicity in war and human rights violations. This month's event had special significance as it called for the immediate release of peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy whose principled stand against the shameful misuse of Shannon has resulted in her imprisonment by the State.

The crowd included former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, TD's Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein). It also included Vietnam veteran Joseph Bangert who addressed the crowd, and expressed U.S. solidarity with Margaretta and everyone protesting at Shannon.