TDs Join Protest Against US Military Use of Shannon

As part of the ongoing response to the continuing use of Shannon Airport by the US military, Shannonwatch are holding a vigil outside the airport from 2pm to 3pm on Sunday June 9th. The vigil will be attended by independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who will call for government action in line with its stated commitment to international law and Irish neutrality.

Bradley Manning - On Trial Now for Exposing War Crimes Manning went on trial at Fort Meade in Maryland on Monday, facing 21 charges resulting from the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified digital files to WikiLeaks. His "crime" was to expose the truth about the much more serious US war crimes and about their secret foreign policy dealings. His punishment, if the US government have their way, will be life imprisonment.

Details of Shannon Involvement in Renditions Published by The Rendition Project

A groundbreaking research project mapping the US government's programme of global rendition has just been launched. It is called The Rendition Project, and it contains a database of over 11,000 pieces of data on confirmed and suspected rendition flights and other flights from related carriers. Over 350 of these flights came through Shannon Airport.

Lockheed Deliver 3 New Hercules C-130's to the Iraqi Air Force Through Shannon

An Iraqi Air Force Hercules (photo: Lockheed Martin)

Just after midnight on Wednesday night of this week (May 1st), three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft being supplied to the Iraqi Air Force by Lockheed Martin touched down at Shannon Airport. They were enroute from the US to Iraq, and were accompanied by 2 US Air Force Hercules.

The Iraqi Air Force's new C-130s lined up on the tarmac at Shannon one behind the other,  with the US aircraft parked at either end. All five used USAF callsigns; the ones with the Iraqi markings were RCH975, RCH999 and RCH410. And the serial numbers of the Iraqi aircraft were YI-309, YI-307 and YI-308.

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.