Shannon Airport has been used by the US military on their way to/from Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. It has also operated as a stopover point for CIA rendition planes. All this came about without the permission of the Irish people. As a result we are all complicit in gross violations of human rights, the killing of innocent civilians, and unending cycles of suffering for millions of people.
Since 2002 over 2.5 million US troops have gone through Shannon Airport. The numbers were at their highest in 2005 when Shannon facilitated 341,000 soldiers on their way to war. The figures for 2012 were less than half that number, but this decrease does not in any way diminish Ireland's complicity in war.
US military flights continue to land at Shannon every week. The aircraft include U.S. troop carriers, U.S. Air Force and Navy C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, in-flight refuellers, executive jets and others.
Most of the US troops passing through Shannon are on board flights that are classified as "civilian". These are governed by the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation (known as the Chicago Convention). Most of the troop carriers are operated by Omni Air International or Sun Country Alliance. The Irish government has acknowledged that many of these aircraft are permitted to carry weapons on board (see Permits Issued to Carry Munitions of War through Ireland or Irish Airspace).
In addition to the US troop flights, aircraft operated directly by the US Air Force and Navy also pass through Shannon. Quite extraordinarily, the Irish government claims that these are all completely unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and are part of military exercises or operations. This is desipte the fact that in September 2013 a Hercules C-130 with a 30mm cannon mounted on the side was photographed at Shannon.
For a foreign military aircraft to land at at Irish airport or even to pass through Irish airspace, permission must be granted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2015 he granted permission to 647 aircraft - the vast majority of these (approximately 90%) were for US military aircraft although a small number of permits were issues to military aircraft from Bahrain, Belgium, Egypt, France, Italy, Libya, Malaysia, Panama and Russia.
|Year||Number of permits granted for military aircraft to land at Shannon
A much larger number of military aircraft pass through Irish airspace. For example, in the 12 months up to 1st July 2014, 1546 military aircraft were given permission to pass through Irish airspace. Almost 80% of these were US military planes.
The Chicage Convention states that "no munitions of war may be carried in or above the territory of another State in aircraft engaged in international navigation, except by permission of such State". This only covers the so-called "civilian" aircraft that are carrying troops and cargo. In Ireland the Minister for Transport routinely receives requests to carry munitions from aircraft landing at Shannon or passing through Irish airspace. The vast majority of these requests are from aircraft chartered by the US military.
The number of requests made and permits granted to carry munitions are as follows:
|YEAR||NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS MADE||NUMBER OF PERMITS ISSUED|
Of the 606 requests received in 2014, 566 were from the US - thats 93% of the requests.
In 2013 the vast majority of requests also came from USA airlines. Applications also came from airlines from the UK, Ukraine, Turkey and Portugal. Of the 693 flights for which permits were granted, 357 landed in Ireland (mostly at Shannon); the rest were overflights.
In 2012 the breakdown was as follows: US 758 (92%), United Arab Emirates 32, UK 9, Switzerland 3, Russia 2, Portugal 2, Ukraine 1. The number that were for aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport was 557.
Shannonwatch routinely logs military-related aircraft landing at Shannon. Not all landings have been recorded, but details of those that have can be made available on request. Contact us for more details.