The peace and human rights group Shannonwatch have called on the Irish government to avoid using the US military to help keep Shannon Airport open as it struggles to remain viable. In light of the recent Aer Lingus announcement that it was closing its passenger operations at Shannon, Shannonwatch call for a development strategy for the airport that does not include a reliance on the transit of foreign troops and their weapons to keep it open.
Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to explain why troops landing at Shannon on US military and military contracted flights were repeatedly allowed to overnight at local hotels over the last three weeks, despite restrictions on travel in the interests of public health.
On Jan 25th, passengers and crew from a US Navy plane that landed at Shannon were permitted to stay at a Limerick hotel. On Jan 28th, 226 troops from an Omni Air International plane stayed overnight in a number of Limerick hotels. Yet despite the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney saying the US authorities had assured him it would not happen again, it did. On February 8th a US Air Force Special Operations Command Dornier C-140A aircraft spent over 17 hours at Shannon and both crew members and passengers accommodated overnight in a local hotel.
At Dublin Circuit Court today a jury of twelve Irish citizens acquitted peace activists Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan of the charge of alleged criminal damage at Shannon airport over four and a half years ago. The trial by Jury was presided over by Judge Karen O’Connor found both defendants not guilty. They entered Shannon airport on the morning of 25th May 2016 to search and investigate US military aircraft that were being refuelled on their way to and from US wars of aggression. There were two US Air Force aircraft at Shannon at the time of the incident.
Joint Press Statement from Nine Anti-War Organisations in Ireland
Discussions on government formation are taking place in the wake of a demand by the electorate for a serious reshaping of priorities and policies. Issues of housing, education, climate change and of course health are to the fore.
One other topic, so far absent from the debates, must finally and urgently be aired if democracy and sustainability are really to be achieved: the massive realignment of our defence and military policies over recent decades.
Shannonwatch are appalled at the continuing use of Shannon Airport by US military troop carriers, despite the issuing of a stop movement order to the US military by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper on March 25th. This was intended to halt travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, troop carriers have been landing at Shannon as recently as April 10th, 11th and 12th.
At least 23 OMNI Air aircraft carrying US soldiers have passed through Shannon airport since 1st March 2020, and this is ongoing on a daily basis. All these soldiers spend at least two hours within Shannon airport terminal building availing of duty free, restaurant and other facilities and frequently mingle with airport workers and other passengers using the terminal building.
For example, today 19 March 2020, OMNI Air N378AX arrived at Shannon airport from Pristina in Kosovo which is the location of US base Camp Bondsteel. Kosovo is now experiencing a medical and political crisis over coronavirus. This aircraft landed at 05.56 am refueled and took off again towards the USA at about 07.56 am.
These soldiers are being transported to and from the United States and various Middle East and European countries where the coronavirus is a very serious problem.
Peace activists Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan went on trial at Court 7 Dublin Circuit Court today, 2nd March, almost four years after they entered Shannon Airport to attempt to search and investigate US military aircraft that were on their way to and from US wars in the Middle East. They are charged with causing criminal damage to the airport fence and to the runway.
Shannonwatch are calling for an immediate review of the safety standards applied to US military and military contracted planes at Shannon Airport. A fire on an Omni Air International troop carrier brought the airport to a standstill on Thursday August 15th. This once again highlights the dangers posed by daily military traffic at a civilian airport like Shannon.
The troop carrier, which is reported to be carrying approximately 150 troops, was on its way to the Middle East. It had arrived earlier from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma USA.
To coincide with US President Donald Trump's visit to Ireland, protests will be held at Shannon Airport starting at 3pm on June 5th. The US President is expected to land at Shannon that day, to fly out and back again on June 6th, and to leave on June 7th. A Peace Camp will be set up outside the airport for the duration of his visit, including overnight on the 5th and 6th June, and people are invited to spend whatever time they can there in order to maintain an ongoing protest against his presence in Ireland.