Shannonwatch, 28 April 2013
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 reiterated this view. “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.
In total the Department of Foreign Affairs granted permission for the landing of 608 foreign military aircraft at Shannon Airport in 2012. Of these, 548 of these were from the US. According to Minister Gilmore, permission was granted in all cases subject to conditions that the aircraft were unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives, did not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question did not form any part of military exercises or operations.
Gerry Condon of the US organisation Veterans For Peace also expressed his astonishment at Eamon Gilmore’s statement. “If these U.S. military planes were not on military missions, then why did 548 of them need to land at Shannon Airport last year?” he said. ”Do the US and Irish governments take us all for fools?”
Minister Gilmore’s assertions are reminiscent of similar statements made by Brian Cowan when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs. In November 2002 Mr Cowan also stated that permission for US military landings and over-flights was granted on the basis that the aircraft were unarmed, did not carry arms ammunition or explosives and did not form part of a military exercise or operation. However it was public knowledge that the US troops using Shannon were taking part in a military build-up in preparation for war against Iraq, and this was quite clearly “part of a military exercise or operation”. Furthermore after employees at the airport had seen US troops with guns, Minister Cowan was forced to admit publicly that they were in fact carrying their personal weapons.
The US soldiers referred to by Brian Cowan are transported on “civil” aircraft operated by Omni Air International and other companies, rather than “military” aircraft operated directly by the US Air Force or Navy. It is these military aircraft that Minister Gilmore now claims have no weapons on board and are not engaged in military operations.
It is also worth noting that in April 2004 Brian Cowan stated while Minister for Foreign Affairs that in relation to transits through Shannon there is no requirement for the identification of any specific military unit being transported. “It is difficult to understand therefore how Minister Gilmore can be so sure that the troops being transported on Hercules C-130’s or other military planes are not part of military exercises or operations” said Mr Lannon.
“The Irish government have a duty to establish and tell the truth about what the US military are taking through Shannon and Irish airspace” said John Lannon. “They claim to care about neutrality and international law but their inaction tells a different story. Indeed given what they know from information already supplied by Shannonwatch and others, their failure to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon may well amount to complicity in human rights abuse and war crimes.”
Minister Gilmore’s statement was made in answer to a Dáil question from the Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Diaspora, Sean Crowe TD.
See Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade written answers to parliamentary questions athttp://www.kildarestreet.com/
For information on Shannonwatch see www.shannonwatch.org.
For interviews or further information email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 087 8225087.
Sunday 10 March 2013
Shannon Airport, Limerick, Ireland
Around the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq join with Veterans for Peace in Ireland and protest the continuing use of Shannon Airport in violation of Irish neutrality. Members of VFP outside of Ireland are invited to attend.
To find out more about the recent history of Shannon Airport click here
Latest from VFP Ireland
Veterans for Peace Ireland is still in the “setting up” stage, but good progress is being made thanks to the solidarity received from Veterans for Peace UK, and from many of our colleagues in Veterans for Peace in the USA. The setting up of an Irish Chapter of Veterans for Peace is very appropriate.
Irish people have for centuries travelled and emigrated throughout the world, especially to mainland Britain and to the United States. We tended to join armies throughout the world, often fighting
in opposing armies – “fighting in every clime, for every cause but our own” – a line from one of our rebel songs. In World War One, about 50,000 young Irishmen died in the one of the most stupid and unjustified of all wars. Next year the centenary celebrations of this war will glorify this slaughter so as to ensure that modern wars will find a plentiful supply of cannon fodder.
My own family is in many ways typical of the Irish military tradition. I served for 22 years in the Irish Defence Forces. In recent years I have been a peace activist protesting at US military use of “neutral”
Shannon airport, and the Iraq war. In 2005, one of my nephews was a Staff Sergeant serving with the US Marines in Fallujah and another of my nephews was serving as a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Air Force in Basra. During the troubles in Northern Ireland one of my brothers was an active member of Sinn Fein/IRA.
When will we ever learn that we should live and work for humanity and not be conned into dying needlessly for our respective countries? When will we ever learn that there is no justification for the wars of intervention in Vietnam, Afghanistan (by USSR and USA led coalition), Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and in the last few days, Mali?
The Shannon airport issue is just one of the issues for which Veterans for Peace Ireland will campaign. We will campaign also for enforcing and enhancing the rule of national and international laws, including the Geneva Conventions on War, and the UN Convention Against Torture.
We cooperate actively also with other Irish peace groups, including Shannonwatch which organises a monthly peace vigil at Shannon airport on the second Sunday of each month. Our March peace vigil will be held on Sunday 10 March, and this occasion will be used to highlight the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Members of other Chapters of Veterans for Peace are very welcome if they can manage to visit Ireland and the Shannon region for this occasion.
Following a meeting between Edward Horgan and Ben Griffin, Veterans for Peace has formed in Ireland. Edward is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces and UN peacekeeper. He is also international secretary of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance and a founding member of Shannonwatch.
Membership is open to former soldiers, sailors and airmen living in all parts of Ireland, regardless of the country they served. All members must sign up to the Statement of Purpose and Statement of Non-Violence constituted by Veterans for Peace, which was established in the United States in 1985 but whose ideals are spreading internationally.
In the interests of promoting peace within the island of Ireland and good relations with our neighbours in the UK, former members of paramilitary groups who have renounced violence are eligible to join Veterans for Peace in Ireland.
Veterans for Peace in Ireland participated today (Sunday 9 December 2012) in a Peace Vigil taking place under the auspices of Shannonwatch at Shannon airport on .
To join VFP in Ireland you can click here
For more info
Email - email@example.com
Phone - 00353 8635 39911
I had been planning to go to Ireland for some time and seeing as Hillary Clinton was visiting this week (06 DEC 2012) I decided to head over with my good mate Ciaron O’Reilly. The hypocrisy of Clinton is almost unique, portraying herself as a champion of human rights and democracy whilst supporting every war for the last 22 years. Whether as First Lady, Senator for New York or Secretary of State she has consistently banged the war drum.
I flew into Belfast and met up with Ken Humphrey who has been working on community projects and peace work for well over 20 years. We talked about the possibility of former combatants joining together to form a VFP Chapter in Belfast. We were joined by Rob Fairmichael another long time peace activist, good to make some firm connections in the city.
That night I headed across the border to Dublin were I met up with Ciaron and Máirtín. The next day I was invited to speak at Máirtín’s school. The audience was made up of 15 and 16 year old lads. I told them about my experience of Army life and conflict, needless to say it didn’t match up with their experience of playing Call of Duty. I was told this week that there are more recruits from Ireland joining the British Army than at any time since WW2. One of the pupils had just returned from an Army medical in Belfast.
That afternoon we headed into the GPO and stood for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Responses from the public were either positive or non-plussed which I suppose is better than negative. We also turned up to a protest at the Dail that had been called in response to another austerity budget. That evening we headed back to Máirtín’s for the Celtic game and a few tins of hard earned black stuff.
Thursday we met up with Paul O’Toole before heading over to Dublin City University to wait for the arrival of Clinton. Thank you Andrea for driving us over there. We met up again with Stephen, Colm Roddy and Justin Morahan and Niall. Tommy Donnellan and two folks from Occupy Dublin made it just in time to greet Clinton.
That afternoon I met up with former Irish Army Major Ed Horgan. He has been active around US troops transiting through Shannon Airport for ten years. We chatted about forming a VFP Chapter in Ireland. Ed said he was keen to get started. I gave him some VFP Patches with a VFP flag and hopefully a chapter will begin to take shape in the near future.
Thursday evening was spent in Dublin talking at a meeting “War, Media and Wikileaks” organised by Joe Murray of AFRI. Also on the panel were Journalist Harry Brown, Farrah Mokhtareizadeh of Voices for Creative Non-violence and Ciaron O’ Reilly of London Catholic Worker. Joe Black started off the evening with a rendition of his great song ‘The Ballad of Giuseppe Conlon‘. There was a good turnout and many stayed behind to continue the discussion in the bar afterwards.
Thank you to Máirtín and Andrea for putting us up in Dublin, mi casa es su casa.
Ben Griffin, VFP London.
War, Media and WikiLeaks
Thursday 6th December, 8pm
McClelland Room, Central Hotel, Dublin
Oragised by AFRI
Ben Griffin is a former British soldier who refused to return to Iraq and left the Army, citing not only ‘illegal’ tactics of US troops and the policies of coalition forces but also that the invasion itself was contrary to international law. He is now a committed anti-war activist and an organiser with Veterans for Peace in the UK
Harry Browne is a Lecturer in the School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology as well as an
activist and journalist. He has written ‘Hammered by the Irish’, published in 2008; and ‘The Frontman:
Bono (In the Name of Power)’, soon to be published.
Farah Mokhtareizadeh is a long-time peace activist with Voices for Creative Nonviolence; working in
Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and most recently in Afghanistan where she assisted in the formation of
the country’s inaugural women’s journalist union. She is currently a fourth year PhD student at Trinity
College studying women’s rights in the Muslim world.
Ciaron O’Reilly is a veteran Catholic Worker, Ploughshares activist and non violent war resister. He
has served prison time in the US for disarming a B-52 bomber during the 1991 Gulf War and went on
trial in Ireland in 2006 for disarming a US warplane at Shannon Airport.