Shannonwatch Press release
The Department of Transport has revealed that in 2014 a total of 272 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport. In response to a freedom of information request by Shannonwatch they confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East. The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace. Again the majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.
The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. Close to twenty requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused. It would only state that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The information provided by the Department shows the alarming level of support that Ireland is giving to US military operations overseas” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. “Over 550 permits were granted to airlines carrying troops, weapons and explosives to their forward operating bases. There would seem to be an overwhelming bias towards facilitating flights from the US and other NATO countries. How can our government claim we are in any way neutral when this is happening?” (more…)
Afri recently launched an appeal to artists to help raise awareness about global warming and climate change – especially in the lead in to the UN Summit on Climate in Paris in December 2015. Artists responded including Damien Dempsey, Liam O’Maonlai, Donal O’Kelly, Noirín Ní Riain, Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan, Pete St. John and many more.
As part of this call Afri brought together Pete St. John, composer of the famous song ‘The Fields of Athenry’, Ugandan singer, Justine Nantale, and the children and teachers of Gaelscoil Cholmcille in Dublin to perform Pete’s song ‘Waltzing on Borrowed time’. This video (filmed by Dave Donnellan and RoJ Whelan) captures some of the magic of the occasion.
Please share widely.
Stop Climate Chaos welcomed the statement by Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly TD, that he will bring forward amendments to the Government’s Climate Bill. The Minister was speaking during the Committee Stage debate, where the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill passed without amendment. Several opposition amendments were withdrawn following assurances from the Minister he will consider the issues raised by TDs ahead of the next stage in the Dáil.
Commenting, Ciara Kirrane, Coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos Coordinator, said
“The Minister’s commitment to amending the Climate Bill is welcome. Now we need to see his proposed changes. The final Bill needs to make clear how much we’ll reduce emissions by 2050, guarantee the independence of the Advisory Council, and ensure Ireland pursues the principle of climate justice.”
Before the Committee’s debate Stop Climate Chaos presented the Minister with a petition from more than 5,000 people calling on him to bring forward amendments that would strengthen the Climate Bill and to ensure it is passed into law before the summer recess. (more…)
One of the highlights of Afri’s year is the Annual Doolough Famine Walk and 2015 was no exception. The walk encapsulates many elements, from the tragic story which it commemorates to the reality of continuing famine and food inequality today; the local and the global, connecting Ireland, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the world. The breath taking beauty of the landscape and the way in which Delphi Lodge has now embraced the story adds another dimension. East Timor was the focus of the 1993 walk, which was led by Tom Hyland and Timorese students Dino Rai and Jose Lopez. The walk is also a generator of ideas and images, a place to plant trees and potatoes, to sow seeds to sing songs and recall stories.
In May 1994, Don Mullan and I left from the walk to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. On that occasion Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and his wife Sunandra had just led the Famine Walk and unveiled a memorial to Mahatma and Michael Davitt in the famine graveyard in Swinford. Gandhi, of course had strong links with South Africa, spending many of his formative years there before returning to India to lead the independence movement.
In 2015, I left the Famine Walk to fly to Dili, capital of the first newly independent state of the 21st century, Timor Leste. I last visited Timor in 1999, as part of a human rights delegation including Fr. Michael Lapsley and Robbie McVeigh from Derry. We met with many groups and individuals on that occasion including the leader of the resistance Xanana Gusmao, who was in prison in Jakarta at that time. Soon after he was released and a referendum was held in which the people overwhelmingly voted for independence.
In less than a week’s time the Climate Bill will go through another crucial stage in the Dáil. This is make or break…. It could be the last chance we have to fix the Bill before it becomes law. Tell Minister Alan Kelly you want to see the amendments he promised now.
The Minister has told the Dáil he is considering possible amendments to the Bill. We need to make sure the changes he makes are the right ones, by clearly indicating how much we plan to reduce emissions by 2050, by ensuring that the independence of the Expert Advisory Council is explicitly guaranteed and by committing to climate justice as a guiding principle.
Last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Ireland to do more to tackle climate change. He called on Ireland to “align its climate effort with its admirable engagement on hunger”. It’s time fo r the Minister to step up to this challenge. Ask Alan Kelly to strengthen the Climate Bill and keep his promise to have the Bill passed into law before the summer break.
It’s almost three months since the draft law was first debated in the Dáil and we’re still waiting for the Government’s proposed changes. Time is ticking and the crucial UN summit in Paris is now less than six months away. Countries like Ireland, with high emissions and higher historical responsibility, have to demonstrate a credible commitment to climate action if we are to build the trust required for a global deal in Paris.
The only thing that has kept the Climate Bill on track to become law at all is the continuous pressure from campaigners like you. We need one last push to make it a climate law we can be proud of. Please sign the petition now and share it with your friends.
Afri is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. For more about Stop Climate Chaos, visit their website here.
Stop Climate Chaos has today expressed deep disappointment at the government’s refusal to take on board concerns about the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, which today passed Second Stage. This is the first time a Bill designed to tackle climate change has passed Second Stage.
Commenting this evening, Ciara Kirrane, Coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, said:
“We are deeply disappointed at the government’s unwillingness to listen to concerns expressed not only by Stop Climate Chaos but by their own party colleagues. Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers have voiced their concerns with aspects of the Bill in the Dáil in recent weeks but the Minister’s statement today clearly shows that none of these issues will be addressed.
“The Government is also ignoring the advice from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht. Seven of the ten proposals made by the Committee which require changes to the Bill have been disregarded by Government.
“These include some of the most important proposals for actually tackling climate change, such as a long term emissions reduction target and an independent advisory council. Minister Kelly has argued that setting national targets would interfere with the EU process but this just doesn’t stand up. Other member states have managed to pass climate laws with long-term targets, the most recent of which is Finland which passed a climate law earlier this month with an 80% emissions reduction target for 2050. If the Government is going to reject such important recommendations they must find a stronger rational for doing so.”
As the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill now progresses to Committee Stage Stop Climate Chaos is hopeful that amendments that will strengthen the Bill will be accepted by government. (more…)
Film produced & edited by Dave Donnellan, also including filming by Muireann De Barra
“I feel it is my duty as an Irish artist to follow the example of Margaretta D’Arcy and make a stand against the shocking situation of Shannon’s continuing use as an instrument of war.
As St. Patrick’s Day looms I want to help focus attention on the fact that the shamrock is stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of lives taken by the U.S military campaign, of which Shannon is an essential component. Is this the kind of Ireland we want to celebrate?
The sight of Irish politicians celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S is grotesque while human rights abuses and death continue to be facilitated by the Irish government’s gift of Shannon airport to the U.S war machine. I hope my actions can in some way draw attention to the shameful complicity of the Irish government in mass murder”.
– Dylan Tighe, musician, writer and actor
“At this time of year when a bowl of shamrock is handed over in the White House as a symbol of the gombeen attitude of our leaders, it’s vital to challenge the hypocrisy of the neutral Irish state letting its second airport be used as a warport by the US. How many rendition kidnap flights flew through Shannon with prisoners now in Guantanamo for more than a decade without trial, many force-fed for months? We’ll never know because military flights were not and are not inspected.
I feel compelled to use whatever artistic skills I might have to challenge glib acceptance of the use of Shannon by the US army, as a gesture of solidarity with those far-off communities suffering attack by US armed forces with the complicit aid of Shannon Airport. Not in my name, not with my compliance”.
– Donal O’Kelly, writer, actor and director.
Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride – A protest at Shannon Airport at 12 noon to 1pm on Sunday, March 15th.
To mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role.
Preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport, starting at 11.00 am.
Organised by Afri and supported by PANA
“Making peace by making war is what we are trying to do – but it doesn’t work”, stated Edward Horgan, former commandant in the Irish Defence Forces and Shannonwatch spokesperson as he addressed the public meeting on ‘Peace and Neutrality: International and National Perspectives’. Peace can only be achieved by positive neutrality.
One country which has pursued the path of positive neutrality is a country with approximately the same population as Ireland: Costa Rica. Costa Rica disbanded their army in the 1940s and the President at that time, Jose Figueras, declared that the military budget would be used on healthcare and education instead. Figueras believed it was pointless for a country the size of Costa Rica to have an army as it would never be able to compete with a larger country. Costa Rica has since become renowned for its neutrality and peaceful stance in foreign affairs.
Roberto Zamora – Independent Attorney from Costa Rica, who has challenged the Costa Rican government on breaches of neutrality under their Constitution and won
Carol Fox – Peace and Neutrality Alliance
Andy Storey – Afri
Organised by Afri – For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org / ph. 01 8827563
Report by Genny Bove
The Craic Will be 90
It wasn’t the greatest start to a weekend. First there was a text about RoJ getting a flat tyre on the way to the ferry and then, when we were on the road heading south from Wrexham, a crisis call. I pulled over into the old station at Welshpool to take it. Joe Murray was on the ferry from Rosslare as planned with Nuala Kelly and Andy Cummins, but all four musicians in the party had been left behind on the quay (thanks to some misinformation given out by Irish Ferries staff who had promised there was plenty of time before the gates closed when there wasn’t) and the next sailing wasn’t due in til after midnight, too late for the Shamrock Bar gig planned for that evening. There was nothing to be done except put out some calls for local musicians to step in and hope that Joe could at least persuade the stranded ones to rebook on the ferry and arrive in time for Saturday night. The atmosphere in the car was subdued as we continued on our way, wondering how things were going to work out and whether the musicians might have just given up and gone home. We needn’t have worried. After about an hour, a text came through from RoJ: they were on their way back to Dublin, would catch the afternoon ferry to Holyhead, drive down to Fishguard from there – a five hour journey – and would be with us by 11pm. Cryptically, he added: “The craic will be 90.”
“What’s that about?” asked Eimear.
“No idea. Bet it’s a song lyric.”
Eimear looked it up and we began to worry that they might be tempted to catch the Isle of Man Steam Packet instead and all end up in Douglas. (more…)
Stop Climate Chaos will host a day of action on Tuesday 10th February, calling on elected representatives to strengthen the Climate Bill. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 will be debated in the Dáil later this week. It will be the first time the Dáil has debated a Government Climate Bill but the coalition is concerned that the Bill will not deliver the low carbon future it promises unless significant amendments are made.
Ciara Kirrane, Coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos, said
“The coalition was deeply disappointed last month when the Government rejected proposals by the Oireachtas Environment Committee to strengthen the Climate Bill. The recommendations of the Oireachtas committee, which held comprehensive hearings on the draft Bill last year and produced an all-party report, have been ignored without reason or explanation. The Bill will not secure a transition to a low carbon future if the government refuses to do the bare minimum recommended by their colleagues, such as defining what ‘low carbon’ actually means.
“It is clear that our concerns are shared by many members of the public. We’ve had a terrific response from people all across Ireland who are disappointment that the Bill does not go far enough. Tomorrow provides a forum for these people to meet with their TDs and express their dissatisfaction.” (more…)
The effects of global warming are increasingly clear: ecosystems are being lost at an alarming rate; species extinction is occurring on an unprecedented scale and communities, especially those who are already suffering, face decimation and displacement. Unless we make radical changes, things are going to get a lot worse.
But resistance is also on the rise. In 2014, a coalition of native Alaskan tribes, backed by green campaigners, won a court victory against Shell’s drilling for oil in the Arctic. Indigenous groups in the Amazon have been holding back plans to cut down more forests to facilitate oil exploration.
These artists have already pledged to act. Will you? Damien Dempsey, Liam Ó’Maonlaí, Steve Wall (The Walls/The Stunning), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames), Dónal O’Kelly, Noirín Ní Riain, Theo Dorgan, Paula Meehan and more. Full list below and more to be announced soon. Are you an artist? Add your name to the list of supporters here.
Artists are helping lead the change. Neil Young launched a Canadian tour in 2014 under the title ‘Honour the Treaties’, backing the struggle of Canada’s indigenous nations against environmentally destructive tar sands extraction. Pharrell Williams recently announced a series of Live Earth Concerts around the globe on June 18th of this year.
In Ireland, renowned violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire of The Frames (and ex Swell Season and Kila) will soon launch his new solo album ‘and now the weather’ which takes in the theme of our relationship with the planet. What we need now is a constant, continuous and multi-dimensional effort from now until the Paris Summit in December 2015 and beyond.
We are calling on artists, musicians, poets, painters, writers, crafts people, designers, dancers and all creative souls everywhere to use their creative genius to awaken the super-power of world opinion. Imagine the impact, if artists and those who love art, those who love Earth were to rise up and make their voices heard with one clear message: Stop killing our planet… save our world.
Please join our call by creating art that helps awaken, activate and inspire. Share your creations with your friends, fans and followers and be part of a movement of movements that is determined to forge a new world for our children and grandchildren.
Joe Murray, Afri – Action From Ireland (Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
Gary White Deer, Choctaw artist
The teachings of all First Nations tell us that all people share a common Mother Earth,
who takes care of us and we are born knowing this. In this Spirit, let us then take care
of Mother Earth as well as each other.
– Gary White Deer, Choctaw Nation
Liam Ó’Maonlaí, Damien Dempsey, Steve Wall (The Walls/The Stunning), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames), Q A.K.A Colm Quearney, Dónal O’Kelly (actor and playwright), Gary White Deer (Choctaw artist), Sarah Clancy, Colm Keegan, Enda Reilly, Queen Elvis, Veronika Stalder, Valentina Gaia Lops, Iain Dowling, Blue Drum, Gary Dunne (music), Caroline K Stanley (music), Ciara Ryan-Gerhardt (creative writing, singing), Little John Nee (writer/performer/story maker), Dave Lordan (poet), Róisín Coyle (Visual artist), Maria McManus (writer), Bibly Mosa (poetry), Denise Keenaghan (poetry), Kate O’Shea (poetry), Rory White (music – cello – and songwriting), Séamus Bellamy (writing), Homeira (Printmaker), Angela T. Carr (poetry), Rosie McGurran (visual arts), Shelley Tracey (poetry), Luke Concannon (singer-songwriter), Connor McDermott (music/writing), Michelle McCarron (photography, film, writing), Ailbhe Darcy (writing), Sorcha Fox (poetry and performance), Rosemarie Rowley (poetry), William Wall (writer), Mary Madec (poetry), Tara Baoth Mooney (musician and artist), Theo Dorgan (poet), Paula Meehan (poetry), Eleanor Hooker (poet), Elise Brown/Hands on Crreation (craft, photography, poetry, dance), Celeste Auge (writing), Nessa O’Mahony (poetry), Sheila Mannix (writing), Béibhinn O’Connor (music), Jenni Ledwell (actress), Lavelle (music), Eabhan Ni Shuileabhain (poetry), Sue Hassstt (writing, research, music, activism, participatory arts), Brian Fleming (music/ theatre), Lou McMahon (singer-songwriter), Shevaun Doherty (botanical artist), Lucia Comnes (songwriter/singer/fiddler), Édaín Ní Dhomhnaill (art), Martina Flaherty (singer/songwriter), Lauren Guillery (musician – Dublin), Lucy Vigne Welsh (acting, painting, writing – Wicklow), Giselle Harvey (art/craft – Clare), Bee Smith (writing/poetry – Cavan), Danny Groenland (soul music – Dublin), Beverly Farley (painting – Quebec, Canada), Wendy Jack (singer songwriter – Ireland), Terry Corcoran (painter – Missouri, U.S.A.), Ceara Conway (visual art/singing – Galway), David Carroll (music – Bordeaux, France), Michelle Culligan (craft/ writing / mosaic), Nóirín Ní Riain PhD (music/theology), Barbara O’Meara (visual artist – Dublin), Martin Sharry (writing – Dublin), Breda Larkin (comedian – Cork), Helena Tobin (artist – Dublin), Kathleen O’Hara Farren (mixed media – Donegal), Sharon Corcoran (poetry & writing – Missouri, U.S.A.), Deborah J. Stockdale (textile artist – Donegal), Caroline Kuyper (yarn craftivism – Donegal), Jules Bitter (music – Netherlands), Ciara Delaney (music – Belfast), Saffron Thomas (sculpture – Sligo), Kathleen McCreery (theatre and writing – Donegal), Bernadette Hopkins (visual artist – Donegal), Kate Thompson (writer – Galway), Aodán McCardle (artist/poet – Donegal), Ciaran Keogh (actor/singer and film maker – Donegal), Kevin Ovita Teddy (event organizing – Kenya), Paul Byrne (music – Dublin), Kate O’Callaghan (music – Donegal), Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh (music – Limerick), Mary Lynch (art/ drawing – Belfast), Ruth Brewer (poetry –Dublin), Laura Dicus (watercolor painting-Washington, U.S.A.), Aislinn Adams (botanical and nature artist – Oregon, U.S.A.), Stephen Murray (poetry –Dublin), Ger Killeen (poetry – Oregon, U.S.A.), Cynthia Domenico (videodance – São Paulo, Brazil), Pete Mullineaux (music/poetry/drama/fiction – Galway), Oisin McGann (writing and illustration – Meath), Debbie Chapman (visual artist – Dublin), Lisa Fingleton (artist & filmmaker – Kerry), Sam (art & poetry – Ireland), Conor Bowman (writing – Meath), Stephen James Smith (poet – Dublin), Marigold Fairweather (visual art – Victoria, Australia), Freya Watson (writing – Kildare), Dolores Whelan (writer /teacher in spirituality –Louth), Fintan Vallely (music – Dublin), Diana Oleartchik (Writer – Tel Aviv, Israel).
After 14 years of challenging the oil and gas industry in north Mayo, what knowledge does the community there have to share? What questions might other communities have and how might they benefit from the experiences of those standing up to Shell and the State?
A four-year CEESA research project (2010-2014) in the parish of Kilcommon, northwest Mayo, sought to identify and share useful knowledge from the experiences of challenging the Corrib Gas project. This has been used to create an exhibition in which people respond to the question: If you could say one thing to other communities facing an unsafe development planned for their area, what would it be?
On Friday 30th January some of the 51 campaigners who took part in the research will speak about what they are learning through challenging the Corrib project. The creators of the exhibition will also talk about the research and photography behind the exhibition. (more…)
Former speaker at Féile Bríde, Kathy Kelly has just begun a 3-month prison term, having been arrested when she went to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base Missouri, which operates drones over Afghanistan.
Here is an update from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the organisation of which Kathy is the Co-ordinator:-
Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kathy Kelly will turn herself in to the federal prison camp in Lexington, KY on Friday, January 23. She will begin serving a three-month sentence for her June 1, 2014 protest of drone killings at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Missouri.
Kelly asserts that drone warfare jeopardizes the security of ordinary people and that the U.S. Constitution protects her right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance. She was arrested when she went with Georgia Walker and other activists to the gates of Whiteman Air Force Base to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of the base, which operates drones over Afghanistan. At her trial in December, Federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth found her guilty and sentenced her to three months. (more…)
Afri has consistently opposed the abandonment by successive government of Ireland’s policy of neutrality, a policy whereby Ireland pursued largely non-militaristic foreign policy and refused to participate in wars of aggression.
All that has now changed, against the will of the Irish people and governments cravenly provide Shannon Airport to the US for its never-ending ‘war on terrorism’ as well as surrendering our neutrality in many other ways.
Afri recently launched a petition opposing the use of Shannon as a war-port, which is on-going and our Board member John Maguire has devised this campaign called ‘PETALS’ (Peaceful Endeavour to Terminate Aggressive Landings at Shannon) as a way of drawing attention to our continual participation in wreaking death and destruction on other peoples and nations.
John was prevented from handing these peace shamrocks to passengers in Shannon Airport this weekend. Apparently war planes and rendition flights are acceptable in Shannon but not shamrocks!
To sign our petition to show that you oppose the military use of Shannon airport go here.
Tackling the challenge represented by ISIS (Islamic State or ISIL) is a tough assignment, both for governments and for civil society. Their barbaric killings and rapidly expanding control of territory have resulted in precisely the reaction intended: military intervention by the US and its allies. Despite the failures of the recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, those with hammers in their toolboxes once again see every problem as a nail. (more…)
Report by Joe Murray
I recently attended a peace conference in the unlikely venue of the ‘Imperial War Museum’ in London. Organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW) in a venue, containing, as MAW President Bruce Kent said, three of the most unattractive words in the English language, the event was interesting and timely, looking critically, as it did, at the way in which World War 1 is being commemorated. Many contributions noted the attempt to ‘redeem’ World War 1, and to portray it as a ‘good war’ by those who continue to benefit from the business of war and who want to ensure its continuance as a means of ‘settling’ international disputes.
A disturbing feature was the announcement that since the Museum re-opened after refurbishment in July 2014, it has been visited by over half a million people. And while the peace event attracted around one hundred people largely in the over-50 age bracket, the war museum was visited by thousands of people in the course of the day. Among the visitors were families including children of all ages, many of whom were being photographed proudly standing alongside or caressing some of the most grotesque weapons ever manufactured. (more…)
Blood Fruit recounts the story of ten exceptional young workers in Dunnes Stores in Henry Street who took the courageous decision to refuse to handle ‘the fruits of apartheid’ in 1984. This decision was to have major consequences for the workers themselves – being locked out for more than 2 years – and internationally as the story became known around the world. It resulted in a rare and amazing victory when the Irish Government banned the importation of fruit and vegetables from South Africa.
The film relays the experience of the daily drudgery on the picket line as well as their invitation to address the UN, their meeting with Desmond Tutu en route to receive the Nobel Peace prize and their abortive visit to South Africa where they were held by armed police before being sent home on the next plane. This is a compelling and inspiring story which should be compulsory viewing for people of all ages, reflecting what is best in human nature – the ability to empathise with the suffering of others even in faraway places and to express solidarity to the point of making a real and significant difference.
Nelson Mandela had said that the action of the strikers had helped him during his imprisonment and, in a message sent to the strikers via Afri for the premiere, Archbishop Tutu saluted them, describing them as ‘a beacon of hope’ and ‘part of the history of South Africa’s struggle for freedom’.
Shannonwatch Press Release
Shannonwatch welcomes the visit to Shannon Airport by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. The visit which took place on October 2nd was a follow-up to a petition by Shannonwatch earlier this year. The petition called for the Government to investigate the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace for the transit of US armed troops, munitions and other war material, as well as for the refuelling of CIA-associated aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition.
During their visit to Shannon, representatives of the Committee met with members of the Gardai including Chief Superintendent John Kerin and with airport officials before meeting again with Shannonwatch. They were informed that about 40,000 US troops had gone through Shannon so far this year. However Shannonwatch understands that airport officials said that US troops were not essential to the economics of Shannon Airport as they contribute relatively little, and that civilian passengers contribute far more with shopping, car parking and so on.
Amongst the topics covered in a constructive meeting between Shannonwatch representative Edward Horgan and the Committee were the non-searching of US military aircraft, and past indications from Gardai that the Attorney General had issued advice not to search suspected rendition planes.
“We had a long discussion on issue of Gardai searching or non-searching of US military and military chartered aircraft” said Mr Horgan. “Gardai continue to insist on needing a warrant from a judge to search chartered troop carriers, and it is even suggested that international diplomatic laws forbids them from searching US military aircraft. We have never received an adequate explanation of the legal basis for such claims”.
Shannonwatch asked the Oireachtas Committee to seek clarification of exactly what laws the government is referring to when it talks about sovereign immunity and chairperson Padraig MacLochlainn TD undertook to follow up on this.
Shannonwatch also raised the fact that military planes and chartered “civilian” troop carriers are treated differently and pointed out that both are bound by international laws on neutrality. “We also pointed out the direct contradiction in government policies when they continue to declare a policy of neutrality while being in gross breach of international laws on neutrality. We recommended that the Committee should consult an international law expert on neutrality and they agreed. Matters of policy are primarily a matter for legislators rather than Gardai.”
“The issue of whether or not a former Attorney General issued advice that suspect rendition aircraft, and maybe even US military aircraft, should not be searched has not yet been adequately addressed.” said Mr Horgan. “If such advice was ever given it would be a very serious matter, and for that reason it needs to be fully investigated.”
Prior to the Committee’s visit to Shannon Padraig MacLochlainn noted that Shannonwatch have also made serious claims that complaints or requests made to Gardaí at Shannon have not been followed up. He went on to say that “The series of meetings on the ground in Shannon tomorrow will assist the Committee in following up this controversial issue. We will also be able to assess first-hand Shannonwatch’s call for an independent inquiry in relation to what they perceive as the failure to investigate aircraft suspected to be involved in illegal rendition.”
During the meeting Shannonwatch’s Edward Horgan noted that while legal issues such as neutrality are important, the reality that Ireland has been facilitating wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people including children are being killed, while failing in our constitutional and moral responsibilities to promote international peace and justice, is of greater importance. “We will not allow our government or the Gardai to ignore that fact” said Mr Horgan.
Shannonwatch are organising a large demonstration at Shannon Airport on October 12th at 2pm. It is being supported by peace and anti-war groups from around Ireland, and is being held at a time of renewed bombing in the Middle East by the US and its allies.