Shannonwatch Welcomes Oireachtas Petitions Committee Visit to Shannon

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.

Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning

Report by Genny Bove

The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.

Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.

Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.

Nuala Kelly
Human rights campaigner, Nuala Kelly, speaking about Gerry Conlon at Resisting Injustice. Photo: Dave Donnellan

The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. Continue reading “Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning”

War Games at Croke Park

A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008.  Source: Wikipedia
A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008. Source: Wikipedia

I was planting a tree in the garden of my north Dublin home on Saturday afternoon when the silence was shattered by a sudden thunderous roar, the like of which I had never heard before, while I caught a glimpse of a black streak flashing across the sky. My wife ran from the house alarmed and fearful – thinking that an attack of some sort was actually taking place. In our local vegetable shop, a staff member reported customers instinctively ‘running for cover’ as they were overwhelmed by the deafening noise. A man in his 70s who was repairing a house nearby had to go inside for an hour as a result of the shock.

We later learned that the cause of our Saturday afternoon jolt was two F-16 war planes, performing a fly-past for the American football match in Croke Park. I thought of the fear that, if only for a few seconds, these war planes had generated. The vaguest hint, perhaps, of what it must be like for families in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for whom this is a daily reality, except in these instances it is no propagandist fly-past as the war planes ‘deliver’ death, destruction and misery. I thought of what it would be like for my own children if this had been the ‘real thing’, and of those children for whom this sound is the last they will ever hear! Continue reading “War Games at Croke Park”

Afri expresses outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park on Saturday 30th August

The justice and peace group Afri have expressed outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park at the weekend.

“Many people in the surrounding areas were shocked and frightened when the silence of a quiet Saturday afternoon was shattered by the thunder of 2 F16 fighter jets which, without warning or explanation, flew overhead in a “lap of honour” for the participating teams.  What would it be like if, as in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, they were firing the missiles which are their stock in trade?  Who gave consent for this invasion of Irish air space by elements of the U.S. war machine? Is it appropriate that the headquarters of Ireland’s national games, built over many years by the pence and shillings, cents and euros, of loyal supporters should be used as a backdrop for U.S. war propaganda?

If official permission was given, Afri would condemn the authorities in Croke Park and the Irish Government for collusion with this disgraceful display.  As with Shannon Airport, this shows a typically supine attitude by the Irish Government to U.S. power.  Is there no limit to our willingness to prostrate ourselves before the altar of U.S. militarism?   Sport should be a means of bringing people together and promoting peace, not a vehicle for promoting war and militarism,” said Dr. Iain Atack of Afri.

Should there be a recurrence of this event in future years, Afri stated that it will mobilise people to protest against such obscene conflation of war and sport.

Article in the Irish Times by Fiona Gartland: Croke Park Classic: fighter jet fly-past upsets people, dogs and anti-war group

Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch, 22 July 2014

Shannonwatch welcomes attempts by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon earlier today. At a time when the airport may be helping to supply the weapons used by Israel to kill and main civilians in Gaza, it is vitally important that we have proper oversight of what is on the military planes at the airport. Despite repeated requests, the authorities refuse to search the planes to ensure they are not in breach of international law.

“We are being told repeatedly that there is no proof there are illegal weapons on the planes” said Mick Wallace. “It is nonsense to suggest that none of them are involved in military operations or that there are no weapons on board these planes, which is what the government says. But because the authorities won’t search the planes to find out if that is the case, people like us have to do it.” Continue reading “Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport”

Afri alarmed by Irish companies supplying US army and military industry

Shannon

Press release

The justice and peace group Afri has expressed alarm at the extent to which Irish companies are involved in supplying military equipment, including to the US army. Afri first brought this issue of Irish participation in  the military industry to light when it published the ‘Links’ Report in 1996, demonstrating the early stages of this trend of supplying such components.

Afri condemns the practice of companies making profits on the back of human suffering and misery caused by war and violence. Irish companies are supplying components, including parts for drones to one of the most aggressive military forces on the planet, the US army, which has been involved in the slaughter of tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. This, along with the use of Shannon as a war-port, places Ireland ever closer to the heart of the US war machine. Continue reading “Afri alarmed by Irish companies supplying US army and military industry”

Shannon Shame

See photo attached of Hercules C 130 US warplane at Shannon today being “protected” by Irish Defence Forces patrol. In addition to its military forces in Afghanistan, US special forces are also operating in Yemen, in several African countries including Ethiopia and Somalia, and from US navy ships in the Indian Ocean, and war planes like the one photographed below are being used to transport supplies including arms through intermediaries to the rebel side in the Syrian civil war.

No US military aircraft have ever been searched by Gardaí at Shannon airport, even though the Irish Government Jet on a trip to the USA with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was reportedly searched on at least one occasion at Washington Dulles Airport.

Photo provided by Edward Horgan

Link to petition calling for end of military use of Shannon airport:  http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-respect-ireland-s-constitution-end-u-s-military-use-of-shannon

Petition – U.S the military use of Shannon Airport

The people of Ireland are being pulled into wars we don’t support. Every week planes full of armed U.S troops pass through Ireland’s Shannon airport en route to conflict zones. The airport has been directly involved in the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Over two million U.S troops have used Shannon Airport since 2002.

Ireland has even given an exemption to fees for these military flights. In addition, CIA rendition torture aircraft have regularly used the airport en route to the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp and other torture sites. Shannon’s use as vital cog in the illegal U.S. renditions programme has been highlighted by Amnesty International, the Council of Europe, the UN Committee Against Torture and others.

It’s time to show the world that we don’t support the bombing, killing and torture of innocent people.

With Shannon back in the news, we now have a real opportunity to put pressure on politicians to hear our voices.

Please sign and share the petition today.

http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-respect-ireland-s-constitution-end-u-s-military-use-of-shannon

Continue reading “Petition – U.S the military use of Shannon Airport”

Peacemakers like Margaretta D’Arcy uphold the greater moral law

Photograph taken in solidarity with jailed Peace Activist Margaretta D’Arcy at “Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib” in Ceathrú Thaidhg, County Mayo on the 18th January

Signs of hope and causes for optimism are still to be found amid the bleak picture often presented on the daily news. Despite the realities of war, climate change and hunger, we can find hope and inspiration in those who continue to resist, to struggle, to challenge, and even to celebrate.

Imbolc, the ancient Irish festival that marks the beginning of spring, is almost upon us. It represents a time of new beginnings after the long, dark winter. In Irish tradition, people celebrated this time on February 1st, and honoured Brigid, who was noted in legend as a strong and fearless leader that carried a torch for peace, truth and justice. Continue reading “Peacemakers like Margaretta D’Arcy uphold the greater moral law”

Release Peace Activist Margaretta D’Arcy

Photograph taken at “Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib” on January 18th in Ceathrú Thaidhg, Co. Mayo in solidarity with jailed peace activist Magaretta D’Arcy. Photo: Dave Donnellan

Friday 17th of January 2014

Department of Justice, 94 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy was arrested yesterday and brought to Limerick prison to serve a three month sentence. Ms D’Arcy suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is also being treated for cancer.

She was arrested and charged as a consequence of a peaceful protest against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from their wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, due to the Irish Governments commitment to active participation and support for the doctrine of perpetual war. She refused to sign a bond to say that she would stay out of unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

Please contact Mr. Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice at: minister@justice.ie to seek her release and share this message with your friends.