Press Release - Shannonwatch, 23rd Sept 2015
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?”
“The information reveals flights going to the likes of Saudi Arabia which is dropping cluster bombs on Yemen” continued John Lannon. “When we see the scale of the refugee crisis created by the use of weapons in Syria we begin to get a glimpse of how arms shipments can impact on a region. It’s not something we should be part of.”
The companies identified as carrying weapons and other war related material for the US include Atlas Air, Omni Air International, Southern Air, National Airlines, Delta Air, Kalitta Air and North American Airlines.
“The records received by Shannonwatch reveal a lack of transparency, no proper oversight and little regard for the consequences of war.” according to John Lannon. “It is shameful that the Department of Transport had to be compelled under freedom of information legislation to make these details available. Why couldn’t the government have answered some of the many requests made by TDs like Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Sinn Fein’s Sean Crowe for details of what is being brought through Shannon by the US army?”
Even though the Department of Transport has finally made this data available, Shannonwatch say that they still don’t know what is on the US Air Force Hercules that land at Shannon. “These aircraft are exempt from freedom of information and the only way to find out what is on them is to do what Mick Wallace and Clare Daly tried to do in July of last year, which was to inspect the planes themselves.” said John Lannon.
Former army commandant Edward Horgan who is also a Shannonwatch member said “The FOI documents show that on 6 particular flights the amount of small arms ammunition, that is bullets, sent from the USA to Afghanistan in 2014 amount to almost 420,000 lbs weight which is about 190 metric tons. We are led to believe that these flights were approved to fly through Irish airspace by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”
“In my (military) opinion, this ammunition was probably intended to supply the Afghan army. However, given how events have developed in Iraq, where huge amounts of arms including tanks and armoured vehicles and vast quantities of ammunition supplied by the US to the Iraqi army, was both captured and handed over to ISIS and other militia groups, then it is not unlikely that in time, much of this 190 metric tons of ammunition sent by the US to Afghanistan in 2014 could be captured or handed over to the Taliban and other such groups”.
“US arms manufacturers will be delighted with these developments as they will continue to replace all this ammunition expended in wars, or stolen and handed over to the likes of ISIS”.
The information provided to Shannonwatch reveals US troop movements via Shannon to airports in Eastern Europe as well as to Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Shannonwatch have published a complete list of all the flights on their website www.shannonwatch.org, with details of flight sources and destinations, what they were carrying and whether or not the plane landed in Ireland