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Shannon Demo - The Black Shamrock takes root.

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Sunday March 19, 2006 18:45author by Niall Harnett - Na Cosantóirí Síochána Report this post to the editors

Sat 18 March 2006 - A few hours of engaging and enjoyable protest despite initial aggression by Gardaí in their failed attempts to uproot.

Members of FEIC - Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign, PANA, Amnesty Galway Volunteers, Gluaiseacht and Na Cosantóirí Síochána, the Peace Network joined forces at Shannon, to push once more for the vindication and protection of our constitutional rights to voice our dissent at the ongoing Government facilitation of crimes against humanity at Shannon Airport. Despite anticipated harassment by Gardaí and Airport Police who cooperated in an aggressive assault to grab and steal our banners, we stood our ground, kept hold of our property and insisted on our rights to stay put. For the next few hours we spoke to many interested local and international journeymakers and visitors who were happy to take and wear the 'black shamrock' badges in solidarity with us, the Iraqi people, the tortured and the dead.

Bearing in mind the recent ‘fly in protest’ visit of the Peace And Neutrality Alliance of Independant TD's and Senators to Shannon and their announcement of future plans for similar actions, and considering the recent instructions from the DPP directing Shannon Gardaí to withdraw all charges against Cosantóirí Síochána activists arrested for a banner protest on the restaurant balcony at Shannon in September 2005, we invite PANA and all other peace activists to join us at Shannon in further asserting and demanding the defence and protection of our rights to peaceful assembly and protest under Article 40 of Bunreacht na hEireann, the Irish Constitution.
Jim, the FEICer, chattin' up one of the local honeys.
Jim, the FEICer, chattin' up one of the local honeys.

On the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, ‘the anniversary of shame’, with similar demos and marches going on nationally and internationally, about 20 peace activists met at Shannon Airport welcoming our FEIC visitors from Derry who returned to Shannon as part of their Black Shamrock Campaign, http://www.blackshamrock.org . This fresh and simple idea was born in the lead up to St Patrick's Day as a way for citizens to wear a 'shamrock of integrity opposing Irish involvement in war, be it economic, logistic or strategic'.

St Patrick's Day is over but The Black Shamrock initiative is just starting to bloom. Be a part of it, wear a badge & get the t-shirt. Make your own and get artistic with it. Noise Hacker and friends, take note!

The first indications of a protest were the appearance of hundreds of daffodils that were distributed inside the terminal building by retired Irish Army Commandant Edward Horgan as a token of remembrance for the over 100,000 Iraqi dead. This polite form of protest was greeted with respect and understanding by most employees at the airport, except some Gardai and some security staff, and by active expressions of solidarity by very many members of the general public, including many foreigners and US citizens.

While the main group were preparing banners for demonstration at the terminal building entrance, Ed appeared outside, hounded and harassed by Airport Police Inspector John Martin and Garda No CL177, Brian Lenihan, who were attempting to steal a banner he was holding, causing injury to his hand, (you know that sneaky move they use, yanking back your thumb, very painful and damaging). More Gardaí arrived quickly on the scene, at this stage surrounding and intimidating all protestors, in attempts to take by force more banners from us. The Gardaí were challenged on this unacceptable behaviour and in fairness to them they backed off considering our assertions of our rights to stand our ground.

A small number of us walked back into the Departures Hall of the terminal building, with banners, to address a crowd of about 200 travellers who were checking in for travel. We took a few minutes to inform this receptive audience of all the issues around the abuse of Shannon before we were accosted by a number of Gardaí. We informed the crowd that such harassment was normal for protestors such as ourselves, before being told to leave by the Gardai for ‘using insulting and offensive language’. Sorry, come again, wha?! We announced this ridiculous and false allegation to the large crowd who were witness to this lie at which stage the Gardaí, who could find no legal expression for their nonsense, resorted to the customary neanderthal strong armed bully tactics of physically dragging us away from the area, without excuse and witnessed by hundreds of people. Another sneaky move employed here by a female Garda who dug her nails into the one of the girl's hands in trying to steal a banner.

Once outside again and back in the full company of protestors at the Arrivals entrance we continued our demonstration. We displayed large and small banners and addressed our concerns to all who entered and left the building.

FEIC had brought many Black Shamrock badges and t-shirts and were giving them to people and explaining their significance. The badges went down really well, people liked them and wore them and asked more about why we were here and what was happening at Shannon. There were some lovely conversations with many interested people who expressed their support and helped create an atmosphere of fun and constructive dialogue. Even the Gardaí, maintaining their presence, allowed their flat expressions to soften into the occasional smile. Unfortunately though, for three American girls travelling to Italy, who stopped for photos and took a few badges, things took quite a nasty turn when they were immediately stopped by Airport Police and had their luggage searched just a few yards away from us, once they had entered the building on the other side of the door. We encouraged the girls to give an account of this very distasteful experience on American and/or Italian Indymedia.

All in all, as the afternoon progressed, the mixture of good humour among new friends and positive chats with visitors to Shannon far exceeded any negativity imposed on us earlier on. Towards the end of the demo, local resident Conor Cregan gave a nice speech about the significance of the precedent being set today in regard to peaceful assembly of citizens at Shannon, not allowed in these circumstances since 2003, and to invite all citizens to similarly assert our rights of assembly ‘whenever we choose’.

Also, unlike previous occasions, no attempts were made to steal cameras or stop video-recording. There were a number of cameras and many photos were taken, so I encourage the others to use the ‘add your comments’ link to give more account of your experiences and to post your pics. Readers, keep an eye on this report for more pics coming in from others over the next few days, when people get a chance to get back to their computers after the bank holiday weekend etc.

At this point I think it’s important to point out that even though the Gardaí and Airport Police are seeing the sense in allowing a peaceful demo such as this to continue at the terminal, we have had complaints from a number of the group, against two Gardaí, namely Garda Seán Ó Murchú (CL177) and Garda Brian Lenihan (CL297) who seem to have relished any opportunity to show aggression to many of us involved in this demo. Take note lads … your behaviour did not go un-noticed and has been documented.

Related Link: http://www.blackshamrock.org

Ed on the receiving end of some sneaky moves from APO John Martin & GDA Brian Lenihan
Ed on the receiving end of some sneaky moves from APO John Martin & GDA Brian Lenihan

Conor is not gonna take it from this bully, Garda Seán Ó Murchú
Conor is not gonna take it from this bully, Garda Seán Ó Murchú

Caitríona's keeping her eye on this little one, she likes to use her nails.
Caitríona's keeping her eye on this little one, she likes to use her nails.

The people who matter ... those who care.
The people who matter ... those who care.

author by Niallpublication date Sun Mar 19, 2006 19:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

... for sharing his photos with us.


Settling down.
Settling down.

Engaging ...
Engaging ...

Chatting ...
Chatting ...

& Talking.
& Talking.

author by Elainepublication date Sun Mar 19, 2006 19:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

for exposing the 'shams' at Shannon.

Mucho solidarity!

author by Our Los Angeles Correspondent - IMC Internationalepublication date Sun Mar 19, 2006 19:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Black Shamrock seeded itself in California (Los Angeles and San Francisco) last Friday. Pics didn't turn out because we were too drunk, but response among patrons of bars was mostly positive. (Some off duty cops didn't like it). At least some people know now what some of us feel about Shannon

author by spiderpublication date Sun Mar 19, 2006 21:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

heya, well done to all activists. was interested to see mention of several corporations in the south who are involved in this war. is there any chance of more information on these? maybe anarchists can follow up their direct action rhetoric..

author by GreenPartyMike - Green Party Minnesotapublication date Sun Mar 19, 2006 23:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Greetings LA and irish Indymediaista's,

The Black Shamrocks were also seeded in St Paul Minnesota during the St Pat's Parade (St Paul has a large Irish American population).

No pics and while the seeding was small it was noted and discussed. Since it was with the Minnesotoans For A United Ireland group and the broader focus of this group is Peace and Social Justice ( Brits Out Now) for the oppressed community of the North, it was not broadly discussed. We marched under the banner of " We Serve Neither Bush nor Oil" and "Brits Out Of Ireland, US Out Of The Middle-East".

But the Black Shamrock seeds are now planted in Minnesota and will spring to life, if needed (hopefully we will not have too) in a more organized way next year. We just heard of it too late.

author by Ciaron - Pit Stop Ploughsharespublication date Mon Mar 20, 2006 03:21author address Down Underauthor phone Report this post to the editors


Related Link: http://www.blackshamrock.org/article/19
author by anonpublication date Mon Mar 20, 2006 13:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

WASHINGTON -- Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern gave President Bush a bowl of shamrocks Friday, then asked the president for more "transparency" about CIA flights over Europe.


Ahern said Ireland's Shannon airport was a frequent landing site for CIA and military planes and the United States had assured his government it had not been used for rendition.
But Ahern told reporters, "There is concern about extraordinary renditions and concern about CIA flights and we've asked the president's understanding and co-operation."
"It's an issue we will just keep in touch about," he added." We'll do that over the next few weeks."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan called renditions "a valuable tool in our efforts to save lives and protect the American people," but insisted the process was carried out with respect for other nations' sovereignty.
Ahern also added his voice to criticism of the prison at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of inmates have been held without trial as part of Washington's war on terrorism.
"We expressed our position that we support what (U.N.) Secretary-General Kofi Annan said -- that we believe people should be released or charged and that humanitarian issues should be fully followed," he said.


“We have CIA flights that land – I ’m sure they’re on totally legitimate business."


The Taoiseach says it would make the Government's position easier if it knew more about the nature of US military flights passing through Shannon.
Bertie Ahern says he has told President George Bush of Irish concern that the Americans may be using the airport to transport terror suspects for interrogation.
Mr Ahern says he has been assured Ireland's co-operation is not being abused but would like more information:
"I explained that while we facilitate a large number of movements of American troops and we're happy to do [that]", he said.
"Our parliament has voted for that", he added.
"That there is concern about Extraordinary Renditions and concern about CIA flights and we've asked for the [US] President's understanding and co-operation", Mr Ahern told journalists.
"We are going to continue to look at perhaps how we might bring more transparency to that process if it's possible".

Ahern tells Bush of Shannon fear Gene McKenna

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern did not stand on ceremony when he met President Bush yesterday and voiced his concerns on secret CIA flights through Shannon.
Mr Ahern also used his Saint Patrick's Day meeting to register disapproval over US treatment of inmates at Guantanamo.
Mr Ahern appealed for more transparency on the practice of moving terrorism suspects from one country to another.

author by Gay Georipublication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 00:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Defacing one of the seminal pieces of "struggle" artwork just before the Hunger Strike and 1916 anniversaries:

The Bogside Artists, who have produced 12 murals in an area of Derry that witnessed the Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday, condemned the placing of the black shamrock insignia on one of their murals.

“This mural is simply about 30 years of conflict in the North. To try and gain publicity for a political cause is cheap and fascist,” Tom Kelly, one of the three Bogside Artists, said.

"Whoever did this is infantile and exploitative – these murals were paid for by the people and we have taken great pains to consult them down the years and gain their consent. The consent of the people has not been sought here,” Mr Kelly said.

Why don't you Trinity College educated WSMers from the Free State, stay down there?

Related Link: http://blackshamrock.org/article/31
author by swpublication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 01:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

georie moans always. never a postive word.

author by pat cpublication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 13:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

putting the shamrock on the bogside mural was a stupid and counterproductive action. would it not have been better to liase with local community activists on where best to paint the symbols rather than parachuting into the area?

however there is nothing to suggest that WSM members, TCD educated or otherwise, had anything to do with this action.

i also think that once again we are seeing people lacking a sense of proportion. painting a black shamrock on a mural IS NOT a fscist action.

author by MichaelY - iawmpublication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 14:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Agree with Pat - rather than calling the black shamrock lot 'fascist'....let us concentrate on the real issues facing us....amazed to read in today's Indymedia the article on the leaked document by a British Foreign Office official working with his US, French and German counterparts on how to prepare and co-ordinate the coming war on Iran. Planeed for the summer!

Let us debate how we are going to mobilise against that real threat...a mural is a mural...a shamrock is a shamrock....war is war...and fascists are plenty preparing for it

author by Joe - WSM 1st of May (personal capacity)publication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pat C one of the Derry people involved is a WSM member and he was in TCD around 20 years ago. I guess that is what is getting GG excited. He does and has lived in Derry for around a decade but obviously that isn't 'local' enough for some - makes you wonder what other migrants GG wants to keep out! I'm not sure he was involved in this action however.

As I understand it they didn't paint anything on the mural, they stuck a piece of paper with a black shamrock on it over the SF badge the kid with the petrol bomb is holding. The bit about making a political point is very weird - as if there is something unpolitical about a 15m high mural of a kid with a SF badge holding a petrol bomb during the battle of the bogside. And as for fascists, sure if the worst thing fascists were guilty of was a bit of fly posting the 20th century would have been a much nicer period.

There does seem to be a bit of on ongoing discussion as to whether or not history is best kept sealed in a museum case to prevent it being touched by the present. Each generation of republicans it appears tries to erect fresh glass walls around their heroes but it never quite works out, the present always breaks in. (I see from their site they also stuck a badge on the Connolly statue).

No politics here please
No politics here please

author by Sinner - SFpublication date Mon Mar 27, 2006 18:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mural Has Been Restored And Updated
Mural Has Been Restored And Updated

author by Jack the Ladpublication date Tue Apr 11, 2006 14:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The caption under one of your photos, Niall, exemplifies your actions to a tee. How should one finish the line..."The people who matter - those who care..... the rest can go and shite!".... or .... the rest can burn in Hell!!!"

What I'm getting at is that:
1) sure, pander to those who might support you, but
2) don't be pushing away those who don't. Outside Shannon Airport that day, one of your crowd got into a shouting match with a man and his family as they walked past you, because he said something like "go back to Dublin" or such. He was followed for a few yards and barracked by Conor or Ed. That looks like bullying tactics to anybody who sees it and does not endear one to your cause. 3) not everyone will agree with you. Get over it. Be nice. Adopt a more consilliatory attitude like that of the lad in your group from Derry. Aggressive tactics or argumentitive stance from you will provoke an equal but opposite reaction from not just the Gardaí but by passers-by. You do not win the hearts and minds of people in the terminal building by screaming out at the top of your voice in the terminal building about the war or whatever. People will just regard you as a loon.

The Ogra Shinners are getting some flack for their stink-bomb protest at a Health conference recently. Their leader then went on The Last Word and instead of discussing the reason for their protest ended up defending their method of protest. When that happens you have lost sight of the goal. People will ignore you as irrelevant.

The same happened in Shannon. Whatever momentum that was created after the 15th February 2003 rally was dissapated greatly by the "direct-action" of Mary Kelly and then the Ploughshares. Yet you regard them as heroes. That really puzzles me.

The people of Shannon Town depend on Shannon Airport. Troop movements are one of the pillars sustaining that airport. You will not get a majority of support down there for trying to remove that pillar which may bring down the airport to nothing more than a deserted car-park and airfield. They will not thank you. You would be better disposed to protesting where the decisions are made, the Dáil.

Shannon Airport may have emotional resonance for you, but are you trying to verbalise your own protest against the war or are you trying to change things? You won't change things in Shannon by protesting in Shannon.

author by Badmanpublication date Tue Apr 11, 2006 16:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The same happened in Shannon. Whatever momentum that was created after the 15th February 2003 rally was dissapated greatly by the "direct-action" of Mary Kelly and then the Ploughshares. Yet you regard them as heroes. That really puzzles me.

1. Both actions happened before February 15th. No wonder you're puzzled since you've rewritten history to suit your thesis.

2. If somebody tells me to 'go back to x' anywhere in this country, I'll tell them where to go. People who go around telling others where they can go in this country should expect to be told where to put their advice.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Tue Apr 11, 2006 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah Jack. Is this a new tactic?

You know - spout a complete load of shite and hope to annoy an activist?

Your insight into Niall's captioning is very lacking in either attention-span or native intelligence. Try reading some of the captions on the preceding photos and try looking at them. I'm sure that if you try really hard that you'll see something a bit more in line with the anti-war effort rather than your intial delusion. Hint notice the photos of Garda harassment preceding the bit you highlighted - the people in the photo that caused you offense are civillians. Activists tend to try to get the message to civilians and the Gardaí generally try to stop them. Nuff said?

Don't be presuming to tell activists how to act. Particularly when your ideas on simple logic are so derranged.

If you came up to me whilst I was protesting and took it upon yourself to be rude to me, I'd tell you to "go fuck yourself," too. I don't know whether the event you refer to happened or not, I'm just letting you know how I see it and that not all activists are pacifists. I'm also letting you know that this 'say it with a smile' shite doesn't work. There'd be no activists if it did.

You mewl that job security in Shannon and our complicity in torture and genocide are balanced. What happens when Georgie moves all the jobs to the slave colonies he's creating? Not to mention that this equating you do is a slur on any inhabitant or worker in Shannon.

You say the respect that most people consider due to activists like Mary Kelly puzzles you - I'll bet it does. But it should illustrate to you the minority in which you find yourself.

"hearts and minds"

Interesting slogan. Pity about the rest of your drooling effort.

Why don't you make yourself a placard and go have yourself a protest. You could protest against the activists, or you could go to the airport and protest the Irish right to facilitate genocide.

Methinks you'll be labeling the Gardaí the "important people" in your photos and that it'll be the ordinary jack the lad that you'll have issues with.

author by Elainepublication date Tue Apr 11, 2006 20:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The people of Shannon Town depend on Shannon Airport. Troop movements are one of the pillars sustaining that airport. You will not get a majority of support down there for trying to remove that pillar which may bring down the airport to nothing more than a deserted car-park and airfield. They will not thank you."

Stuff and nonsense! Read this...

"Mr Collier denied the growth in US military traffic was the main driver of growth at the airport. His colleague, Dublin Airport Authority chairman Gary McGann, said that the decision by the budget carrier Ryanair to establish a base at Shannon during 2005 was a major factor in the growth in passenger numbers at the airport."


Now go play with your lad, it might prove more productive.

author by Niallpublication date Wed Apr 12, 2006 00:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'The people who matter' are those who are willing to be informed. 'The line' or the caption doesn't need to be finished. 'The rest can go and shite ... or the rest can burn etc' are your words, not mine, neither do they describe my feelings towards 'the rest'.

I find it difficult for a number of reasons to discuss in this forum, the 'shouting match' you describe, except to say, for the moment, that your description is inaccurate and unsure. To say that someone was barracked by one person or if not that person then another person, attributes blame to someone where no blame lies. You should withdraw this accusation and the names mentioned unless and until you are sure of the full facts. But, if anyone of our group was rude to any member of the public, even if provoked, I regret that.

Our tactics were neither 'aggressive or argumentative', certainly not with the public, no way. We were assertive in confronting an assault by Gardaí and Airport Police until things settled down so we could engage with the public.

We were not 'screaming out at the top of your voice in the terminal building about the war or whatever'. We were using our voices to speak loudly to a large crowd who, in my opinion, listened intently to a coherent address and not the ramblings of a loon. Don't exaggerate. 'Public speaking', by the way, is a tried and tested ancient method of doing just that which you think can't be done, that is winning hearts and minds.

As to who I regard as heroes, you would be wrong to assume to know who my heroes may or may not be.

Yes, we will change things at Shannon by protesting there.

Finally, your comment confuses me slightly. It's a mixture of accusation and advice. You're annoyed and want to have a bit of a go, but you kinda want to help too. It's possible you're a Garda, an APO or a detective. If not, then I think you're writing under an assumed name cos you don't want to offend me. I don't mind, I'd prefer things to be out in the open. Contact me personally if you prefer. I'd welcome that.

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