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War dead remembered by Shannon flowers

category national | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Monday July 03, 2006 00:35author by Tim Hourigan - Cosantoiri Siochana Report this post to the editors

Lillies to commemorate those who died.

On Saturday a small bunch of peace activists entered Shannon Airport and distributed flowers and petals in rememberance of all the people killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars, and calling for an end of military use of Shannon, be it the US going to Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, the Israeli Air Force, or the Russians and Belgians arming South and Central America.
The date co-incided with the withdrawal of World Airways from Shannon. World is now routing its military flights through Leipzig in Germany. Although the Shannon option provided the most fuel effiecient route over the Atlantic, World Airways contends that it can cut out a crew change by using Leipzig and having a short route to the M.E. from Europe.
World has brought most of the 600,000 troops through Shannon for the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap
As ye sow, so shall ye reap

Press Release, action report, and analysis.

On Saturday 1st July, at Shannon Airport, a small bunch of peace activists distributed tens of thousands of red and white flower petals in commemoration of the approx 150,000 people killed (including 46,000 children) as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The petals were distributed inside the terminal building and at the airport entrance.
Airport customers and staff responded with polite interest and discussion.
Local peace activist, retired Army Commdt, Ed Horgan was eventually escorted from the building as other peace activists continued to speak to customers, and distribute flowers inside the terminal.
The protest coincided with the first day of US Troop Carrier WORLD AIRWAYS routing its military flights through Leipzig in Germany, after abandoning Shannon as a transit point. In the past 5 years, over 600,000 US troops have used Shannon, with more than half of those on WORLD AIRWAYS flights.
Although local FF politicians have tried to blame peace activists for the departure of WORLD, and attribute blame for the airports woes on this small bunch, it was for economic reasons that WORLD abandoned Shannon, as there was no substantial pressure on World Airways from peace activists since 2003, when they temporarily pulled out following two acts of sabotage on US Navy jets bound for the war. About half the staff of the airport are in fear of redundancy following the break up of Aer Rianta.
Rather than develop a viable business plan for the airport (e.g. developing it more for freight) and making the west of Ireland more appealing to tourists and business travellers (e.g. Western Rail corridor) the government has allowed the airport to develop an unhealthy addiction to blood money from the US military. Given the unpredictable nature of wars, and the uncertainty of how long they last, this was never a reliable source of income. Aside from the moral implications of taking money for assisiting mass murder, the figures quoted for military revenue (working out at about 270 euro per dead Iraqi) ignore the associated costs, such as the fuel, security (15 million for Bush's 2004 visit) , aircraft ground fees and the waived Air Traffic Control fees (ATC charges are instead paid for by the Irish taxpayer and amounting to over 10 million euro since 2001)
Claims by local politicians and business interests that the US military use of Shannon is justified for economic reasons ignores both the economic reality of this business and the humanitarian disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan.




Ed Horgan


While the action was taking place inside the terminal, a Boeing 757 belonging to ATA (American Trans Air) and chartered to carry US troops was parked up on the apron. With the departure of World, ATA is now the largest transporter of US troops through Shannon, followed by North American Airlines. Other traffic through Shannon in recent days included a C-123 military cargo transporter seen on Thursday morning.
After the peace activists left the terminal, more flowers were distributed at the exit to the airport, and Mr. Horgan was cautioned that he may be charged with littering. Mr. Horgan, who was distributing (naturally biodegradable) petals being taken by the wind, replied that it was a peaceful protest against the deaths of innocents in Iraq, before leaving the airport.


The FF/PD government is not sure which way to spin these days on Shannon. Having been stung by the 'omission' on the part of the US to inform the Irish government about a prisoner transport, Dermot Ahern had to be seen to take a strong stance with the outgoing US Ambassador, James C. Kenny, especially given the faith previously put in the US 'absolute assurances' that no prisoners would go through Shannon without notification, and definitely no renditions.
With Shannon expecting 260 redundancies from the break up of Aer Rianta, the government would love anything to hang the blame on, and tries very hard to attribute it to peaceniks. Unfortunately, the peaceniks don't have the type of clout, much as some groups tried to claim credit for WORLD's departure, they left for their own reasons, not due to public pressure.
in a recent radio interview, a local FF politician said that WORLD had to leave for fear of having their planes bent and due to recent controversy.
It was put to him that a) no planes had been damaged since Feb 2003, and those were marked US Navy,
and that b) the recent controversy related to the CIA planes which STILL come through in the full knowledge that they will not be boarded.
He asked who would pay for the damage to these planes, and in reply he was asked, who would pay for the damage to Iraqi homes, hospitals, and families... a question that he regarded as flippant.
At the end of the day it remains to be seen how well the figures will be spun about US military use of Shannon. the media regularly quotes 'revenue' figures from the Airport Authorities, without looking at the associated costs, including those met by the taxpayer (ATC charges and security - Garda, Army and maintenance and running costs of the million euro motion detector system guarding the military parking stand by gate 42). Some will always believe that the business is keeping Shannon in the black. Others will see it as a con job, soaking up taxpayers money, and garda resources, while ignoring major crimes.
While a few may profit from this misadventure, in terms of losses, the Iraqis are getting the crappy end of the stick from Irish aid to the Pentagon.

While the departure of World Airways is to be generally welcomed, it;s not a cause for complacency. If they HAD been forced out by public pressure, then it would have been a great signal to other countries to kick them out in similar fashion, but as it happens, they left on their own timetable (if only they had such an exit strategy for Iraq) and we still have other troop flights every day as well as military cargo flights. While the carnage continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, and plans are drawn up for Iran and Syria, our government continues to ignore the reality of what is being facilitated and paid for at Shannon.

APO Inspector Benn not a fan of flowers...
APO Inspector Benn not a fan of flowers...

author by Timpublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 01:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Taken inside and outside the terminal.

What's all this then?
What's all this then?

Eyes open for Ed, but not for war crimes?
Eyes open for Ed, but not for war crimes?

D.S.Houlihan and Det. Hayes say howdy to Ed and Sean
D.S.Houlihan and Det. Hayes say howdy to Ed and Sean

Leaving the security checkpoint
Leaving the security checkpoint


author by anonpublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 02:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Chairman of the Dublin airport authority Mr. McGann: Dublin Airport Authority: Presentation. 20 June


Significant underlying losses are masked only by the temporary impact of military transit traffic

Progress is being made and positive benefits are being delivered but the cost base is seriously out of line, and unless this is addressed, the concept of a viable airport at Shannon, especially without military transit traffic which accounts for up to €9 million a year, is unsustainable.

In the past year or two, it has been supplementing its income and getting into positive cash flow mode because of military traffic, which is not something it can depend on in the long term. That business is already declining.

author by Damien - Pitstop Ploughsares/Catholic Workerpublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

......and well done to all involved. Look forward to seeing some of you in Dublin during our trial which starts Wednesday morning in Dublin Four Courts.

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by karen - humanitypublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 17:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

thank you ed and the rest.... such a beautiful act .

author by MichaelY - iawmpublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great stuff Ed, Tim et al - and I believe SR was with you too.
We missed you here in Dublin - the demo against the warship HMS Ocean was very good....and the meeting of the Anti-war Network went ahead as planned.
This week it's the Ploughshares that will occupy centre-stage - and in a couple of weeks we're planning an Irish welcome for Jeb Bush! He is due to come and lecture us on "science" - if you can believe it.
A picket outside the Israeli Embassy later this afternoon....take care of yourselves.

Solidarity from all of us here in Dublin

author by Edward Horganpublication date Mon Jul 03, 2006 21:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One of the main reasons for our continuing protests at Shannon airport is to commemorate all those people unlawfully, and unjustifiably killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Irish Government has been spinning US military and CIA use of Shannon airport as both a fait accompli and an economic necessity, ignoring the moral, legal and ethical issues. At least 150,000 deaths have occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq that would not have occurred if the US had not mounted it invasions in 2001 and 2003. The resulting civil wars in both countries may continue for up to five years, possibly longer, and the combined death tolls may, unfortunately, reach half a million souls, directly by military actions, and indirectly by war caused diseases, civil wars, and violent crimes. For the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, the destruction of the infrastructure their countries will take decades to repair. The lives of those killed can never be restored.

The people of Ireland have been knowingly complicit in the crimes against humanity committed by the US led coalitions of the willing in Afghanistan and Iraq, because we failed to prevent the Government of Ireland participating in these unlawful wars. This is not just about breaches of international law, the UN Charter and the Irish neutrality. This is about mass murder.
Just as the Holocaust is still commemorated six decades after it occurred, then the Ireland’s participation in the mass murders in Afghanistan and Iraq should be commemorated every month of the year and every year of our lives, lest we forget.

On the 20th March each year I intend to mark the beginning of the Iraq War with flowers at Shannon airport, for as long as I live. I hope other will continue to do so long after I have passed on.
In the meantime, while the wars and occupations continue, there should at least be monthly acts of atonement at Shannon airport.
The bloodstains to which Shannon airport and the Irish Government contributed cannot be easily washed away.
Please come to Shannon on a regular basis and find your own creative peacefull way to atone for the crimes our government has committed against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Tue Jul 04, 2006 17:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We had arranged to meet in a car park in Shannon Town. We parked behind an Aviation authority van, and some cheeky activist placed a ploughshare's sticker, advertising the upcoming trial, on the windscreen. Afterwards, we drove into the airport. We were not hassled as we did so.

A lily was handed into a young lady at the Bureau De Change in the Airport, to highlight the fact that the facilitation of death, destruction and torture is all about money.

Traditionally the lily is considered a symbol of sadness, and is commonly the most used flower at funerals.

Detective Mick Houlihan met myself and some activists as we attempted to leave the airport. His mood was jovial and corteous.

He's been in Shannon for over 20 years and has seen them all come and go he told us - meaning all the wars we've facilitated.

He asked, if we'd protest the Warport if it were the Russians that were transporting, weapons, soldiers and death.

We replied yes, and asked a question of our own.

We asked him if he thought Iranian troops and machines of war would be facilitated by us, and by Shannon Warport in particular.

He didn't envision a problem with this.

So lads (you folks in Iran), you heard it here first. Maybe now is the time for a troop build up on American fronts.

The cash might just start flowing in Shannon again.

Before some FF or PD sack of shite takes offense at Mick's answer, just remember he's only expressing an opinion, he isn't responsible for the blood that was spilt. Economics my arse - Misery.

When we eventually left the Warport, we pulled into the side of the road, close to where the peacecamp was held, to rendevouz with Ed. Mick and a detective Hayes, immediately pulled in too. Our names and addresses were taken and pleasentries exchanged.

author by Elainepublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 05:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Lillies For The Bureau Lady
Lillies For The Bureau Lady

Scattered Rose Buds At Your Feet
Scattered Rose Buds At Your Feet

Ed Gets Walked To His Car
Ed Gets Walked To His Car

author by Cormac Eilepublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Can anyone explain to me what justification was given for removing Ed from the airport? Isn't this a free country? Is he not entitled to go and be anywhere (this side of a customs gate), and speak his mind?

It is this kind of behaviour that seriously worries me.

When GWB arrived in Shannon to shore up support at home amongst Irish Americans, our government used our army and police to prevent our people from protesting against a visit by that warmongering ignoramus. It is a national disgrace. We are either a democracy or we or not. We either have the right to free speech all the time, or we don't have it at all.

I understand that GWB has son many enemies that he needed a great deal of security, but the people were hardly held back to protect his sensitive nature. They were kept back so that the media could take images of GWB in Ireland without protesters in the shot.

For all Clinton's sins, he didn't need that level of mollycoddling.

Ed, keep up the excellent work.

author by Cormac Eilepublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 13:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't think that FG, Labour, SF, or any of the others wouldn't roll over and accept a rogering from the US if they were in power.

Especially Labour under P. Rabbitte

FG would be at the airport cheerleading the US through. Abandoning our neutrality has been a core article of FG policy for years. Homer Bruton was a huge advocate of abandoning our neutrality. I've never understood the rush to abandon what seems to me to be a sane approach to foreign policy.

I'm sympathetic to PD policies in general, but I detest this kowtowing and facilitation of US foreign policy, and I detest the betrayal of the principles of our constitution. I think that future generations will look back on our time, and wonder why we allowed world politics to develop as it has.

author by Elainepublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 13:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Airport Cops had hayfever and didn't want Ed giving out flowers. Or maybe they didn't want him giving out information, in front of the information counter. Who knows, could have been a whim?

Come With Me
Come With Me

Here, I'll Link You
Here, I'll Link You

author by Cormac Eilepublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 13:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Could someone tell me on what basis the Gardai move protesters on? Surely there is a breach of civil rights in this? I'd really love to know.

author by Deirdre Clancy - Pitstop Ploughsharespublication date Thu Jul 06, 2006 14:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks to Ed, Tim, et. al for this action and for their ongoing commitment and tenacity around highlighting the use of Shannon for militaristic purposes.

I'm sure there are many tourists/staff who were delighted to get the flowers! It's a creative action.

author by Coilínpublication date Sat Jul 08, 2006 22:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the thanks, Deirdre. This was the least we could do on the weekend before the Pitstop Ploughshares appeared in court yet again in search of a fair trial.

Yes, the staff in the shops, café and bar were delighted, or in one case more accurately bemused, to receive the flowers or petals. :-)

Some of the people waiting for flights at tables outside the bar received them without comment.

And some of the staff at ticket desks seemed to be moved by the gesture - apparently disturbed by the thought of the Iraqi dead, symbolised so vividly in withering red petals.


author by Coilínpublication date Sat Jul 08, 2006 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cormac, I have received advice from a barrister to the effect that we do have a right to protest in a public place such as Shannon Airport, a right that is grounded in the Constitution and expressed in judgements in the courts. Even if the airport were ruled to be a private place - which, in view of its status as a public airport, it is not - it could and would be argued that, because the matter of troop transports is of such great public interest, we do have the right to demonstrate there, as long as we do not do damage, assault people, etc.

See, for example, this report:
Four Peace Activists Aquitted at Shannon
Note that the charges against the demonstrators were simply dropped.

This is of particular interest because I think attaching a banner could be counted as trespass. But the Gardaí apparently got tangled up in the ins and outs of the matter and attempted to bring wrongful charges against the activists, including notably Mags Liddy, who was standing on the ground below and did not attach a banner to anything.

In summary, we do have the right to protest at Shannon Airport, and the Gardaí involved may yet be prosecuted for their interference in the case cited above.

The signs are on it that the Gardaí have learnt that they must tread carefully lest they themselves end up facing criminal and/or civil prosecution, or being disciplined by the Garda Commissioner, for abuse of their powers. Certainly, Det. Sgt. Michael Houlihan made no attempt to interfere with us, although, as reported, he did offer an exchange of pleasantries with all takers. I found him to be a pleasant enough young fellow, intelligent and affable, but perhaps a bit too attached to promoting his own political viewpoint to peform his duties to the best of his abilities.

Presumably, Ed cooperated with airport security staff so as to lead them away from the rest of the party, who went about our business inside the terminal unmolested.

And possibly also to provide Tim with some dramatic photos. Though dramatic, these photos don't really capture the good, clean craic we had. :-)


author by Brendan Dpublication date Tue Jul 11, 2006 17:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Senator Brendan Daly quoted (full quote, exactly as it appears at the link above) today on Bloomberg, about the pull out of World Airways troop flights through Shannon.

``It's adding to the anxiety in the area about Shannon's future,'' said Brendan Daly, 66, a senator in Ireland's parliament and a resident of County Clare, where the airport is located. ``We just need more bodies, wearing uniforms or not.''

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