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Spirit of Contradiction >>
Farce at Shannon
anti-war / imperialism |
Sunday October 29, 2006 14:39 by Margaretta D'Arcy - Women in Media & Entertainment margaretta at iol dot ie
Security cockups; breaking through the cordon
How I bypassed security and found myself in the airport terminal when the army, the gardai, dogs, horses, helicopters were all mobilized to keep us out.
“Close Shannon Airport Down” demo, Saturday 28 Oct 2006.
Amidst the flashy high security, army helicopter buzzing overhead to drown out our call to dismantle the airport, army vehicles racing around, 200 gardai seconded from Bellanaboy and chauffered down at the weekend while the Shell workers are at home with their families, horses, dogs, Garda Steven Spielberg the Second out with his video, their security was shattered (oh what humiliation poor Willie O’Dea) another cockup as I strolled into the departure foyer with my poster under my arm how had they let me get there? Near-hysteria! Where had I come from? In fact, I had caught the Bus Eireann bus from Galway thinking it was going to stop at the Shannon shopping centre, but instead it carried me all the way up to the airport through two garda checkpoints, the driver having told them “Everyone’s for the airport,” – truth to tell, when I realized I was to be whisked away from the assembly point for the demo and would be faced with demonstrating on my own, I did wish the garda had spotted me on the bus and thrown me off -- well, there I was inside the building and my shout had to come out -- this is a military airport, it is not safe, leave at once!”
My videoing at Bellanaboy the previous week had after all achieved something: a garda bore down on me, it was like an old pupils’ reunion, he remembered me from the Shell site almost with affection. As he ushered me out of the air terminal a group of the Bellanaboy guards stood in a clump, some laughing and others looking worried, I had no business in the building, they ought to have prevented me, somebody had slipped up somewhere. A female garda (who had not been chosen for Bellanaboy but said she was longing to go) cried out, “I cannot believe it! My first real live protestor!” She examined me as though I was from a strange anthropologically-significant tribe, as I stood outside, still shouting my warning to the would be air-travellers, “Beware, danger inside!” My placard was taken from me: the female garda wanted it as a souvenir. Because I kept on shouting and the public began to be nervously aware of something not quite right about this airport, the guards put me in a car and very kindly gave me a lift down the hill to the demonstration site.
Once we had carried out our promised march from Shannon shopping centre to the designated place at the outer end of the airport approach road, the strange world of security provided us with a second farcical episode which might well have come from a classic Jacques Tati movie – two ex-CIA agents, an elderly husband and wife, were scheduled to speak about the iniquities of Bush’s war – inadvertently they had been driven (like me) straight up to the airport buildings and were now trying to get to us from the wrong side of the garda barricades, while the demonstrators were trying to persuade the guards to let them through to us. In a comical sort of way, they were in the end passed through to make their speeches.
But in truth, we should make it ever more clear to the public that Shannon is not a safe place to fly from, so long as it remains a war-base – Ed Horgan indeed told us all that he himself had just found out that a US military plane was actually on the airfield that very afternoon, with permission from the Irish government, but no-one had made any checks as to its cargo.