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Public Inquiry >>
Shannon Warport Peace Camp
anti-war / imperialism |
Monday January 08, 2007 18:33 by Conor Cregan - Cosantoiri Siochana
"Over one hundred CIA flights refueling at Shannon Airport"
On Saturday 6th January, Cosantori Siochana, hosted a 24 hour peace camp at Shannon Airport. This vigil coincided with the fourth anniversary of the first peace camp conceived on Nollaig na mBan during the build up to Geoge W. Bush’s war in Iraq. This was during a time when the world was mobilizing for war and peace. In year that the world screamed for leadership our weak kneed government signed its name to the death warrant of hundreds of Iraqi citizens. This act of treachery, praised by Bush, denied by Ahern. The murder perpetuates itself on daily basis on the streets, in the markets and in every state building with the butchers drying their hands through sands of the Iraqi desert
On the 20th of March in 2003 Bertie Ahern led his government into his biggest deceit to the people of Ireland. While his lieutenant stood in the inner circle of the United Nations Bertie Ahern signed a blank cheque for the US military to bring shame on the Irish nation. Without the ruse of a second resolution Ahern waved the young men and women US military through Shannon Airports duty free on their way to a heinous, pointless and what now seems an endless war.
Now twelve months on since na Cosantori Siochana set up our last peace camp we, again, call for ethical investment at Shannon Airport. We remember the thousands of people killed in Bush’s "War on Terror", including thousands of Iraqi and Afghani children, slaughtered by the U.S. military occupation of their country taking freedom’s name in vain. We call for an end to all war that that rages throughout the globe.
The last twelve months have been very eventful for the anti-war movement in Ireland. During this time the amount of US troops transiting to the theatres of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has surpassed one million and to date over three thousand have not made the return journey home. In modern warfare this number is very high but cannot compare to the civilian casualties that accumulate daily in Iraq.
A lot can happen in one year but the future does not seem to be bright for Shannon or Iraq. Here is a review of events in and around Shannon Airport during the last twelve months.
The year got off to a good start when Shannon Town Council passed the motion;
“Shannon Town Council supports the calls from across the political spectrum, and from members of the public, for the investigation of the possible use of Irish airports by the United States administration for the purposes of transporting prisoners for rendition for torture through Irish airports.”
This of course was ignored when less than twenty four hours when a US Hercules C130 made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport. This seemed to be a lucky escape for US service men who acquired a fault in one of the fuel lines whilst taking off from an undisclosed location.http://www.indymedia.ie/article/73658
In February Indymedia contributor Conor Cregan interviewed Bertie Ahern at the West County Hotel in Ennis during the national Ogra Fianna Fail conference in Ennis. This turned out to be a very entertaining piece but not everyone got the joke. Conor was locked into a room by an armed detective while Bertie made his escape into the conference centre. Essential viewing for the Brian Dobson’s of the world.
2006 was a busy year for Shannon Airport with record numbers of passengers passing through. Many VIP’s were among the millions of people that flew through Irelands second civilian airport but none as important as George W Bush who made two transit stops. Over 500 hundred members of An Gardai Siochana were on overtime as the sleeping US president blissfully passed through on his return journey after sorting out the problems in the Middle East. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74563
Throughout 2006 we kept the spotlight on the war crimes at Shannon Airport with some local demonstrations. In March we introduced the Black Shamrock Badge when members of the FEIC Campaign in Derry joined us for an unannounced protest at the terminal building at the Airport. This met with disapproval by An Gardai Siochana and the Airport Police who attacked us. We kept our cool as the authorities, under the command of Sgt Noel McMahon, tried to rip our banners out of our hands. Eventually they retreated and we proceeded to hand out Black Shamrocks to the patrons of Shannon Airport. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74933 In July Ed, Tim and others laid flowers at Shannon in rememberance of all the people killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77008
2006 proved to be a very embarrassing year for the Ahern regime. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union investigated the US Extraordinary Rendition programme and found some frighten results. The US has been detaining people in secret prisons in Poland and Romania. The two reports have been conflicting but the most recent has criticized member states including Ireland for their complicity in this practice. Ofcourse Ahern sent out his lieutenants to twist the truth but the facts would not lie. They tried to smear ex Irish army officer Ed Horgan an unpatriotic but could not match his credentials. Over 140 CIA flights have come through Shannon Airport and while others passed through Dublin and Cork. In his recently published book the Times journalist Stephen Grey confirms Shannon Airport to be the CIA’s second biggest hub in Europe. Suspected CIA flights have been logged regularly by plane spotters. The most recent was on the apron at Shannon Airport in December 28th of last year. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76505
Regular readers of indymedia might remember that one of the first confirmed Extraordinary Rendition flights was at Shannon. N379P or the Guantanamo Express passed through Shannon Airport on January 18th 2003. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/67865
This brought one Shannon plane spotter to Brussels where retired Commandant Edward Horgan presented evidence, to the European Parliament, of over one hundred CIA flights refueling at Shannon Airport. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75612
2006 was a year of victories in the courts for peace activists. In March the DPP finally dropped charges against four peace activists. Niall Harnett, Mags Liddy, Conor Cregan and St John Ó’Donnabháin were released from bail for want of prosecution by Judge Joseph Mangan on an application by the state to drop all charges against them.
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74769 Five days later a group of TD’s and Senators made a novel protest by flying into Shannon. The group was promptly removed by the Airport Police. Outside the airport they gave interview to the waiting press. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74888
On the 17th of March we commemorate the feast of St Patrick but in 2006 not everyone chose to celebrate our national saint. In a symbolic action a lone activist laid a hundred flowers at Shannon Airport to mark the US invasion of Iraq. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74895
In April the Irish Independent revealed that the US has transported Apache Helicopters through Shannon Airport with out authorization. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/75316 This story was first reported on Indymedia in February when the helicopters were loaded on to an Antonov 124. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74563#comment140451
May brought another major victory to our campaign. The biggest carrier of US troops World Airways announced they were pulling out of Shannon for the second time. In 2003 they pulled out temporarily as reaction to the actions of Mary Kelly and the Pit-Stop Ploughshares. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76233
In June the authorities at the airport started to take the rendition issue seriously. An Gardai Siochana stated that they had indeed searched planes at Shannon Airport. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76677
During the 2006 World Cup Germany’s airports where swamped with football fans and another troop carrier, Omni Air, started to use Shannon Airport. Ground staff at Shannon saw a man in chains on one of these flights and alerted the authorities causing a diplomatic incident. In an unprecedented move Bertie Ahern called a press conference to save face and once again the Irish Government gave permission in retrospect to the US military in the wake of a breach of law. Ahern told us the man in chains on that flight was US soldier and his namesake in the Foreign Affairs would still tell us no prisoners have come through Shannon http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76659. Workers at the Airport were instructed to watch out for US prisoners. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76685 An article in the Limerick Leader alleged that workers were convinced that many US planes were carrying more passengers than stated on the manifest. These vigilant employees have been ignored to date.
Later on in the year local peace activist Conor Cregan (citizens) arrested six US soldiers on the Limerick Road in Ennis. This made the headlines in the national news papers for the inept way the diplomatic incident was handled by An Gardai Siochana. The matter is still unresolved as Superintendent John Kearn of Ennis Gardai Station is still investigating the matter. The Dept. of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the soldiers were in breach of Irish law. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76801
Over three and a half years after they decommissioned a US warplane at Shannon Airport, the Pit-Stop Ploughshares, left the Four Courts victorious in August. Ciaran O’Reilly, Deirdre Clancy, Karen Fallon Damien Moran and Nuin Dunlop put Ireland’s participation in the US’s war on Iraq and Afghanistan on trial and were vindicated in their actions by twelve Irish citizens in the Dublin Circuit Court. http://www.indymedia.ie/openwire?search_text=ploughshar...et=20
During this time another war was raging in the Middle East. The Israeli Defence Force invasion of Lebanon had displaced thousands of people. Many of these refugees fleeing from the war were transiting through Shannon Airport to the United States for safety. Plane Spotters waited for the arrival of 100 GBU-28 at the airport. Israel had called for the US to accelerate the delivery of these “bunker busting bombs” to use against Hezbollah. Under pressure Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement that permission for these weapons transiting Shannon Airport would be denied. This would be just the start of the anti-war resistance to this heinous cargo. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77501
On Saturday 29th July a demonstration of 150 people stopped two Atlas Air 747’s from landing at Prestwick Airport. The planes laden with the so called smart bombs were diverted to RAF Mildenhall military base in Suffolk. A week later the local peace activists entered the airport when another Atlas Air 747 landed at the airport. The activists boarded a US warplane to carry out a citizen’s weapon inspection. They were acquitted later in the year as the crown prosecution failed to establish whether they had permission from the “Pentagon” to enter the aircraft. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/08/347102.html
After a long absence the anti-war movement in Ireland finally mobilized. Anti-war Ireland organized the only national demonstration at Shannon. Three ex US military interrogators spoke of the horrors in Abu Ghraib prison and how interrogators falsified information to meet targets.http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79356
Shannon Airport has been exposed to have been facilitating the world’s arms traders for decades. In 2006 leaked papers have shown the US to be transporting Apache Helicopters to Israel and M16 assault rifles to Bulgaria. These shipments were flown by ex-Soviet built airplanes. One such shipment went through Shannon on an Antonov 124 during the last stopover made by George W. Bush last March. The Russian logistics company, Volga Dnepr, has a permanent maintenance depot at Shannon so these massive cargo planes are regular visitors to Ireland. During the Horgan High Court case a motion of discovery was made by Judge Kearns and hundreds of documents were released by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. Many of these documents have used in the defence of peace activists. These documents confirm that the US and Israeli militaries have used Shannon Airport to ship missiles, including patriots, back and forth to both countries. Cynically these weapons of mass destruction are being transported by civilian cargo companies such as Evergreen Airlines and Polar Air.
This year local Councilor Brian Meany attacked peace protesters in a Clare tabloid newspaper. The Green party candidate pandering for Clare votes blamed anti-war activists for the spiraling costs of security at Shannon Airport. The state has wasted over five million since 2002 in policing Shannon Airport since 2002. This figure does not include the amount wasted when George W. Bush visited this Island in 2004. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79453
And these were some of the events at Shannon Airport in the year 2006. In thirty years time when the state release secret papers then we may have the full account of this governments complicity that is the “War on Terror”.