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Shannon - the vigils continue

category clare | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday July 17, 2008 22:30author by John Lannon Report this post to the editors

The regular monthly vigil against Shannon’s role in international torture networks and war-mongering took place on Sunday 13 July. Activists gathered at the roundabout just outside the airport and spent an hour reminding the public that there should be no place in Shannon for CIA torture planes or the US military.
Visual reminder to passers by that torture is happening in known and unknown US holding sites
Visual reminder to passers by that torture is happening in known and unknown US holding sites

The vigils which have been ongoing since January demand accountability for what is going on at Shannon - for the complicity in war, the international networks of torture, and the routine transiting of munitions and arms across the world. They are also small acts of remembrance of those suffering starvation, displacement, bereavement, torture and isolation as a result. And they are a reminder to the Irish authorities that steps must be taken to investigate whether or not Irish territory and airspace is been used illegally and against our wishes.

As always the peaceful protesters that gathered at Shannon airport on Sunday evening were surrounded by several marked and unmarked police cars and vans. Their occupants monitored the people attending the peaceful vigil closely, burning gallons of petrol as they drove around in aimless circles. They may have their explanations for why there is such a large presence of Gardai in attendance at every vigil, but it certainly doesn’t look like they are there to uphold the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

The presence of the police to monitor peaceful protesters at Shannon is in stark contrast to their refusal to monitoring the torture jets that use the airport, or to question the contents of the munitions/arms carrying planes. This refusal leads to a situation where questions exist over the arrival of all US registered aircraft at Shannon. Indeed while Sunday’s vigil took place, two US-registered executive jets sat on the tarmac inside the airport perimeter fence. These may have been engaged in legitimate activities but without effective investigations and proper reporting on the use of the airport by the CIA and the US military, there are doubts.

It is worth noting that Amnesty International’s June report on Europe’s role in rendition and secret detention reported a high-ranking Romanian official as saying that US pilots routinely filed bogus flight plans, or none at all, and flew to undeclared destinations. There is every possibility that the same is the case with flights into and out of Shannon.

On a more positive note, it was heartening to find that support from passing motorists and passengers seems to be growing. While the majority have not yet mobilised to demand changes at Shannon, there is growing disquiet at the shameful use of the airport to help inflict torture and suffering.

The vigils will continue. Next one is on Sunday August 10th from 5pm to 6.

author by lulupublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done all - we need to be reminded of the horrible deeds done in the name of democracy. Keep it up; some people's consciences will wake up to what's going on.

author by Mark Cpublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good work folks, well done. I keep meaning to get to these vigils but there's always something in the way of it happening (very, very young twins, visitors, meetings elsewhere, etc). I suspect there's many like me, so your numbers are probably much more than are visible.

Again, well done,

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Ploughsharespublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Keep on keeping on folks. Amazing the acceptance in Ireland of co-operating with torture and internment with these kidnap flights at Shannon.
Check out this film review in the Guardian of "Standard Operating Procedure" dealing with the issue.
Just released hope it makes it to Limerick

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author by B747 - nonepublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shannon is in Co.Clare Ciaron.............

author by Ciaronpublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very good on the gography there B baby, from memory you're right. But my guess is the closest urban centre with a multiplex could be Limerick at a guess. Hope the film makes it to Ennis as well

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri Jul 18, 2008 17:30author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

The need for vigils at Shannon; and for dedicated people continually to voice their displeasure at having the US military effectively invade the area, is greater than ever. As a writer, I am remain dismayed at the apparent reluctance of more Galway-based writers and artists to become more fully involved in this area. The same small number, often under attack from cynical pretend-socialists and other me-fheiners in the city, turn out dutifully and more praise to them. We should be grateful for their courage.

author by Mortimerpublication date Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Stay on topic folks. It is important that writers and musicians and other artists get involved in what is happening at Shannon. Their best use would be to exercise some sort of cultural pressure on local politicians. If they are not pepared for any of this, there isn't much can be done to persuade them. The US military presence on Irish soil is a disgrace and an insult to our sovereignty - surely everyone can understand that?

author by on topicpublication date Sun Jul 20, 2008 14:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What Fred Johnson says about Galway writers in his comment above amounts to a gross falsification of the facts, for which he should issue a public apology.

A reading from 'Poems From Guantanamo Bay' was held recently in Galway and several prominent Galway writers were actively involved.

See an article about it here.

author by Edward Horganpublication date Tue Jul 22, 2008 22:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Internal squabbling and self-flagellation within the peace movement is counterproductive. Lets save our anger and criticism for those who have either committed or been complicit in crimes against humanity.
Different individuals within the peace movement have the opportunity and inclination to commit to different levels of activism, at various times. This is the nature of volunteerism. It is pointless criticising others because we may feel they are not doing enough. Focus on what you can do yourself, and lead and motivate by example.
In my experience we all tend to greatly underestimate the amount we can achieve, and most peace activists prevaricate far too much. We need to seek out opportunities to promote human justice, and we need also to act when momentary opportunities present themselves.
Remember it is pointless regretting our failures, or others failures, to act in the past, and we can only waffle about what we might do in the future.
The only time we can actually act is in the present as it rapidly passes us by. The motto “if not I, who, if not now, when” has an awful lot more meaning that its few words might suggest.

We need all the support we can get down at Shannon, every weekend if possible.
If you can spare one hour for the people who are being tortured and unjustly killed and injured in unlawful wars, please do so by protesting at Shannon airport.

author by S.O.A.W.publication date Sat Aug 23, 2008 08:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Vietnam Veteran, Nonviolent Resister and a founder of "School of the Americas Watch"
addresses presidential candidate John McCain on changing his line on torture (vid 1.10)

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