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Still more Questions than Answers at Shannon

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Sunday October 12, 2008 20:41author by John Lannon Report this post to the editors

Monthly vigil well attended, but questions over unidentified plane meets a wall of Garda silence

A relaxed yet determined crowd gathered at the monthly vigil in Shannon this Sunday evening to protest against the ongoing use of the airport by the US military and CIA. Not surprisingly there was an unidentified aircraft sitting on the airport tarmac at the time. And also not surprisingly, the Gardai were determined to stop any of the concerned vigil attendees from identifying it.

The vigil was brought forward from the earlier time of 5pm to the more travel/family friendly time of 2pm. As a result there was a large turnout of people from Galway, Dublin, Cork as well as counties Clare and Limerick. And while the organisers had absent-mindedly forgotten to inform the Gardai of the change in time, they need not have worried – the usual array of state-paid personnel were there on time. The uniformed cohort maintained a watchful presence on the airport side of the gathering, under the equally watchful eyes of their non-uniformed superiors.

The growing number of banners on display highlighted the growing support for the vigil, and the ongoing collaboration between groups across the activist spectrum. Amnesty International, Galway Alliance Against the War, the People’s Inspection Team, Cosantoiri Siochana, the Quakers were all represented at the gathering, and support was received from a wide range of anti-war war groups who could not attend on the day. Passing motorists beeped their horns and gave thumbs-up of support, and some of the more talented in the gathering provided song and poetry reading to the assembled crowd (thanks John and Fred!)

After the vigil ended at 3pm, a number of the people present felt it was important to ascertain the identity of a seemingly suspicious place at the airport, and to request an inspection if necessary. All too often, it is discovered that planes stopping at Shannon are on their way to/from Guantanamo or other places associated with the torture of illegally held prisoners. The concerned vigil attendees therefore went towards the airport to photograph the plane and to gather whatever other information was available. However they were obstructed by the uniformed Gardai who had hastily left their vehicles and were attempting to tell the group they could not proceed. Nonetheless the group continued towards the airport until they were stopped by a line of newly arrived Gardai who were willing to use force to stop anyone proceeding beyond the airport gantry.

After repeated questions regarding the identity of the plane, its purpose at the airport, and the lack of willingness from the authorities to investigate it, it was ascertained that the plane was not one of those known to be involved in the renditions programme. The group disbanded peacefully when this was established … but not before treating the assembled officers of the state to some song and poetry. It wasn’t enough to mellow most of their expressionless faces - but then again there were inspectors present, so it was probably best for them not to be seen to enjoy the good natured ribbing of the songster from Cork!

The serious side to the day’s events was that it once again highlighted the state’s determination to impede any investigation of the airport’s involvement in torture. The assembled officers either do not know or do not care that Ireland has been – and may continue to be - in contravention of international and national law (such as the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act 2000). Instead, the people attempting to gather evidence are treated as the law-breakers.

We look forward to the day when our police force will react with the same haste to the arrival of a torture plane as they did today when a few people went to ask about a parked plane.

(More pictures to follow)




author by Edwardpublication date Sun Oct 12, 2008 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

US Troops are still transiting Shannon airport on a daily basis. Today, an OMNI Air plane with up to 200 troops on board took off from Shannon airport having refuelled at Shannon on its way to or from Iraq or Afghanistan. US and British Generals now admit that neither war can be won. Both wars were unlawful, costing the deaths of well over one million people, many more millions injured. The financial costs to the US is now estimated at over Three Trillion Dollars, and is one of the major contributing factors in the current global financial crisis, but most commentators are ignoring this factor. The financial and structural damage costs to the people of Iraq are many times this amount. One Trillion dollars has I believe twelve noughts, three Trillion dollars looks like this $3,000,000,000,000.
A little child whose house is hit by a US bomb looks like a burned cinder.
CIA torture planes have been refuelled at Shannon since at least 2002 and some are still using shannon on a regular basis. Most prisoners who have been tortured are damaged for life.

At Shannon today we noticed an aircraft that we did not recognise and went closer to the airport to get better photos of the aircraft so that we could ascertain its registration number. We were prevented from going past the Security checkpoint (thats the checkpoint that the Gardai and Airport authorities were unable to prove was part of Shannon airport, when Conor Cregan's trial collapsed last week at Ennis court). The Garda Inspector in charge refused to investigate the ownership of this plane, and refused several requests from peace activists to go closer to the airport to identify the serial number of the aircraft. Eventually we were told by one of the Gardai that this was a Portuguese owned aircraft that was a regular commercial visitor to Shannon. We accepted this information at face value.
The photos of the aircraft that I took later revealed that its registration number is G-FLTL and it is a Macdonnell Douglas MD83, and it seems to be registered to Flightline Ltd, and may be leased to Volare air. It does not appear to have any CIA connections from what we know so far.

A special thanks is due to the 32 peace activists who attended todays vigil. We hope that similar or greater numbers will attend the future monthly vigils. they will be held on second Sunday of each month, and from now on the times will continue to be from 2pm to 3pm.

OMNI  AIR troop carrier takes off from Shannon
OMNI AIR troop carrier takes off from Shannon

Organised Confusion, Conor Cregan and his followers challenge Gardai failures to enforce the law
Organised Confusion, Conor Cregan and his followers challenge Gardai failures to enforce the law

Peace Vigil Shannon 12 Oct 08
Peace Vigil Shannon 12 Oct 08

G-FLTL at Shannon
G-FLTL at Shannon

author by Edwardpublication date Mon Oct 13, 2008 00:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Maguire entertained the crowd at the peace vigil including the 18 or so Gardai who struggled to keep order while obeying unlawful orders not to enforce law and order on the disorder within the aerodrome. Without the aerodrome on the airport road, which no one now knows whether its within or without the airport, the only order maintained was the other order of peace and justice applied by peace activists recently labelled "potential troublemakers" by a so-called justice of the peace.

Here is the song composed and sung by John Maguire:

A Garda’s Lot

(Tune: “A Policeman’s Lot”. Brackets for “repeat” phrases, if wished!)

Some oppose the military use of Shannon (use of Shannon)
Just because it’s wrong and contrary to law,
But effective opposition we’ve a ban on (we’ve a ban on)
And we’ll treat all dissidents to shock and awe.
Other visitors will get “Céad míle fáilte!” (míle fáilte!)
But not so this unruly Irish mob:
If you exercise your rights here, we will halt ya: (we will halt ya:)
All we’re doing is our bloody bob-a-job! (bob-a-job)
CHORUS: When imperialistic wars are to be run (to be run)
A Garda’s lot is not a happy one.
When imperialistic wars are to be run (to be run)
A Garda’s lot is not a happy one.

There are those who say we lack a working conscience (working conscience)
As we cannot tell a protest from a crime;
But a glance will show this claim is arrant nonsense: (arrant nonsense):
With our consciences we’re “working overtime”!
Like our bosses, we are just obeying orders: (’beying orders):
George says “Jump!” and Brian and Dermot ask “How high?”
And, so long as things are calm within our borders,
It’s not for us to think or reason why. (reason why).

It’s well known that by the Irish Constitution – (Constitution) –
That document that means so much to us –
We are bound to peaceful conflict resolution, (resolution),
So we hope that no-one gives us any fuss.
Our propaganda’s meant to keep you quiet, (keep you quiet),
But if the argument we haven’t won
We’ll call in the robocops – they’re such a riot! – (such a riot!) –
And we’ve always got the soldier with the gun…

John Maguire

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Mon Oct 13, 2008 02:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was an honour to be there today and read a poem or two and hear John's hilarious song. Some of the younger lady-gardaí - and I thought one of them was rather pretty, to be honest - still young enough to recognise farce when they saw it, could hardly keep from laughing at his Gilbert and Sullivan take. Nonetheless the lads and lassies in blue were under determined orders to prevent any of us moving beyond that legally disputable little cabin in the centre of the road to the airport. They were also under the usual vows of silence, save for their superiors, who thought patronising good ol' rural banter would do the trick. Otherwise, when one demonstrator moved forward, they were quick enough to bring out the old shoulder-and-shove technique. Yes, there were one or two who had been watching rather too much CSI Miami, but you'll have that. They were also studded around the place in 'unmarked' cars (one reading a Sunday newspaper) that were as 'unmarked' as an elephant in a creche. One can only speculate as to what major threat they took us for. Interesting that more than once passing cars heading into the airport gave us the old salute by a few honks on the horn or their drivers with a thumbs-up. Underneath the sunshine, songs, poems and banter, there was an unmistakable air of government-designated force on tap, just to show the US that Ireland is doing its duty for the Free World. There is a need, definitely, for more people to come and demonstrate at Shannon, especially now, since Shannon Town Council have voted unanimously for inspections of dodgy aircraft; a source, no doubt, of even more embarrassment for the lads and lassies in blue in that region. A policeman's lot is not an 'appy one!

author by Lara Hillpublication date Thu Oct 16, 2008 13:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It seemed fitting to me that John Maguire brought a song and Fred Johnston a poem to the vigil in Shannon last Sunday. More than poring over Amnesty's Human Rights Reports or the finer points of the Defence Act, it is music and poetry which inspire me to take action. I wish I had the capacity to easily digest legislation, but in fact it's Billy Bragg or Josh Ritter getting all riled up on my headphones that spur me to take the train west and stand for an hour on the second Sunday of the month. I'm always glad I let these songsters get my feet travelling to Shannon airport roundabout. The vigil has been a space and time for me to be silent and reflect on the victims of torture, to be grateful for my own freedom, to meet other activist groups and individuals, to learn about new initiatives like 'The Peoples' Inspection Teams', to be a witness to passing motorists and pedestrians, to stand in solidarity, to light a candle in protest. Recently I've been listening a lot to Josh Ritter's passionate song 'Girl in the War' and it's made me think again anti-war activism or as Josh Ritter would say 'setting my feet on fire, finding a way to help her, and praying the angels can hear me yell!'

Peter said to Paul
"All those words that we wrote
Are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go"
But now talkin' to God is Laurel beggin' Hardy for a gun
I gotta girl in the war, man I wonder what it is we done

Paul said to Petey
"You gotta rock yourself a little harder;
Pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire"
And I got a girl in the war, Paul the only thing I know to do
Is turn up the music and pray that she makes it through

Because the keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom
And the angels fly around in there, but we can't see them
And I gotta girl in the war, Paul I know that they can hear me yell
If they can't find a way to help, they can go to Hell
If they can't find a way to help her, they can go to Hell

Paul to Petey "you gotta rock yourself a little harder;
Pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire"
But I gotta girl in the war, Paul her eyes are like champagne
They sparkle, bubble over, in the morning all you got is rain
Sparkle, bubble over, in the morning all you got is rain
They sparkle, bubble over, in the morning all you got is rain

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Thu Oct 16, 2008 15:59author email sylfedcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone 087.2178138Report this post to the editors

Lara, this is one of the reasons why it is so important that writers play their part in protesting about what's happening in Shannon, and with a host of other social issues too. You've brought out a vital point: yet I never cease to be amazed at how many writers (of any kind) are NOT turning up to protest about Shannon, even though I have never met a writer yet who'd refuse publicity for a new book or a reading. I am trying to organise some poets and writers to read at Shannon at a future date; anyone interested can give me a shout.

author by Adrianpublication date Fri Oct 17, 2008 01:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Perhaps if your tone was a little more positive you'd have more success in getting poets, songwriters and the like down to Shannon.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri Oct 17, 2008 14:55author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone 087.2178138Report this post to the editors

I should've imagined that conscience would have been their guide. Surely you're not suggesting that they be molly-coddled and that doing the right thing should be advertised to them with incentives! Should one 'offer' them a reading at Shannon?! Would that make it easier? Pay their expenses? Promise them sunshine and a decent bottle of wine? Set up a stall so they can sell their books at one of the roundabouts? Even offer them a fee? I've made my statement and stand over it. Where are they? Now out of respect for Indymedia and to the people who protest at Shannon, I am attaching my e-mail and 'phone number so that you can carry on your debate with me personally, as it were, and leave this site clear of muddied water.

author by Adrianpublication date Fri Oct 17, 2008 16:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I rest my case. You'll get nowhere with hostile and destructive attitudes such as those you display here. Woody Guthrie didn't waste his time attacking other artists, he got on with singing his songs.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Sun Oct 19, 2008 00:31author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address 1, Carn Ard, Circular Road, Galwayauthor phone 091.526915/087.2178138Report this post to the editors

My e-mail is sylfredcar@iolfree.ie and my phone numbers are (091) 526915 and (087) 2178138 Now bring your argument to me and keep this site clear. I'd be delighted to hear from you. I'll throw in my address too.

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