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Peace Protest and US warplanes at Shannon airport
anti-war / imperialism |
Sunday June 28, 2009 13:36 by Edward Horgan - Shannonwatch
Torture Remembered and condemned
On 26 June, Amnesty Ireland issued a special report "BREAKING THE CHAIN: ENDING IRELAND'S ROLE IN RENDITION". At the launch of the report, Colm O'Gorman Amnesty Director described as "barely credible" Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe's statement that he did not believe that Shannon airport was being used by US flights involved in extraordinary rendition.
Meanwhile, business as usual at Shannon, with Omni air troop carriers, Hercules C130 warplane, and National (Murray) Air munitions plane at Shannon on 27 June 2009
Peace activists prevented from going to Shannon airport by token security
Ten peace activists from Shannon, Limerick, Dublin, Galway, Westmeath and Germany, marched from Shannon town centre towards Shannon airport. A large and unnecessary force of gardai, using up to nine different Garda vehicles temporarily prevented the peace activists from going to the airport by erecting barriers supplied by a local contractor across the public road to the airport. The nonsense of this procedure was emphasised by the fact that one hour prior to the demonstration there was no Garda or airport police presence at the checkpoint on the approach to the airport, and less than one hour after the protest all this security had evaporated. The airport terminal building was wide open to any malicious or terrorist attack, as it is at most times and on most days. The vast amounts of money being spent on Garda and army security at Shannon is simply to prevent peaceful unarmed peace activists from publicising the complicity with crimes against humanity that is taking place at Shannon. Connor Cregan and Edward Horgan were forcefully prevented from walking along the public road towards the airport. The Gardai refused to give a reason for their actions. Garda Hallisey refused to tell me under what law he was preventing me from going to the airport, and referred me to his superiors, and said he was simply "Obeying Orders". I pointed out to him that under the Nuremberg criteria, obeying unlawful orders can be a capital offence.
We retired for a cup of tea at about 4.30 pm.
Because we were aware that warplanes, troop carriers and munitions transporters were due at the airport, a number of us drove to the airport after 5 pm. All the "special security" elements had gone home at this point. It would be interesting to find out just how many hours overtime they have all claimed for. They had abandoned their posts by 5 pm.
As I approached the airport I observed an aircraft owned by National Airlines (formally known as Murray Air) taking off from Shannon. As I was driving I was unable to get a photograph of this plane, but my information is that it was on a flight from its home base in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, to Baghram airbase in Afghanistan, with military cargo, that probably includes munitions. National airlines (Murray air) is licensed by the Irish Government to transport depleted Uranium munitions through Shannon airport, according to their PR spokesperson.
I then drove into the airport without being impeded by any Gardai or airport security personnel. As I entered, I observed one OMNI Air troop carriers at gate 40 and another OMNI troop carrier just landing (see attached photos. There was also a Hercules C 130 warplane parked in the central area of the airfield. This Hercules was being protected by an Irish Army security detachment. They were parked in their 4x4 vehicle less that 50 meters from the warplane, far too close to be in any position to prevent a terrorist attack on this plane or on any of the other several US military associated planes that were at the airport on that day.
The question must be asked also: Why do the Irish army provide a special security detachment for US military planes such as the Hercules C 130, but never provide similar security for the OMNI Air warplanes each carrying up to 200 US troops to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and why do they not provide security for the CIA planes that have been associated with the torture rendition programme that are still being refuelled at Shannon? Why are the Irish army at Shannon at all? Indeed, why are the US army allowed to transport an average of 500 armed US troops, large quantities of munitions and other military logistics through Shannon airport every day?
Why, and why, and why?
I phoned the Garda station at Shannon town, and spoke to Garda Sheridan. I requested that the Hercules C130 warplane be searched and investigated in case it was carrying prisoners or dangerous munitions. He informed me that he would refer my request to his superiors.
I was then joined by John Lannon and we approached the airport security officer in the terminal building. I repeated my request to him, to have the Hercules C130 searched and investigated by the Shannon airport security. He informed me that he would pass my request to his superior. I waited for half an hour, but there was no response in this time either from the airport security or the Gardai to my requests for search and investigation of the US warplane. I also spoke to Airport Police Inspector Jonathan Quinn, and offered to help with searching the US warplane, if he did not have the resources or authority to do so. He declined my offer. I had been at the airport for almost one hour at this time, and I had to leave for another engagement. I again phoned Shannon Garda Station and spoke to Garda Sergeant Noel McMahon, about my request to have the US Warplane searched. He said this would be referred to his superiors, and that there was a Garda patrol car on its way to the airport. I asked him if this Garda patrol would be searching the aircraft, and he said this would be a matter for a decision by his superiors. The Garda patrol car had not arrived by the time I left which was after 6 pm.
The Gardai and the Irish Army are reportedly spending millions of Euro each year providing special security for US military use or abuse of Shannon airport. Yet no effective security is being provided to protect the civilian airport users, or to prevent acts of terrorism. The only effect of the flawed security that is being provided is to harass peace activists who are highlighting and whistle blowing on the complicity with crimes against humanity that is ongoing at Shannon.
Two Omni Air troop carriers at Shannon 27 June 09
US hercules C130 warplane with Irish army escort, Shannon 27June09