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While Driving through Ennis town yesterday afternoon a local anti-war activist put six young US service men under (citizens) arrest. On Thursday morning an US troop carrier landed at Shannon with technical problems. This is a common occurrence with the chartered troop carriers that come through Shannon Airport. With an average of 1100 hundred troops going through Irelands second international airport on a nightly basis these aircraft are flat out ferrying young men and women to Iraq. Many of these stranded soldiers were billeted at the West County Hotel in Ennis near where peace activist Conor Cregan encountered six young US servicemen on the main Ennis to Limerick road.
Cregan immediately called for the six to stop. “I am placing you all under citizen’s arrest. Do not move” he shouted as the stunned men came to a halt. After assuring the men that they were not in jeopardy the peace activist made an emergency call to Ennis Garda Station. Cregan called for the Member in charge to send a van to pick up these awol soldiers but Garda O'Sullivan’s response was less than helpful. The deskbound officer was more interested to know if they were armed or their commander in chief George W Bush was among them. Mind you he wasn’t so funny when reminded that that all emergency calls were recorded.
This year -- as more and more mothers, in America, Britain, Italy, Spain, Poland as well as Iraq, mourn their fallen sons and daughters, lost to the insanity of organized violence -- Julia Ward Howe's call for women to not allow their men to constantly play at war is back in fashion, part of a growing awareness of the link between patriarchy and war.
'Comely maidens dancing at the crossroads' was what started it. DeValera's dismissive comment regarding women's roles in his vision of a new Ireland. Misquoted, of course, the actual word he used was 'happy'. So there we were, a bunch of women activists with nothing to do on Mayday (No RTS, aaaahhh) but be happy.
What better place than at the crossroads beside Herbert Park and the US embassy, right in front of DeValera's monument. Throw in a bit of dancing, a picnic with free food for all, send out a few invites, and see what happens...
This morning, Thursday 27 April peace activists from the Belfast-based Justice Not Terror Coalition staged a ‘die-in’ and blockade at the main gate of Thales Air Defence, Alanbrooke Road, Castlereagh.‘This symbolic and totally non-violent action effectively blockaded and closed down the main entrance to the Thales war profiteers site in Belfast for a period of time. We re-enacted an everyday scene from the streets of Baghdad, Samarra, Fallujah and other Iraqi towns and cities under US and UK military occupation’, said JNTC member Ann Patterson.
‘War profiteers Thales in Belfast specialise in short-range missiles for the British government’s war efforts. Arms traders such as Thales concentrate on strategies to make a killing from armed conflicts. We are calling on the decision makers in Thales to start using the expertise and skills of their workers in socially useful ways rather than manufacturing weapons of death and destruction’, said Mark Chapman.
For the record, the group of four, Tim Hourigan, Mary Kelly, Deirdre Morgan and Edward Horgan, who made a similar submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs on 20 Dec 2005, also offered to make a similar presentation to the EU Committee. The EU declined on cost grounds, and invited me only. However, I have received substantial help from a dedicated group of peace activists, mainly Irish, but with a few significant non-Irish contributors.
Over the past month a Garda has confirmed to me in confidence that they have been directed not to search US CIA aircraft or US military aircraft at Shannon airport, and that many of the Gardai disagree with this directive because it means “… turning a blind eye to the probability of wrongdoing, and we all know what terrible things such policies have led to in the past.”
In my submission to the European Parliament I called a spade a spade, and referred several times to the unlawful killing of over 100,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan and the interconnected rendition for torture programme, and the Irish Government’s complicity in these events. Many MEPs did not want to hear this, and the Irish MEPs in particular were embarrassed at Ireland being publically exposed for its participation in the Iraq War.
If Hitler and his ilk had been robustly challenged much earlier on the murders and torture they were committing in the 1930s, then many of their victims might have been spared. Yet it was considered politically or diplomatically incorrect to do so. 1945 was tens of millions of victims too late to accuse Hitler of mass murder. In my EU submission I referred to Britain as a “rogue European Union state because it is waging in an unlawful war on Iraq that has caused over 100,000 dead", and I referred to Ireland as a “rogue neutral state” for its breach of international laws on neutrality by its facilitation of the Iraq War at Shannon airport.
It was clear from the reaction that MEPs considered that my statements were politically incorrect. I can live with their criticism, but I cannot remain silent given what I know is going on, with a substantial degree of certainty.
Thu 20 Feb, 04:50
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