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Up late in Shannon on shortest night of the year
anti-war / imperialism |
Tuesday June 22, 2004 19:01 by Tim
After the AWI press conference in Limerick, Conor and Fiona went out to Shannon. They saw some big military cargo planes and decided to go back out later with telescopes etc. I went with them, and here's what we saw.
Got to Shannon about 11:20, waited for Conor and Fiona to arrive.
There were two Gardai whose sole duty seemed to be walking around the Lidl car park. They'd little enough work to do besides ask Aisling and Fiona for their driving licenses and hold us up until detectives came to follow us for the evening.
We left the airport at 00:35 just as a Boeing 757 was landing on runway two-four. (going south west)
We drove up the back to the viewing area, to find a Garda answering the 'call of nature' in a hedge away from the unmarked white courier van he was using. (it's a remote spot)
Anyhow, we set up the telescope and had a gander. In the middle of the airfield, parked and lit up, there was a white 747 Freighter with *SOD ALL* visible markings (not even on the door flaps for the nose gear) and a UPS jet in behind it.
At the 'pen' at the terminal, there was the 757 which had just landed. It was getting plenty of attention of course, APOs, Gardai etc.
Less than 30 people on it, from what we could see (but it's a big plane, see link for pic).
The military would call it a C-32A instead of a 757.
It was one of those VIP jets from the Military Air Wing (89th I think) which transports Bush, Cheney, and the other head honchos.
It had the same paint scheme, white on top, with the light blue on the bottom, and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in big black letters on the top of the fuselage. The stars and stripes on the tail above 90003.
Colin Powell sometimes travels on this plane, but I can't say I saw him last night.
We had more than one interaction with the Gardai while keeping an eye. They made some caution about taking photos, and we reminded them that its legal to take photos in public places and permission is not required from the Gardai in advance. after that, they just stood around wathing us, watching the planes. The dog unit also came and went (but that's another story。。。）
The VIP jet took off again at 01:50, headed west.
We drove around a bit to show Fiona the honk pub which, rumour has it, is being paid 5,000 per day to remain closed during the Bush visit.
We were stopped briefly by a female Garda who had chemical toilet at her checkpoint (no going in the hedge for her then).
As for the unmarked 747 freighter, we had a closer look at that Later. According to Conor, the nose was open earlier for cargo unloading. He also said a C17 was in that afternoon and there was stuff taken off it, probably for the Bush visit.
We went down by Westair to look at the lit up side of the 747, and a Garda from Sligo stopped us and tried to invoke the air transport navigation act, only to have it thrown back at him by people who'd actually read it.
He also wanted to know if we were the same people who'd been walking around there 10 minutes earlier. (?)
We denied it, and he insisted that we had been walking around.
I explained that we couldn't be in two places at once and if he walked to the car behind us to ask the two Gardai in plain clothes, they'd be able to give him a full report on our movements for the previous 10 minutes and more. After conferring with his colleagues, he let us through.
Interesting, though... The last time we were there we spotted repairs to the fence, and were asked if we had cut them, so I wonder who is wondering around evading the Gardai. Not that it's difficult if one actually WANTS to evade them.
There's loads of barricades gone up. The tall gird barriers along the road between the airport and the main industrial estate entrance (barriers on the side of the road and along the central traffic island)
In the industrial estate, there are solid metal barriers forming a wall. One could easily get around them though as the wall ends 20 feet from a footbridge exiting the estate. I wonder if this solid wall is just for hiding large numbers of riot cops?
the wall ends about 150 yds from the temporary cop shop/detention centre/ district court in the old warehouse next to Mohawk factory. so, if for some reason the police arrest lots of people, they're perhaps more likely to go there than to Shannon Garda Station.