Independent Media Centre Ireland

Shannon Peace Camp 3rd Anniversary.

category clare | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Wednesday January 11, 2006 17:49author by Conor Cregan - Na Cosantóirí Síochánaauthor email info at cosantoiri dot org

Na Cosantóirí Síochána.

On Saturday 7th of January we returned to the doorstep of Shannon Airport after a three year absence to hold a 24 hour vigil to mark the third anniversary of founding a peace camp in protest against the use of the airport by the U.S. Military as pit stop for George W Bush’s War on Terror.

The official starting time was set for 4pm but as always these events have a set up crew who arrived on site at 11am. The lads from the Rossport Solidarity Camp brought down the marquee from Mayo and Tracy Ryan of the Bitchen Kitchen Started to prepare the evening meal. We were soon joined by two member of the An Garda Siochana who took our names and addresses. The senior of the two guards Sgt Con Ryan then started to get annoyed when we refused to give our date of births and even lied to our faces that we were obliged to do so under law. After he realised that we would not be forthcoming with this tantalizing morsel of information he left and started his own vigil at Shannon Airport by walking up and down the road occasionally rotating with another pair of his flat footed colleges. Over all the Guards maintained a dignified low profile through out the 24 hour period spent at Shannon.

Through out the day, people arrived, and we started to have a good feeling that the camp would be well attended. The previous march at Shannon organised by the “Irish Anti-War Movement” was a poorly attended and sorry affair causing low morale thought out the peace activist community in Ireland. Then around 4pm we numbered around fifty people and then all of a sudden around fifty more people arrived together making sure that it wasn’t the just “the usual suspects”.

There was quite a lot of interest from the mainstream press leading up to the event with radio interviews, a mention on RTE and newspaper articles. And the hungry press hounds arrived at the camp promptly for their pictures, sound bites and quotes. The big question of the day was “we as the Shannon Peace Camp calling for the Government to inspect the planes”? As this would fit nicely as a follow up to last weeks head line the Council of Europe and Human Rights Watch had called for the inspection of suspicious planes at Shannon Airport. There was a look of disappointment on their faces when we told them our demands.

We demand the Irish Government

Stop Shining the Shoes of the George W Bush and pals.

Stop facilitating George W Bush’s “War on Terror” and realise the expectations of the 150,000 people who marched in Dublin on February 15th 2003

Stop the CIA using Shannon Airport for the purpose of Extraordinary Rendition or any other illegal activities.

Stop The U.S. Military refuelling at Shannon or other airports in the Republic while in transit to Theatres of War

Stop the U.S. Military over flying Irish Airspace while transit to Theatres of War.

We applaud all peace activists in Ireland who have acted to uphold the constitution of Ireland and worked for peace throughout the world.

We started with an introduction by Tracy Ryan and Conor Cregan, (founding members of the first Peace Camp in 2003) who welcomed everyone, reminding people why we had returned to Shannon Airport. Since we were last here;

Over 600,000 U.S. troops have passed through the Airport. Over two thousand of them have did not enjoy the duty free facilities that Shannon Airport is famous for. One these men, PTE Casey Sheehan, was the late son of Cindy Sheehan who has staged her own protest camp outside George W. Bush’s range in Texas.

Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, 40,000 of them children, have been murdered and more have maimed, orphaned and left homeless.

Society in Iraq has plunged into anarchy. Where the people liberated by the Collation
Of the Killing are denied the prospect of paid employment as companies such as Halliburton, Kellogg and brown and countless others have carved up Corporate Iraq bringing people from developing counties who risk there lives.

Civil War is looming in Iraq if not already in progress with suicide bombers striking on a daily basis.

Secret prisons, Extraordinary Rendition and Torture Jets have been exposed with Shannon Airport’s integrity being dragged into disrepute.

Many of our friends have been dragged through the Courts and convicted for trying to highlight the war crime that is now Shannon Airport.

And Bertie Ahern revealed he is a socialist.

The second part of our vigil started shortly after when we planted a tree to remember and celebrate our friend Emma Carroll who sadly passed away in December. This service was attended by several members of the Carroll Family and friends including her father Aiden, sisters Mel and grace, and Emma’s boyfriend.

Emma Carroll RIP.

Emma was a founding member of the Shannon Peace Camp and a committed peace activist from Effin in Co. Limerick.
Emma who graduated from trinity College Dublin with a degree in psychology went on to do a masters in Humanitarian Aid though the Department of Agriculture. She went on to work with the London based NGO Children in Crisis running an Educational Centre for street children in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003. Emma organised a local soccer league with teams of local children whose jerseys where donated by her neighbours and friends in Limerick. After Kabul Emma returned to Ireland to work with the National Drugs Task Force in Clondalkin where she managed a unit working with addicts needing shelter and support.
Emma developed a form of cancer and was receiving treatment at the Mercy Hospital Cork. Emma sadly lost her battle with cancer on the 12 of December 2005 at the age of.
We of Na Cosantóirí Síochána and the Shannon Peace Camp mourn the loss of a good friend and cherish the memories we have of Emma at Shannon Airport in 2003.

Later into the evening people sat around the campfire as Mark O Connor entertained us with cover versions of pop classics such as the Final Countdown and something from Britney. Tracy from the Bitchen Kitchen was cooking up a storm serving a delicious vegan Curry, rice and pompidoms, Ties were forged over dinner with members of FEIC in Derry and Shell2Sea in Mayo who came to Shannon to show solidarity and share skills. Local Labour Councillor and former Mayor of Shannon Gregg Duff came to visit with the chairman of the local Sinn Fein Cumann Larry Donellon. They expressed an interest in creating a local Shannon anti-war group who might hold a weekly vigil at the airport.

After Dinner we enjoyed Shannon’s only cinema with Margarita D’Arcy’s award winning documentary “Big Plane Small”. This well made film documents Mary Kelly’s three trials in Ennis Circuit Court where she was charged with criminal damage for disarming a US navy C130 at Shannon Airport on the 29th January 2003. Margarita tells Mary’s story with honesty and humour that reflects Mary Kelly’s court battles in a fair and unbiased manner. Other films shown include “War on Trial” with the Pit Stop Plough Shares and unedited of actions at Shannon Airport.

During the 24 hours at Shannon over 150 people visited the Peace Camp. The Vigil was rebounding success with people who had visited the camp in 2003 returning again with gifts of soup and fire word showing their gratitude to the peace activists for sacrificing the home comforts for a day to highlight the war crimes being committed again the people of Iraq by the Coalition of the Killing.

Na Cosantóirí Síochána, the Peace Network was formed after a gathering of Irish & European peace activists in Co Clare in the spring of 2005. The collective draws individuals from various previous and current anti-war groups, is open to all and specific to none. We are committed to the non-violent direct action confrontation of the system that creates and perpetuates war as a negotiating tool in the resolution of conflict and international relations. More specifically, we demand an end to the use of Shannon Airport as a pit stop for war and torture.

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