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99 Red Balloon Peace Event Against RAF Killers This Saturday

category galway | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Wednesday May 27, 2009 16:46author by Niall Farrell - Galway Alliance Against War Report this post to the editors

The Galway Hooker Assoc & Liam Ó Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers Oppose Red Arrows

The Galway Alliance Against War will hold a 99 Red Balloon Peace Event this Saturday at noon beside the Spanish Arch to protest against an “air display” by the RAF’s Red Arrows. Nearly every one of the pilots participating in this war manoeuvre over Galway Bay at midday on Saturday has been involved in the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The invitation to the RAF killers came from Fáilte Salthill – an anonymous group of Salthill business people still hurting from the cancellation two years ago of the obscene Salthill War Show. The invite, however, coincides with the stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race and Discover Ireland has been more than happy to advertise this war display in its publicity campaign.

The Irish Tourist Board prefers to ignore the huge contrast between a totally environment-friendly event such as the Ocean Race and the Red Arrows’ war display. The latter is both morally and environmentally a pollutant. In contrast to Bord Fáilte, Cumann Húicéirí na Gaillimhe, the Galway Hooker Association, have issued a statement deploring the invitation to the Red Arrows:

“Tá Cumann Húicéaraí na Gaillimhe míshásta go bhfuil cuireadh faighte ag na RED ARROWS taispéantais a thabhairt le linn na féile a bheidh ar siúl mar chuide go rás Aigéin an Volvo. Deir an Cumann nach bhfuil aon bhaint ag na Red Arrows le féile séoltóireachta agus nár cheart go mbeadh a leithéid go thaispéantas cogaíochta mar chuid don fhéile seo.”

“The Galway Hooker Association is disappointed that the Red Arrows have been invited to display during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Galway. The Association states that there is no connection between a sailing festival and the Red Arrows and that such a display of war machines should not be part of this festival of sail.”

And support for GAAW’s stance continues to grow. Liam Ó Maonlaí of the Hothouse Flowers intends to voice his opposition on stage on Thursday night when the group plays at the Ocean Race Festival in Galway. He will be calling on people to join the GAAW peace event on the Saturday.

GAAW has now written to Brian Cowen calling on him to ban the Red Arrows. In an email the group refers to the revelations in the Ryan Report:

“The people of Ireland are rightly outraged by the revelations contained in the Ryan Report and condemn the brutality of the religious orders. Surely you agree, we must learn from this episode in our history. We should not remain silent in the midst of abuse of the innocent. The RAF pilots – due to perform in Galway – have been involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where innumerable innocent men, women and children have been killed through indiscriminate attacks by British warplanes. As you know, these pilots are trained to kill and terrorise. Therefore, is it not the height of hypocrisy to condemn the wanton acts of violence carried out by the religious orders and then to remain silent about the outrages caused by these RAF pilots? Or should pilots and planes that kill other people’s children be considered fun for our kids?”

This Friday night starting at 9.30pm in Monroes Tavern Galway, GAAW will hold a fundraising event at which the US singer/songwriter and political activist David Rovics will perform.

author by Real Galwegianpublication date Wed May 27, 2009 21:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I really am sick of these protests against the airshow. The of people of Galway show their support every year this is held with attendances of up to 100,000 people, whereas support for the protest can only gather less than 200 people (not sure of figures, but it is no where near that of attendances to the airshow).

I think the latest claim of threats to the bird life of Galway bay is laughable. what happens to the 99 balloons released. they will eventually burst and potentially land in the sea where they can be swallow by birds and eventually kill them. Airport green feild sites are some of the best areas for the conservation of birds. the birds around the airports seem happy enough with jets landing and taking off frequently.

Another fact that is the majority of modern technology used today has been developed through these so called war machines and these technolgies are used in our everyday lives.

GAAW are doing themselves no favours what so ever in gaining public support by protesting the airshow, perhaps their efforts would be better served supporting other causes. I ask what are they gaining for protesting this.

What right do GAAW have to say the Red Arrows should not be allowed to display here when so many people obviously enjoy them.

I also would like to know what does dancing, music, singing and any of the other festivities got to do with sailing. it is all part of the show including the the Red arrows display. we should welcome and publicity and be proud of the fact that the irish can still throw the one of the best parties in the world.

Another reason that the airshow should be brought back is that, it does bring bussiness to Salthill and in the current econonmic climate any business should be welcome to the area. i myself gain from extra work brought on through the crowds to salthill.

Bring back the airshow

author by Liampublication date Thu May 28, 2009 02:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Red arrows display team have never been armed and never will be, they have never served as an aggressor unit in any country.
Would you seek to destroy an RAF rescuse helicopter if it came to Galway.....?

Slan Liam

author by Paul o toolepublication date Thu May 28, 2009 09:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why dont you tell the families of the 2,300,000 murdered Iraqi civilians that the pilots of the red arrows fly arround Ireland with no weapons on board, and that your concern is about little birdies dying.
Im sure if you had to pick up the pieces of your loved ones after one of these RAF lads dropped a payload on your gaf, your concern for the birds would be minimised......i would hope.
There is a report out about the horrendous damage done to the natural enviroment in and arround baghdad in relation to the sustainability of animal and plant life after the agressors leave and apparently the Depleted Uranium ammunition they use has poisoned the ground, water and air for 4.5 billion years.
Besides we must endear ourselves to the warmongers cos we make 5 billion dollars/ annum on software that makes the weapons 'smart', cant be that smart if they cant discriminate against killing innocent birds.

Rovics, what a guy.......

author by Liampublication date Thu May 28, 2009 18:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I state again if anyone here has even the smallest bit of evidence that any member of the Peace loving fly boys or of the newly appointed female pilot has had in any way whilst on duty with the RED ARROWS display team ever dropped a bomb or fired a bullet from one of the UNARMED Bae Hawk jets then please provide the evidence.
The display team come over to this country by request of the Irish people or at least by the request of the Galway people, since it is the Galway city council who normally invite them.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Thu May 28, 2009 19:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They come here at the request of the same people who organised the Air Show. No secret of this is made in local media. It's part of a lead-up to re-inserting the Salthill Airshow.

author by Ciaron - Ploughshares/Catholic Workerpublication date Fri May 29, 2009 09:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Solidarity to the anti-war folks in Galway....

Meet the plane the Hawk Fighter "designed to fly low to bomb undefended or lightly defended targets" I recall expert weapons witness Paul Rogers testifying in the "Seeds of Hope Ploughshares" trial in 1996 (see John Pilger's Hidden Agendas" for report on this trial). At the time BAe Hawks were being sold to the Indonesian militaryto bomb East Timor, Indonesian pilots were being trained in RAF Valley, Wales, in how to do that


Meet the Crew...to qualify for the Red Arrows you have to complete a frontline tour...go figure! Iraq, Afghanistan it's all in the resume right here....


author by paul o toolepublication date Fri May 29, 2009 11:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When military hardware being 'put through their paces' at an air show being billed as family entertainment is lauded as a fun day out you gotta wake up and join the dots.
How more disgusting and morally debased can Irish people be to facilitate this kind of event. If we need to be entertained by killing machines it says more about those who go to watch, than even they are aware. It should be billed as 'The Sad Bas***ds day out'.
'A fun day for all those who dont give a f**k about anyone only themselves and them having their 'fun'.

....if you are well adjusted to life on this planet your screwed....

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri May 29, 2009 12:49author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

From The City That Brought You Anonymous Letters as a Way Of Life . . . .The newspaper 'The Galway City Tribune' today reports that some amiable genius says the GAAW should be 'run out of town.' Any threat to making money gets you lynched over here. This, coupled with the recent threat to shoot down the proposed red balloons, is turning Galway into one of the most violent cities in the world! But not to worry, the Volvo Ocean Race jollies are happening. We will be happy, people, no matter what. Even the RAF acknowledge in the same newspaper that peaceful protest is valid. So that makes them considerably more civilised than some of the towns' people over whom they are about to fly.

author by get realpublication date Sat May 30, 2009 01:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The statement in today's City Tribune was not anonymous; it was by Councillor Michael Crowe of Fianna Fail and can be read at

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Sat May 30, 2009 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My comment doesn't say that the statement was anonymous and it would help enormously if you would do more than merely look at the words. I said that Galway was a city which gave rise to anonymous letters. People who know what I am talking about will also know that the company I work for has been subject to abusive anonymous e-mailings and other correspondence for years. I can elaborate at length but I would prefer to state the fact then move on. Elucidation is for another thread. Cllr Michael Crowe's remarks were appalling and I have written a letter to The City Tribune concerning them. As a representative of Fianna Fáil and with his brother also running in the local elections, I would suggest that his verbose hard-man statements have done his election chances no good at all. Galway is trying to make itself out to be a modern and not a parish-pump city. Crowe drags it back fifty years. He's not, of course, the only one possessed of such an attitude. But what he has stated in the newspaper is a nasty, nasty call-to-arms for some of the more brutish and knuckle-dragging elements of the city and I would expect that the gardaí can root out the appropriate clause under which he may have committed an offence. If they want to, that is.

author by get realpublication date Sat May 30, 2009 16:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What is the connection between anonymous e-mails and letters you say your company has been the victim of and Councillor Michael Crowe's statement in the City Tribune? None at all as far as I can see.

author by get realpublication date Sat May 30, 2009 17:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree Crowe's comment is neandethal stuff. I'm sure though all the right thinking folks in Galway Alliance Against War would agree that allegations of intimidation against member(s) of their own group should also be fully pursued by the Gardai. Just found this here http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88478#comment233890

author by Pete.publication date Sun May 31, 2009 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don’t think a few little balloons have any real impact on our planet!!

Mother nature can do more natural damage in minutes than our little balloons can do in billions of years.

In 1991 the eruption of a single mountain, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, cooled the entire planet for 5 years, and certainly blew boulders right off the planet.

15 million tons (think about it!) of Sulphur Dioxide were blown into the Stratosphere


Awesome picture here.:


(Just 3 days later the US Air Force fled from Clarke Air Force Base from where the picture was taken.....the first American retreat since Vietmam I think.)


author by Niall Farrell - Galway Alliance Against Warpublication date Sun May 31, 2009 11:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Here is more research our comrade has dug up on latex balloons. The GAAW jury will be discussing this research and we welcome any verifiable research information for or against balloons from all sources - even from spineless ones such as mr/s catlady.
the research so far would suggest that latex balloons are environmentally friendly, it is the string that is the issue.
We sincerely hope that there will be no need for anymore red balloon events. but if so, we will make sure they are no harm to the environment.

In Don Burchette's first paper he conducted aging tests and measure the degradability of balloons. This is the paper that presents the widely quoted result that "latex balloons degrade as fast as an oak leaf." Don also conducted a literature survey of the biodegradability of natural rubber. The results can be found here.
No strings attached
A release WITHOUT RIBBONS can be accomplished using biodegradable cotton string. Latex balloons are BIODEGRADABLE. Hand tie them to avoid the plastic clips.

I will not do a hand-held/string release because of environmental issues. The balloons will biodegrade; ribbons don't. Plus, the added weight of ribbons and cards can prevent the balloon from reaching the necessary altitude to burst, so the whole balloon come back down to Earth.

Released balloons, will they have enough "oomph" to rise 5 miles up in the atmosphere to burst, thus fluttering down to earth and accelerating the biodegration process? At release time I'm sure you will get the visual effect you are looking for... pretty pearl balloons rising into the sky. What you won't see is some of them wrapped in power lines 8 blocks away.

If at all possible, try to hold the balloons in a bag or net, and then hand them to the people to release.

My customer wanted to give her guests a balloon on a string and have them release the balloons individually. I convinced them that our 'formal' balloon release will be more dramatic and spectacular and would allow the photographer/videographer a definitive time frame for photos.

NO STRING! Please, NO STRING! String will do the environment harm PLUS the rest of us all over the world will get %$#@ from the tree huggers (rightly so). No balloon released into the atmosphere should have any kind of string or ribbon attatched. Therefore, unless it is a single knotted balloon held by an individual, balloons are ALWAYS knotted and contained inside a bag or net before being released en mass.

There are biodegradable strings. But, until they completely decompose, these can pose a potential problem to birds and marine life. Not to mention the "litter" tangled up in power lines. So, the golden rule -- NO STRINGS ATTATCHED when releasing balloons into the atmosphere!

Curling Ribbon is a HUGE NO-NO. It will not biodegrade. Worse - when the balloon pops, the ribbon and the knot will fall to earth together. While the knot may be digestible to an animal that happens to eat it, the ribbon can bind the intestines. Raffia at least is digestible.

Several years ago a school wanted to do a balloon release but was afraid of getting flack from environmentalists. So the balloons had to be able to be brought back down. I tied the balloons in large bunches, put a long line on them and secured them to empty ribbon rolls. We did 20 bunches like this. Then they had the kids release them. So that their fingers wouldn't get cut, I told them to use a pencil inside the roll. Worked like a charm. They had the joy of the release and were able to retrieve all the balloons as well.
Use the right ribbons
If your client insists on a hand held release, there are a few options. Use very short pieces of ribbon, or use a natural fiber, like cotton or raffia, use an inflated 260 as the handle - this will also burst.

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