Tag Archives: Shannon Airport

On Saturday.

Vice-president of the US Mike Pence, on his way to the US, posed for photographs with US soldiers at Shannon Airport where they made a refuelling stop before their onward journey to Iraq.

Meanwhile…

In Baghdad, Iraq last Friday…

The New York Times reported…

Throngs of Iraqis gathered on the streets of the capital, Baghdad, on Friday to protest the United States military presence at the behest of a leading populist cleric and armed forces with ties to Iran.

The demonstration came three weeks after the United States launched a drone strike in capital that killed the Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and a prominent member of the Iraqi government, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, with close ties to the Popular Mobilization Forces, some of whom are close to Iran.

Days later, at the urging of the Iraqi prime minister, the Parliament endorsed a measure demanding the expulsion of foreign forces from Iraq, which in the minds of most Iraqis meant American troops.

The protest on Friday was the first designed specifically to denounce the American presence in Iraq since the parliamentary measure.

Protesters Mass in Baghdad, Demanding U.S. Leave Iraq (New York Times)

Tens of Thousands of Iraqis mass in Baghdad to Demand Expulsion of US Troops, Hang Trump in Effigy (Juan Cole, Informed Comment)

Rockets ‘hit US embassy’ in Iraq capital amid anti-gov’t protests (Aljazeera)

US military planes at Shannon Airport; tweets from Irish Times journalist Simon Carswell

This morning.

Iran’s ambassador to Ireland Masoud Eslami spoke to journalists in Dublin.

Simon Carswell, of The Irish Times, reports:

On the question of whether Shannon could be targeted by Iran in response to US military action against Tehran, Mr Eslami said: “I would rule that out for the time being. This is a very far speculation. We are very far from such a situation.”

Mr Eslami called on the Irish Government to reconsider Shannon Airport being used by American troops transiting through Ireland as they travel between the United States and the country’s military bases in the Middle East.

“In principle, we would ask the authorities to reconsider the use of Shannon Airport to facilitate military action by the US, which has been an issue at the local level, at the national level in Ireland,” the diplomat told reporters at the Iran’s embassy in south Dublin.

Slain general Suleimani was Iran’s Michael Collins, says Iranian ambassador (Simon Carswell, The Irish Times)

Previously: For The Record (August 2014)

Nothing To Read Here (September 2014)

Dirty Stop Overs (July 2014)

US military planes at Shannon Airport

Further to the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani by a US drone at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq, last Friday…

This morning on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, presented by Cormac Ó hEadhra, Dublin MEP Clare Daly referred to the killing as a “catastrophic breach of all norms and the crossing of a red line”.

She went on to say Ireland is “culpable or complicit” when it comes to the actions of the US military, given its use of Shannon Airport.

Ms Daly added diplomatic assurances that there are no weapons onboard the planes are not good enough and that is why she and and fellow MEP Mick Wallace attempted to search a US military plane for weapons in Shannon Airport in 2014, They were subsequently arrested.

She said:

“We know from Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, the US Army veterans who were in Ireland for most of last year, that they transited when they were in the US Army through Shannon and that they had weaponry on them.

“So there’s no doubt about it. Why else would they be passing through to the Middle East? Thousands of troops are not going on their holidays.

“Clearly they’re engaged in military action and the monitoring of that aircraft by local groups on the ground, Shannonwatch, Shannon Radar, would vindicate that…”

She also said that she believed Tánaiste Simon Coveney should strongly condemn the “unlawful, illegal action of the United States government”.

She added:

“I think, in response he [Coveney] should say that all permission of the US military, to transit through Shannon [Airport] is being halted until the matter is investigated further.”

Meanwhile…

On Thursday, at 7pm, outside the US embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance will hold a protest against a war on Iran.

They write:

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance along with a broad alliance of people from human rights to climate change activists and anti-war groups is calling for your support for this vigil outside the US Embassy in Dublin this Thursday.

Listen back in full here

“I’ll See What I Can Do”


US Army veterans Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff; President Michael D Higgins at the New York Library; and Zaidie Mayers speaking to President Higgins in New York

Two US army veterans and members of Veterans For Peace, Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, aged 82 and 77, were arrested on St Patrick’s Day at Shannon Airport.

It followed them protesting against the continued use of the airport by the US military.

They’re accused of causing €2,500 worth of criminal damage to the airport’s perimeter fence, as well as unlawfully trespassing into a taxiway.

They’re now awaiting trial and, on Monday, appeared before Ennis District Court, with the court hearing that they’ve sought a transfer of the case from Clare to Dublin.

Their case will be up for mention again on October 29 – when a date for a hearing of the transfer application will be set.

Last week they took part in a ‘Boots On The Ground For Freedom’ walk – in protest against the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.

Further to this…

Yesterday, in New York.

President Michael D Higgins was doing an interview with WYNC, during which Ellen Davidson, wife of Tarek Kauff, rang into the show.

Ms Davidson, who lives in Manhattan but is currently based in Dublin, said:

“I understand President Higgins is a big supporter of Irish neutrality so I’m wondering why the Irish Government is allowing US military flights to go through Shannon Airport in violation of that neutrality, bringing troops to the Middle East, to the wars that cause the refugees he’s been talking about.

“And, also, about the case of two US veterans who did a peaceful protest against those flights in March and they’ve been held in Ireland ever since, without their passports, on very minor charges, for a peaceful protest.”

President Higgins responded:

“Yes, I think that your caller will know these are issues, when I was a member of parliament, I spoke and acted very often. I do think that the issue – the two people whose case I am familiar – is a matter for Government and I will draw the attention of Government to it.

“But you’ll appreciate that as president, I cannot interfere in the  executive decisions of Government.”

Meanwhile, also yesterday…

At the New York. Library.

President Higgins took part in an interview with journalist and senior writer at the New York Times Dan Barry.

After the interview finished, Zaidie Mayers, the granddaughter of Mr Mayers, approached President Higgins and raised her granddad’s case.

President Higgins said:

“I’ve read about the two people who were on that walk. I’ll see what I can do.”

Related: Ex-US military men seek to have Shannon security-breach trial transferred to Dublin (Gordon Deegan, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: Story Of Why

Thanks Niall Farrell

 

This morning.

Flight operations at Shannon Airport have been temporarily suspended after a plane had to be evacuated this morning.

Air traffic controllers noticed a fire and smoke coming from the aircraft’s landing gear as it taxied along the runway.

Omni Air International is a civilian airline that transports personnel for the US military.

It is understood that the Omni Air International Boeing 767-300 was about to depart when the incident occurred.

Flights disrupted after plane evacuated at Shannon (RTÉ)

He is back among us.

A welcome return to Mildly Indifferent Island.

Love Island’s Greg O’Shea Feels The Love On His Return To Ireland (RTÉ)

Greg O’Shea?

Previously: Everybody Loves Greg

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers

While I was happy to see your prominent coverage about my husband Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers getting arrested at Shannon Airport, I was disappointed that there was barely a reference to why these two members of Veterans For Peace risked arrest and spent nearly two weeks in jail without bail.

There is no mention of the fact that the US uses Shannon Airport to refuel military flights, in direct violation of Irish neutrality, and that a US military-contracted aircraft was, in fact, on the tarmac the morning they were arrested, which was confirmed by the arresting officer at their arraignment.

Since 2001, Shannon has been a pitstop for flights of US soldiers, weapons, and munitions to its illegal wars in the Middle East and for rendition flights carrying prisoners to US torture sites.

Millions of troops have flown through “neutral” Ireland on their way to the US-created and supported murder and mayhem in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other places.

The Irish Government is thus complicit in the war crimes and atrocities committed by the US military.

Authorities have turned a blind eye to the situation, and Ken and Tarak were trying to get local police to enforce Ireland’s neutrality and inspect the aircraft.

Tarak and Ken were treated well in prison and made friends among the guards and other prisoners, many of whom supported their action and encouraged them to “keep protesting”, and I hope they can also be given a fair hearing in Ireland’s leading newspaper as to the important motivations for the actions that landed them in jail.

Ellen Davidson,
Woodstock,
New York.

Shannon Airport’s US protesters (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Meanwhile In Shannon

Pic: Popular Resistance

From top: Shannon Airport air traffic control; The skies over Ireland last night

IAA investigation under way into radar failure (RTÉ)

From top: Monthly peace vigil at Shannon Airport; Ciaran Tierney

It’s just an ordinary Sunday afternoon at Shannon Airport.

Funny how, in an upside-down world, the small group of peace activists waving flags at a roundabout are made to feel like criminals while the police force ‘protects’ members of the most powerful military in the world . . . just a few metres down the road.

It’s almost a pantomime at this stage, as everyone knows his or her role.

On the first Sunday of every month, the peace activists descend upon the roundabout on the fringes of the civilian airport.

They unfurl their banners and flags, and commuters, bus-drivers, or cars containing families honk their horns in support as they drive by in sunshine, hail, wind, rain or snow.

It’s some record. They haven’t missed a first Sunday of the month for over a decade now and, indeed, the protests have been going on for a lot longer.

They wish they didn’t have to meet at the roundabout, that they could find something better to do on a Sunday afternoon. But every month they feel a need to return.

One man makes the round trip from Donegal, it takes him ten hours by bus. Another comes all the way from Dundalk. He feels he has to make the effort.

Others have less of a journey. Former Irish Army man Edward Horgan and academic John Lannon, who never seem to miss a monthly Sunday gathering, make the short trip out from Limerick City. Quite a few drive down from Galway.

Horgan and Lannon are the two main men behind Shannonwatch, the group of peace activists who protest at the airport every month.

Their mission is simple, to highlight the fact that a ‘neutral’ country is continuing to support the US war machine, to raise awareness, and to remind the Irish Government and international community that this civilian airport on the west coast of Ireland could be facilitating war crimes.

For them, Irish neutrality actually means something. With talk of a European ‘super army’ on the horizon and President Donald Trump set to visit in November, their monthly protest seems as timely and relevant as when they began to assemble outside Shannon over ten years ago.

Even today, as I write this, the National Security Advisor to Donald Trump has attempted to discredit the International Criminal Court. He has described the internationally recognised court as “illegitimate” and “dead” in the eyes of the superpower which uses Shannon every day.

It’s pretty easy to discredit a court if you feel you have something to hide or you are in breach of international law.

They know the routine.

The activists stand at the roundabout. A young lady sees the irony when she pops into the new Starbucks nearby to pick up a coffee. Drivers and their families honk their cars in support. And the gardai maintain a safe distance, sometimes driving up close, though, to monitor the activists and their parked cars.

There are rarely confrontations, but the gardai maintain a visible presence. After all, some of these activists have undertaken direct action – breaking through the airport’s perimeter fence in order to try to inspect the US military or chartered civilian planes. The protest starts at 2pm and finishes within an hour.

It’s a small but clear reminder that not every Irish person is happy with the fact that US troops land in Shannon on their way to and from their wars in the Middle East.

This month’s protest could not have been more timely. During the one-hour vigil at the airport, two Omni Air planes on contract to the US military landed at Shannon.

Shannonwatch activists, who track the military flights in and out of the airport, told me that one of the planes was coming from a NATO base in the north of Norway. The other was on its way to the US from Kuwait.

They said they had no idea whether there were up to 600 troops or cargo on board, and they were pretty sure that the Irish authorities had no idea either.

Horgan, who has a camera with a powerful lens, invited me to join him at the perimeter fence. He focused his camera on the two planes, under the watchful eyes of plain clothes gardai who pulled up alongside him as he took his photos.

Now in his late 70s, with a respected military background, he told me he was banned from flying from Shannon. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, given that he lives just down the road in Limerick.

But he made headlines across the globe when he decided to inspect a US military plane as he was about to board a Ryanair flight to London. Ed does not believe in mellowing with old age as he is disgusted that nobody in Ireland has a clue about who or what is being carried on the military planes at Shannon.

Horgan took legal action against the Irish state in 2003, on the basis that the US military’s use of Shannon violated Ireland’s status as a neutral country.

He finds it strange to be under scrutiny from the gardai every time he brings his camera along to his local airport, but he’s determined to continue annoying those in power.

To him, the criminals are inside the airport fence, not those trying to document their movements from the outside.

As the wind howled around us, Lannon told me that the Shannonwatch people had no intention of giving up their monthly protests.

They will be back at Shannon next month and they hope to organise a huge demonstration if, as expected, President Trump used the airport when he visits Ireland, and nearby Doonbeg in particular, in November.

“Two planes arrived here today which have been contracted out to the US military. One of them has just arrived in from a military base in northern Norway. We believe it may have been involved in some NATO exercises,” he tells me.

“We track these planes as best we can on websites. We photograph them. These are military planes. We have our own way of tracking these planes. It’s not just with cameras, we use software to track them. We believe they are involved in NATO exercises even though Leo Varadkar and all our Ministers promise us that the planes that land here have nothing to do with NATO.”

Shannon has served as a refuelling stop for warplanes and protests have taken place there ever since President George W. Bush began his ‘war on terror’ with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Most of the military flights since then have been to or from countries in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria.

A decade ago, concerns were raised that Shannon was used for rendition or torture flights by the CIA.

In 2006, the Irish Independent reported that a cargo playing carrying Apache helicopters had landed in Shannon on its way to Israel.

In 2008, Irish activists became suspicious about a C-130 Hercules plane, normally based in Little Rock, Arkansas. They linked it to white phosphorous, a weapon known to cause horrific burns, which originated in Arkansas and was used in the bombing of Gaza.

Given Irish people’s traditional support for and empathy with the people of Palestine, such claims would alarm many Irish people in a supposedly ‘neutral’ country.

Few Irish people want to be associated in any way with war crimes.

But of course the peace activists have no proof.

Nobody does, because no inspections have ever been carried out on US military or contracted planes during their stopovers at Shannon.

Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway, Ireland.

Just another Sunday afternoon at Shannon (Ciaran Tierney)

Previously: For The Record

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 09.47.34

Last Sunday.

Shannonwatch, which monitors the use of Shannon Airport by US military planes, reported that more than 730 US military flights landed at the airport in 2016 – more than two a day over the entire year.

Further to this…

Rabble writes:

In light of the revelations that the United States were open to leaving Shannon in 2007, but did not at the behest of the Irish Government, add to this the obvious security concerns of having military personnel at a civilian airport, and factor in the cost of at least €45million to the Irish taxpayer.

We ask the question, why is the US military still using Shannon Airport?

We headed down to Shannon and talked to Ed Horgan and John Lannon of Shannonwatch, who have been part of a monthly peace vigil which has ran unbroken for the last nine years.

Video by Jamie Goldrick, Thom McDermott and James Redmond.

Archive footage courtesy of Eamonn Crudden.

Additional footage from YouTube users MrStecon92, PlaneHDSpotter, & SandySueWho.

Why Is The US Military Still Using Shannon Airport? (Rabble)

Previously: For The Record

‘We Didn’t Go Into Iraq With Kalashnikovs’

Thanks Rabble