Friday, January 25, 2013

Business as usual in Shannon Airport for US military

Part of the monthly peace protest at Shannon Airport mounted since 2003 by
Shannonwatch, PANA, Galway Peace Alliance, Limerick Christian
Peace Group and individual peace supporters from other counties.


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore TD, has said that the government will
continue to rely on assurances from the US government that no rendition
flights are passing through Shannon Airport.
In a parliamentary response to Patrick Nulty TD, Eamon Gilmore said that
"Immediately following the first reports several years ago that the US was practicing
extraordinary rendition to transit prisoners, the then Government demanded and received
specific assurances from the US authorities that such prisoners had not been transferred
through Irish territory, nor would they be, without our permission. These assurances
were confirmed at the highest political level. They were of a clear and categoric nature,
relating to facts and circumstances within the full control of the US authorities. I am
satisfied, as previous Ministers have been, that it is appropriate for the Government
to rely fully on these assurances."
In opposition,Gilmore had repeatedly pressed for inspections of aircraft.In February 2008 he said "It is difficult to dispute the assessment of Amnesty that Ireland is clearly
contravening international law by allowing its territory to be used to facilitate extraordinary
rendition. Indeed, I would go further and say that the failure to assert our right to check
these planes, leaves Ireland potentially complicit in the kidnap, detention and torture of
people against whom no charges have been proven and who, in many cases, are totally

The Labour Party produced legislation, in the form of a private members bill from Michael
D Higgins titled Air Navigation and Transport (Prevention of Extraordinary Rendition) Bill 2008, to ensure that Irish airports are not used to facilitate extraordinary rendition.
On December 2010, Michael D Higgins said "The disclosure that the then Minister for
Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, was 'quite convinced' that Shannon Airport had been
used on at least three occasions by aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition of prisoners
strongly reinforces the case for a change in the law to ensure that Irish airports are not used in this way and that any such aircraft are subject to proper inspection by the Irish
authorities." Higgins was referring to the Wikileaks release of Ahern's comments.

Asked by Patrick Nulty TD to comment on the 250,000 troops passing yearly through Shannon, Gilmore said: "My department has primary responsibility under Irish legislation for foreign military aircraft seeking to overfly or land in Ireland, the vast majority of the US troops to which you refer pass through Shannon Airport on commercial flights. The regulation of civil aviation is primarily a matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. There are no plans to make any changes to the existing arrangements. In the event that permission is sought, my Department requires an undertaking from the relevant embassy that the aircraft in question will be unarmed; will not be carrying arms, ammunition or explosives; will not engage in intelligence gathering; and is not participating in military exercises or operations."

Ed Horgan of Shannonwatch has blasted the response saying "Mr Gilmore appears to have misled the Dail." "The US Embassy has been in gross breach of these provisions from 2001 to the present time. Well over 2 million US troops have passed through Shannon since 2001 mainly in civilian chartered aircraft. Each of these
soldiers carries with him/her on the aircraft at least one automatic rifle and in many cases also one additional pistol, and the appropriate ammunition for these weapons. In some cases the weapons may be carried in the cargo part of the aircraft, but in many cases they are carried in the passenger cabin of the aircraft. The carriage of these weapons on these aircraft was confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs when Brian Cowen, TD, was Minister".

  A US Hercules aircraft at Shannon Airport, a type which is a regular visitor
to the airport.

Gilmore in opposition: What he said:
"Not knowing is not good enough"

March 1, 2006
Commenting on the publication of today’s Council of the Europe report Labour Party
representative to the Council, Eamon Gilmore TD, has said the Irish Government is heavily
criticised along with a number of other Member States for its role into alleged
detentions of prisoners and rendition flights through its airports and airspace by the US
military and intelligence services.

"Extraordinary Rendition is an attack on human rights"

December 12, 2007

"Why has the Govt not compiled with the request from the Human Rights Commission to
inspect the aircraft through Shannon?"
"An effective inspection regime will ensure that no prisoners are transited through the State
en route to a situation of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
"Govt can't feign ignorance on extraordinary rendition following Council of Europe report"

Wednesday 7 June, 2006

"Labour Party representative to the Council of Europe, Eamon Gilmore, has said the
Government cannot maintain the pretence that it is blameless regarding extraordinary
rendition flights through Shannon Airport after the Council named Ireland as one of 14
countries that colluded with the CIA on these illegal flights."
"Following Amnesty report, gov must act on rendition flights"

Friday 14 March, 2008

"The government must now insist on the right to inspect aircraft suspected of being involved
in rendition. If, as the United States insists, there are no suspects on these planes, why
should they object to this being independently verified by the Irish authorities? Serious
consideration should also be given to banning from Irish airports any aircraft established to
have been involved in extraordinary rendition."
*Shannon - the facts:
2.2 million-The number of U.S troops who have passed through Shannon in 10 years.
250,000-The number of troops who passed through Shannon in 2011.
1,307-Number of planes granted permission by the Irish government to bring arms through
Shannon in 2011.
650-Number of armed troops passing through Shannon every day.
25-Number of US air force and miliray aircrafy passing through Shannon every month.
0-Numbers of inspections of aircraft carried out to investigate rendition.
*Source: Shannon airport, War and Renditions: Shannonwatch/PANA 2012.
(See sidebar links).

1 comment:

FearFeasaMacLéinn said...

Thanks, Paul, for that informative article. Look forward to more from you.