Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shatter claims "immunity" for US Military at Shannon!



Under pressure of opposition questions in Dáil Éireann last week, Defence and Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, introduced a new concept of “sovereign immunity” for US Military aircraft using Shannon airport to tranship troops and their equipment and whatever else they might be carrying, to justify the failure of Irish governments to carry out their obligations under international human rights laws and neutrality laws in respect of misuse of the Airport by the US Military in the past 12 years since the illegal invasion of Afghanistan.

John Lannon of Shannonwatch, the locally based group of peace activists who monitor US activities at the Airport commented:

"The Minister for Justice and Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter has claimed that An Garda Síochána (Irish Police) has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft at Shannon or other airports because they enjoy "sovereign immunity". In effect this means that the government allows the US military to take whatever or whoever they want through Ireland, regardless of the human rights, security and other consequences.

His statement was made in response to Clare Daly, TD, who asked the Minister whether or not the Government or the Garda Commissioner has instructed Gardaí at Shannon not to search US military aircraft, or chartered aircraft transporting US troops, or aircraft associated with the CIA.

According to Minister Shatter, An Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions, and these apply to aircraft as much as to any other type of private property.  He was talking here about civilian as opposed to military aircraft.

The Minister said that these powers may only be exercised in circumstances where a member of An Garda Síochána reasonably suspects that an offence has been or is being committed. But, there have been plenty of incidents in which there were reasonable
grounds to suspect involvement in torture-related offences and these have not been investigated.

The Minister also said that An Garda Síochána has fully investigated a number of allegations of unlawful activity at Irish airports and files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in some of these cases. This is a claim that was also made by the government in their report to the fourth periodic review under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

At that time they noted that 17 complaints were received by An Garda Síochána regarding alleged rendition flights to/from Shannon Airport. "However they could only confirm that 7 of these were investigated"

Shannonwatch calls on the Department of Justice to make the outcomes of the investigations of all the complaints known, or if no investigations took place to explain why".

This new and outrageous attempt by Shatter to avoid legal responsibility for crimes at Shannon Airport is typical of his contemptuous attitude to any reporting of international law and human rights violations by the US Military or Israel and to the opposition who draw attention to these events on a regular basis, the monthly demonstration organised there by Shannonwatch being the most hated by this imperialist toady who, unfortunately for the Irish people, was put in charge of the Irish departments of Defence and Justice by the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.

There is no such thing as “sovereign immunity” for military transports in Irish or International Law; it is a spurious and malignant invention by Shatter to bolster his own pro-imperialist, pro-NATO and pro-zionist views expressed publicly at every opportunity along with vituperative and vicious comments on any opposition to his war-mongering and genocidal cronies in the Pentagon and Tel-Aviv.
The Hague Conventions, 1907:

The Second Hague Convention of October 1907, (Treaty V, Convention relative to the rights and duties of neutral powers and persons in case of war on land), specifically states:

“Art. 2.
Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”.

Although this Hague Convention of 1907(V) has not specifically been incorporated in modern  Irish Law by Dáil Éireann, the foundation of the Irish Free State/Saorstát Éireann in 1922, under the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, affirmed all laws previously in force under the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland remained in force unless amended or repealed by Dáil Éireann and a similar provision in the 1937 Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) regarding the laws of Saorstát Éireann, allows the 1907 Hague Convention, to which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a signatory, to be validly considered as Irish Law since no amendment or repeal of this convention has been enacted by Dáil Éireann.
Further, after World War II, the judges of the military tribunal of the Trial of German Major War Criminals at the Nuremberg Trials found that by 1939, the rules laid down in the 1907 Hague Convention were recognised by all civilised nations and were regarded as declaratory of the laws and customs of war. Under this post-war decision, a country did not have to have ratified the 1907 Hague Conventions in order to be bound by them.
This leaves no grounds whatsoever for Shatter’s spurious legalisms and such malignant inventions designed to give a fig-leaf of spurious legality for war-crimes and human rights violations by the world’s most aggressive imperialist power, the USA, must be vigorously opposed and rebuffed.



Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Shatter denies US illegalities at Shannon:


In response to opposition questions in Dáil Éireann today, Defence and Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, denied any illegal activities by US Military using Shannon Airport and used his time to attack Michael Wallace TD who was asking the questions

and Finian McGrath TD and Clare Daly TD, who intervened from the opposition benches, in his usual pro-imperialist way evading all criticism of the misuse of the Airport by the US Military with the connivance and collaboration of Shatter and his government contrary to Irish and International law:


Shannon Airport Facilities

 8. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence the cost to the Defence Forces of providing security for US military planes at Shannon airport.  [46647/13]

 30. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Defence  the reason at least one Irish soldier was on the ground at Shannon on 7 September when a US Air Force Hercules C130 was present.  [46646/13]
Deputy Mick Wallace:  Section 317 of the Defence Act 1954 states: "No person shall, save with the consent in writing of a Minister of State, enter or land in the State while wearing any foreign uniform." Only a few years ago, our current President, Mr. Michael D. Higgins, described statements by the then Government in respect of Shannon as one untruth followed by another. What is the cost relating to the provision at security at Shannon Airport and why is taxpayers' money being used to protect US forces at Shannon, particularly when the latter are in breach of Irish neutrality and are very often en route to countries further afield in order to breach international law?
Deputy Alan Shatter:  It is extraordinary that the Deputy's only international bête noire is the United States. He obviously is not concerned that 100,000 people have been killed in Syria or that there are difficulties in the other parts of the world for which no one can hold the United States responsible.
Deputy Finian McGrath What about the 100,000 civilians killed in Iraq?
Deputy Alan ShatterIn relation to the Deputy's question, An Garda Síochána has primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of aid to the civil power, ATCP, which in practice means assisting an Garda Síochána when requested to do so. These ATCP security duties include the protection and guarding of vital installations and the provision of armed security escorts. From time to time, the Garda also requests support from the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport. Such assistance has been provided by the Defence Forces since 5 February 2003. I can confirm that on the 7 September last, members of the Defence Forces were requested by the Garda to assist with security duties at Shannon Airport.

The following items are taken into consideration when calculating the costs involved in providing ATCP at Shannon Airport - security duty allowance, rations and fuel. The costs incurred for the period 2010 to 2012 inclusive were as follows:
2010:   €203,366
2011:    €259,739
2012:    €275,008
The costs for 2013 are expected to be broadly in line with 2012.
An Ceann Comhairle:  Am I correct in stating that the Minister is dealing with questions Nos. 8 and 30?
Deputy Alan Shatter Apparently so.
An Ceann Comhairle:  Both questions are in the name of Deputy Wallace.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Will other Members be able to contribute?
An Ceann Comhairle:  If we have time.
Deputy Mick Wallace:  I have as much respect for the likes of Vladimir Putin and what he does to disturb world peace as I have for Barack Obama, Islamic militants, Israel or whomever. I am opposed to all forms of terrorism, be they perpetrated by an individual or a state.
In March 2011, the Labour Party - Fine Gael's partner in government - stated that it would be enforcing The Hague convention on neutrality. According to the convention, which defines the rights and duties of international law, neutral countries are forbidden to move troops or convoys of munitions of war or supplies across their territory. We have seen pictures of soldiers with guns, and not just in uniforms, on the ground at Shannon. I do not believe that this is appropriate if the country is to have any semblance of neutrality. We like to think that we are neutral in some way.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  As the Deputy knows, US planes transporting members of that country's military have landed at Shannon for many years. There is no reason, in the context of the use of Shannon, that we should impede such transportation in any way. Indeed, there is no suggestion of which I am aware of any difficulties arising at Shannon Airport. I draw to the Deputy's attention that the business generated as a result of this use of Shannon is very important in the context of maintaining the viability of the airport, which plays a crucial role in the context of facilitating access from the United States through to other locations. I really do not understand what is the Deputy's difficulty. There is no suggestion that American soldiers landing in Shannon have ever behaved inappropriately or have done anything other than contribute to the local economy.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  They are just on their way to kill people elsewhere.
Deputy Mick Wallace:  A few years ago, the current Tánaiste wondered why the then Government had not complied with a request from the Human Rights Commission to inspect aircraft travelling through Shannon. The Minister states that this use of the airport is good for business. I accept that it is good for business but at what price? Let us not forget that plenty of civilians pass through Shannon. If we are going to allow military personnel who are often armed to pass through our airport in order that they can fly on to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Yemen and destroy the lives of others, then I am of the view that the price for facilitating business is too high.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Hear, hear.
Deputy Clare Daly:  Absolutely.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  The Deputy has obviously failed to notice that there is a group in Afghanistan called the Taliban-----
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Do its members travel through Shannon?
Deputy Alan Shatter:  -----which generally believes that it should enforce the most extreme form-----
Deputy Finian McGrath:  The Minister's pal-----
An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Finian McGrath should allow the Minister to conclude.
Deputy Alan Shatter: -----of Islamic law whereby no woman should be educated or appear in public without being completely covered-----
Deputy Mick Wallace: This has nothing to do with the questions I tabled.
Deputy Finian McGrath: What has this got to do with Shannon? So the Minister supports the American war.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  ----- and that girls going to school are seen as reasonable targets and can be shot. Also operating out of Afghanistan is al-Qaeda, which planned and carried out the destruction of the twin towers in New York. The Deputy seems to be of the view that the sole focus of evil in the world is the United States and that there are no other trouble spots on the face of the planet-----
Deputy Clare Daly:  Is the Taliban using Shannon?
Deputy Alan Shatter:  -----where individuals violate fundamental rights, seek to prevent normal communal activities and discriminate against women in a very foul way, treat them as second-class citizens and attempt to prevent them from accessing any form of education.
Deputy Mick Wallace:  The Minister might be interested to discover that 19 of the 20 people who were involved in the 9/11 attacks in America came from autocratic states protected by America.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Hear, hear. Those are the facts.
Deputy Mick Wallace:  The Minister should get his facts right.
An Ceann Comhairle:  Members are supposed to pose questions.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Yes, but the Minister is misinforming the House.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  I do not believe Deputy Wallace asked a question.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  Will the Minister stop coming before the House and acting as the USA's poodle in respect of international issues? The reality is that many people who operate in the human rights arena are genuinely concerned about the use of Shannon Airport by people on their way to bomb and kill others. Those of us on the Opposition benches have always opposed all forms of violence but the Minister is blatantly supporting US policy, end of story.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  When one must use abuse, one is losing the argument.
Deputy Finian McGrath:  There was no abuse.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  I would not describe myself as a poodle or any other type of dog. I like dogs and am of the view that we should encourage people to keep pets because the latter brighten their lives and give them other interests.
The only country Deputy Finian McGrath and some of his colleagues ever pillory for its conduct is the United States.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  I would love to see him, Deputy Mick Wallace and perhaps Deputy Clare Daly jumping up in a similar manner to address issues involving the violation of fundamental rights by Russia or in Iran, Iraq and a whole range of other countries.
Deputy Mick Wallace:  Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Alan Shatter:  There are violations of rights, particularly of women, in Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Mick Wallace: What about the Americans?

Deputy Alan Shatter:  The United States does not get everything right or do everything right. We are, however, dealing with a simple issue, namely, the transport of troops and the use of Shannon Airport. The airport has been used for many years in that context and there is no reason it should not continue to be so used. It is of particular benefit to the airport and the local economy that it is so used".

What we are actually dealing with is the use of a civilian Airport by one belligerent in several areas of conflict in the Middle East and Asia and no other parties in such conflicts. The only country using our territory to tranship its military and their equipment to these conflicts is the United States. So, the Minister's attempts to drag in other parties to these conflicts or extraneous matters is typical of his evasion tactics which he employs on every occasion when these questions are raised in our parliament, Dáil Éireann. The Minister wants to excise from the discussion any comments on the ultimate purpose of these military transports which is to bomb, maim and kill human beings in other countries so that Shannon airport can show a profit at the end of the year. So, we ought, according to this immorality, move out of the recession by assisting the US to wade through the blood of innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia,Yemen, and latterly Syria and wherever else the US Military wants to trample its jackboots on?

If he wants a debate on human rights issues in other countries, he can put it on the order paper himself anytime he wants and no doubt the Opposition will facilitate him; Israel, for example? 

In December, 2008 and January 2009, Israel launched a large-scale assault on the Gaza Strip using white phosphorous as a weapon against civilian areas which is a violation of International Law. Some of this deadly material was shipped from the US to Israel through Shannon Airport, as there were no stocks of this material available in Europe. Hundreds of men,women and children in the close-packed populated areas of Gaza suffered horrendous injuries from the illegal use of this substance by the Israeli forces.

          White phosphorous bombs rain down on GAZA during Israel's vengeance attack in 2008/9

                     Israeli military handling White Phosphorous shells at the Gaza border, 2008/9

The London "Times" newspaper reported:

January 8, 2009
Photographic evidence has emerged that proves that Israel has been using controversial white phosphorus shells during its offensive in Gaza, despite official denials by the Israel Defence Forces.
There is also evidence that the rounds have injured Palestinian civilians, causing severe burns. The use of white phosphorus against civilians is prohibited under international law.
The Times has identified stockpiles of white phosphorus (WP) shells from high-resolution images taken of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) artillery units on the Israeli-Gaza border this week. The pale blue 155mm rounds are clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made WP munition. The shell is an improved version with a more limited dispersion of the phosphorus, which ignites on contact with oxygen, and is being used by the Israeli gunners to create a smoke screen on the ground.
The rounds, which explode into a shower of burning white streaks, were first identified by The Times at the weekend when they were fired over Gaza at the start of Israel's ground offensive. Artillery experts said that the Israeli troops would be in trouble if they were banned from using WP because it is the simplest way of creating smoke to protect them from enemy fire.

Confronted with the latest evidence, an IDF spokeswoman insisted that the M825A1 shell was not a WP type. “This is what we call a quiet shell - it is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it,” she said.

Human Rights Watch reported:

“Human Rights Watch’s investigation into the fighting in Gaza concluded that Israeli forces were responsible for serious violations of the laws of war, including the use of heavy artillery and white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas, the apparent targeting of people trying to convey their civilian status, and the destruction of civilian objects in excess of military need. Some of the cases of white-phosphorus use demonstrate evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said last month in a 71-page report.

“The military’s finding that ‘no phosphorus munitions were used on built-up areas’ is blatantly wrong, Human Rights Watch said. Immediately after major fighting stopped, Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza found spent white phosphorous artillery shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets and apartment roofs, in residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. Artillery shells containing white phosphorus also struck a hospital and the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), both in central Gaza City”. 

"All of the white phosphorus shells Human Rights Watch found in Gaza are from the same lot, manufactured in the United States and marked: THS89D112-003 155MM M825E1. THS89D is the manufacturer identification code denoting that the shells and contents were produced in April 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace, which operated the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time; 112-003 are the interfix and sequence numbers, which denote that several lots of the same ammunition were being produced simultaneously; 155mm stands for the caliber of the artillery shell. M825E1 is the US military designation for an older remanufactured M825 white phosphorus shell that has been brought up to the current M825A1 standard".
“Additionally, Reuters news agency photographed an IDF artillery unit in Israel near Gaza handling M825A1 projectiles on January 4, 2009 with the lot number PB-91J011-002A, indicating that these shells were produced in the United States at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in September 1991”.

Mr Shatter, then an opposition TD, made no complaints about this outrageous war crime. No surprise though, as he is a proclaimed Zionist and supporter of Israel.
He sheds crocodile tears for Syria, but, choses to ignore the financing and training of Syrian jihadis by the US at its Camp Bondsteel base in NATO-Occupied Kosovo, under the noses of Irish Army "peacekeepers" stationed there, as extensively reported by Zagreb newspapers earlier this year.. Never mind that this a blatant breach of the UN Security Council Mandate for  NATO and Irish troops in Kosovo which he and his government are complicit in. Some hypocrite.
He ought to be careful, though, in provoking the current Opposition to his government as he might get his wish and questions might be submitted on human rights in other countries, including Israel, although this would likely be unpalatable to such an ardent Zionist like himself. 







Shannon Protests continue


Protesters who attended the monthly peace vigil at Shannon Airport on
October 13 vowed that the protests, maintained since 2001 when the Afghan
War began, would continue until the Irish Government honoured its commitment made in 2011 to enforce international law at the Airport as the
majority of the Irish people wished according to the latest opinion poll last

A large contingent of peace activists from Dublin and other cities travelled to
Shannon to join the local activists in their protest and some of them were
interviewed during the journey by Connolly Media Group:

Aircraft Identified:
The aircraft which landed on September 5 last in breach of Irish Neutrality and so-call "assurances" by the US Government and its Embassy in Dublin has been identified as a USAF Hercules C130W registration 87-9288. This is one of the "gunship" versions of the C130 and is armed with two 30mm cannon in its usual array.

                                          USAF Hercules C130 with weapons system on port side.

30mm Cannon are weapons capable of demolishing concrete buildings and destroying vehicles
including armoured types such as tanks and APC's. Needless to say, human beings in the path of destruction wreaked by aircraft like these stand no chance of survival. The presence of this aircraft
on our territory is grossly offensive to our sovereign rights and the Irish people's Constitutional commitment to settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.

The Irish Government's explanation of this event as an "administrative error" by the US  military authorities is farcical and unbelievable. No US military aircraft could leave the USA except on a defined mission and detailed flight path whether filed in public or not. 

The Irish Government must be more forthcoming with the public on how this aircraft was allowed to land and not detained and impounded under the Defence Act 1954. The Irish people require no less from their Government and the Garda Síochána responsible for law enforcement at Shannon Airport.

Later today in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Michael Wallace will ask the Minister for Defence to state the cost of additional security at Shannon Airport due to the use of the airport by the US Military.