Give Ireland Back Our Civilian Shannon Airport – Gavan
This morning, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan addressed the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to the increased activity by US military aircraft at Shannon Airport last month, which happened to coincide with the time period of NATO’s Annaconda military exercise.
Senator Gavan said:
“Shannonwatch has substantial evidence of mid-air refuelling aircraft landing and taking off from Shannon, as well as aircraft overflying Irish airspace.
“The activities of certain planes indicate that they were likely being used to refuel other US military aircraft in mid-air, either in Irish controlled airspace, or possibly as part of the NATO Anaconda exercise – which was the largest NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold War.
“If this is the case, it is not only a clear breach of Irish neutrality, but is also in clear breach of assurances given that all US military aircraft using Shannon airport are not on military operations or military exercises.
“We have no idea what these US military planes landing at Shannon and overflying through Irish airspace are carrying because no one searches them.
“The government has repeatedly refused to conduct searches of these military planes, arguing that ‘trust’ and ‘diplomatic assurances’ by the US government are good enough.
“For myself and my party, this good faith is not good enough.
“According to expert security analyst, Dr Tom Clonan, Shannon is a virtual forward airbase of the US military, and in February 2015 told a court that if Shannon was being used by any other group to cause the type of damage that the 2.25 million US troops that have passed through Shannon have caused, then the US would rightly identify it as a target.
“Dr Clonan went on to say that by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military base we are contributing to war and human rights abuse.
“US military use of Shannon contributes nothing to the profitability of the Airport, and has cost the taxpayer over €40 million in financing the air traffic control fees.
“I am aware of several people who have stopped using Shannon Airport because the US military are using it. Our neutrality is being diluted and our International reputation is damaged.
“Minister, give us back our civilian Shannon airport.”