Time to end Shannon shame - Senator Paul Gavan
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, speaking as a guest of the Stop the War Coalition Conference in London today, has said it is time to end the shame of Shannon Airport being used as a forward base for US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Senator Gavan said;
"Irish people are proud of our status as a neutral country- opinion polls consistently show that they want Ireland to retain it's neutrality."
"But something has gone very wrong for the last 15 years. Successive Irish governments have decided to facilitate the US military with the use of Shannon Airport, with over 2.5 million US troops having passed through Shannon in the last decade and a half.This is an obvious and flagrant abuse of our state policy as a neutral country.
"The human cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is estimated to be in excess of one million deaths. Up to five million people have been displaced from their homes, human rights abuses are rampant and the country is in a continued state of war. The situation in Afghanistan is equally bad.
"Successive Irish Governments have turned a blind eye to the practice of rendition, the transferring of prisoners to so-called third countries for interrogation and torture, a clear breach of our Human Rights Law. Tom Clonan, a former Irish Army Officer and respected Security Analyst, testified to this effect.When Amnesty International presented our Government with proof of Shannon being part of rendition via flights logs of the planes involved they were ignored.
"Irish Governments have always been happy to accept US ‘assurances’ that its military planes are unarmed and carry no arms, ammunition or explosives. Clearly these large military aeroplanes are, according to the US Government, only ever carrying fresh air.
"The 2014 Oireachtas report on this issue showed that there is no significant financial benefit to this collusion. On the contrary, the Irish taxpayer has paid out over €42 million in Air traffic control fees to facilitate the US military.
“It's time to end the shame of Shannon, time to end US military use of our civilian airport, time we got our airport, and our respect as a neutral country back.”