US troops allowed carry guns through Shannon

US troops allowed carry guns through Shannon

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A Miami Air International jet arriving at Shannon – File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has confirmed that permission was granted for US military personnel to carry guns on a flight through Shannon Airport earlier this month.

Minister Shane Ross has told Dublin North independent TD Clare Daly that an ‘exemption’ was granted to troops on board a civilian airliner that made a refuelling stop at the mid-west airport on February 13th last.

The aircraft, operated by Miami Air International, continued to Kuwait City later in the day via Chania in Crete. The flight arrived in Shannon using a civilian call sign but departed with one used by the US military.

Deputy Daly had asked the minister whether the flight had “sought and received permission to transport soldiers, weapons or munitions.”

The minister has told Ms Daly: “The airline operating the flight referred to by the Deputy applied for an exemption under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973. My Department carried out the standard consultation procedure in relation to the application and an exemption was granted for the flight. This exemption was for the unloaded personal weapons of the troops on board the aircraft.”

A spokesman for Shannonwatch, a group that monitors foreign military aircraft movements at Shannon, said: “The fact that contract/civilian aircraft are carrying weapons is making a mockery of the requirement that military aircraft should not carry weapons.”

John Lannon added: “This anomaly needs to be addressed so that the law covers both military and civilian aircraft operating on behalf of the US military. It’s clear that the US authorities are taking advantage of this loophole that allows them take weapons on civilian airlines.”

“They are not adhering to Irish neutrality because if they are carrying weapons, they are obviously going into war zones. This is a clear breach of Irish neutrality,” Mr Lannon added.

Deputy Clare Daly also asked why this particular aircraft used a civilian call sign while on a military operation when in Irish airspace and when landing at Shannon Airport.

In response, the minister stated: “Call signs are a matter for the airline concerned.”

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick.

Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station’s flagship current affairs programme.

He was also the station’s News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day.

As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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