Peace activists from around the country will gather at Shannon this afternoon to protest against the continuing US military use of the airport.
The event takes place two days after Armistice Day which is intended to mark the end of fighting in World War I and to honour the war dead. It will draw attention to how little peace there is in the world today and how Ireland’s increasing support for militarization is escalating global instability .
Armed US troops pass through Shannon on a daily basis, despite the fact that the country claims to be neutral.
“What is happening at Shannon Airport is in breach of international laws on neutrality and makes the Irish people complicity in US war crimes and torture” said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. The group have been protesting at the airport on the second Sunday of every month since 2008, but say that the human and financial costs of the military movements through Shannon are escalating.
“Many people are under the false impression that Ireland is gaining financially from US military use of Shannon Airport” said Edward Horgan. “The opposite is the case. The small profit made from refuelling warplanes and providing refreshments for US soldiers is dwarfed by the additional costs incurred over the past twenty years by Irish taxpayers.
“Added to that there are the costs associated with the unjustified prosecutions of dozens of peace activists, many of whom were acquitted by the courts. Security and other costs for the visit by US President GW Bush in 2004 may have cost up to €20 million, so the total direct and indirect costs incurred by the Irish State due to US military use of Shannon Airport may have exceeded €100 million.”
However these financial costs are far less significant than the costs in human lives and suffering caused by US led wars in the Middle East and Africa, as well as the costs in environmental and infrastructural damage.
“Up to 5 million people have died due to war related reasons across the wider Middle East since the first Gulf war in 1991. This included over one million children whose lives were destroyed, and in whose deaths, we have been actively complicit. Wars waged in the Middle East by the US and their NATO and other allies since the first Gulf War have been in breach of the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva conventions and other international and national laws.”
“Now Russia has joined the international law breakers by waging a dreadful war in Ukraine. This has had devastating impact on the people of Ukraine. It has also become a proxy war for resources between Russia and the US-dominated NATO. And in this context, the ongoing US military use of Shannon Airport could make Ireland a target for Russian military retaliation.”
Like others, Shannonwatch are hugely concerned that if nuclear weapons are used in the war, or nuclear power stations are attacked, the consequences for humanity could be catastrophic. The Irish government has failed to use its two-year membership of the UN Security Council to avert this danger, and to instead promote international peace and justice.
Several opinion polls demonstrate that most Irish people support active Irish neutrality, yet successive Irish governments since 2001 have eroded Irish neutrality and have involved Ireland in unjustified wars and military alliances.
Noting the significance of the date of the protest at Shannon airport, Shannonwatch note that Armistice Day purports to celebrate the heroes who died in World War 1, saying they died so that the world could live in peace, but that there has been little peace since. Up to 50,000 Irish men died in World War 1 which instead of creating peace was itself a cause of World War 2, the Holocaust, and US use of atomic bombs against Japan. International peace is as far from reality today as it was in 1914 and 1939.
Shannonwatch calls on the Irish people to restore Ireland’s active neutrality by prohibiting the use of Shannon and other Irish airports and seaports by US, NATO and other foreign military forces,” the organisation has said.