Grassroots shut down Shannon warport demonstration

8th Dec 2002

I arrived at around 9 to give a cheery wave to the branch men filming from the bridge. The coach didn't get off till about 9.30 and it was a fairly long and cold journey down. About 1.30 we pulled into a small housing estate near the airport - The Garda video van was right on time and pointed us in the right direction - Shannon community hall.

Inside about 250 people had gathered and a member of Gluiseacht was facilitating a mass meeting. There was some very general discussion on tactics - a clear space was to be flagged for people who wanted to be sure of taking part in Non arrestable activity. There was also a legal briefing and forms for people to fill out basic information, which the legal team would have in the event of arrest. We decided to march through Shannon town and onto the airport. We anticipated meeting a large force of Gardai at the "arch" marking the entrance to the airport to block further progress. The decision already seemed to have been taken to try to block the road non-violently on the pretext that the guards had already done so. I also raised the possibility of wandering around the fence which might mean they would have to follow us.

About 300 people marched to the airport accompanied by a huge ghetto blaster and generator in a trolley, a one humped donkey (see picture), fiddle, Bodhran and snare drum! There we were met by another small group swelling our numbers to over 350. The Gardai had a small line and a stop sign but nothing like the blockade we feared. After a brief pause for the cause we marched through them and on to the terminal.

Up to an hour was spent (wasted?) here with speeches, dancing and group hugs. After about half an hour two cop vans pulled off and there was a rumour of arrests near the "tail" monument on the way up to the terminal. I went down to check it out. It turned out to be a very moving symbolic protest by members and supporters of Dublin Catholic Worker. They had stuck pictures of killed Iraqi children onto the tail fin and then added red dye to the water underneath (at first we all though it was blood - which may have been the plan!) They then waded in to the water up to their knees and started singing hymns and saying prayers. Their leaflet stated:

"We act today in the non-violent resistance to our own silent complicity. We act in non-violent resistance to this conspiracy of mass murder embarked on by the Irish and US governments. We act to name the covert military operations at Shannon Airport for what they are - spillers of innocent blood."

No arrests were made but the police took their names and the may be summonsed later. There was also a bit of commotion as the police surrounded a young lad and removed something from him. They also threatened to take him down Shannon station. It turned out to have been an air band radio.

The demonstration at the terminal finally began to move off. A rough plan was agreed to move the march along the fence to see if there were any weaknesses. By now it was getting dark and quite a few people had drifted off. We squelched along the length of the fence. Even a few token pulls were enough to reveal that it had been well reinforced.

Barbed wire
Pic: Part of the new fence at the airport

A short stand off took place. At this stage I counted five police vans on the road behind us and behind the wire: two more mini buses of airport cops, one range rover, one van and three cars - all to protect tax payers property from tax payers and make it available to the death planes of a foreign super power! The airport manager and some of his Aer Rianta cronies stood surrounded by cops gloating at the crowd. A brief enquiry as to whether he had any brandy and cigars for the huddled masses seem to puncture his mood a little.

Suddenly a small group of young protestors tore back down along the length of the fence. The middle aged cops and my good self huffed, hoofed and puffed after them. One was grabbed and arrested. At this stage a few people had a bit of a pull at one section of fence - it was completely rigid. Time was moving on so, somewhat gloomily, the remains of the demonstration returned to the buses.

Our moods were very much lifted by a live report from Clare fm that two American planes carrying troops had been rerouted to Preswick airport in Scotland. The event got good coverage by all local stations, Today FM, 2 FM news, one FM and RTE one nine o clock news all mentioning the Grassroots network. The turn out was also very good with coaches from Galway, Cork, Dublin, Limerick and a surprise one from West Cork!


The next march to Shannon is organised by the Irish Anti War Movement on January 18th. Lets make it a big one



Other reports and pics


Mainstream news

Dublin protest


[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement members of an event they took part in or attended, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written] Note: Pictures are ultra compressed a week or so after they are uploaded to this site to save space on the server.


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