Mothers day on the long road to Shannon Warport

March 31 2003

Another day of protesting in the capital was followed by a plan for a 'slow march' to the Terminal at Shannon airport on Sunday.

So again for GNAW activists in Dublin this meant another early start. Clocks had gone forward an hour be we all still managed to be at Wood Quay for 9.30am. An elderly shrewd woman passer by asked what the red & black flags were for. We informed her we were anarchists on the way to Shannon for a protest and she told us how her local residents group were against this war. She wished us luck and told us not to get arrested.

We filled two cars and headed off on the N7 again for what seemed like the 100th time. I know the names of all the towns no matter how small. Boris, Mounthrath, Emo 2Km somewhere to the west of us and Toomeyvara where we have our favourite pit stop. After getting through Limerick the skies darkened ominously. We soon came across the largest road block I've encountered yet for one of these demonstrations.

Gardai barricade at Shannon

We tried to hide the flag poles. Fortunately the 12 Gardai were too busy stopping buses to worry about a Dublin registered car with a black hooded suspicious type riding shotgun with two 8 foot flagpoles inside the car. They stopped the bus from Cork, boarded it and searched peoples bags and belongings. Just another paragraph to the history of the intimidation of activists by the State.

We got through without being stopped as the boys in yellow were too interested in swapping jokes and going though pre-game analysis of the grand slam decider. We had some time to spare so we went to the Shannon peace house. This house and the people who live here have done an amazing job in highlighting the role being played by Shannon airport in this dirty war. They have shone a light on the proceedings in Clare and for that they are being harassed and hassled by the Gardai. Now the landlady is being hasseled into evicting her tenants. Another dirty little campaign being waged by the forces of law and order. Maybe we'll get another tribunal in ten years time dealing with their tactics here. As we parked around the corner from the house we looked directly at two special branch detectives sitting in the car in front of us. People at the peace house have helped with legal and prisoner support. They also still are documenting the planes and flights that come into and leave the airport ferrying troops and arms to the war zone.

We finally arrived into the car park shortly before 2.00pm. It wasn't looking very promising so we went to the pub to watch the rugby. Not my sport but I really enjoyed catching the first thirty minutes of the game whilst people assembled in the car park. I also enjoyed it knowing that the State had mobilised 400 cops for the demonstration and that they probably all wanted to see the game also.

Coffin at Shannon

At about 2.45pm we moved out of the car park. There was a lot of imagination on display in this demonstration. Cork had provided a black coffin with the words 'Neutrality' on it. This led the slow funeral procession out of the car park and down the road to Shannon airport. It was trailed by people dressed in black with white face paint on and blood red hands. There was a Charlie chaplain like figure on stilts looking very sad indeed. On either side of the coffin there was the Red and black anarchists flags. There was a Palestinian flag flying also lest we forget the genocide that Sharon's army is committing there.

Someone had brought along a ghetto blaster and a slow mournful requiem was being played for auld Irelands mythological reality contained in the black box. The darkness that was in evidence earlier in the day had disappeared and the sun shone down brilliantly on this scene. It reminded me of something that you would see on the set of a Fellini film. I don't really know what the local people who came to the door steps to witness the crowd of about a hundred file slowly past their houses made of it.

I looked up and saw the sun glint though the flag and though it looked like old propaganda shots from the Spanish civil war. The mood was fairly sombre and we had many changes of pall bearers. Once again some of the local kids came down to join us in masks and white boiler suits. After about 40 minutes we turned the corner so that we could see Shannon airport up in the distance. Just about 50 yards in front of where the peace camp had been there was a line of 30 of so cops. Then stretching both sides of this line with crash barriers - there was Gardai stretching into the distance on the far side of a 12 foot wide dyke.

Police and moat at Shannon

There was a lot of triple time over time being made by the lads and lassies in florescent yellow. This peaceful march was going no further. They made that abundantly clear. We sang songs and had a speak out with the megaphone being left on the coffin for all to come up and have a few words. The state was criticised its role in intimidating and harassing us. It was also taken to task for not letting us have a peaceful demonstration to the terminal. In fact we weren't allowed to get to the sign that welcome's people to Shannon airport.

Caoimhe Butterly (an activist who has spent a significant part of her time in Palestine) made a very moving plea to the female gardai present to look into their hearts on this Mothers day and themselves what they were doing by protecting this pit-stop for the US war machine. Tim and others explained to the people the harassment that they've continually experienced when they have simply been trying to document the planes that are using this airport. Another speaker asked the guards to raise their hands if they were in favour of the war. It appeared to all present then that they all opposed the war when they failed to react to the question.

Sit down

Songs were sung. Chants of shame were cried out. An Iraqi woman spoke of the many various kinds of people from different religions who were being slaughtered indiscriminately by the US. She also chanted the various names for God in Arabic. A small girl came up and said the following statement "I don't care what you guards say, This war is Wrong".

Myself and a friend were informed by the inspector that we were out of line when we strayed 10 yards to the left of the demonstration to have a look at the obstacles in our way. It's amazing to think of the arrogance and power that pervades - the force - since they've brought into being the public order act. It appears that they can and will try to tell you where you can stand on a public road.

Finally we had 4 women pall bearers slowly march up to the crash barriers and hand in the coffin for Irish neutrality. They refused to take it of course. As one speaker illustrated the last time martial law was enacted in Clare the black and tans we there. It now appears that Bertie imposes martial law around his precious refuelling dump for the UASF every time GNAW call for a protest there.

Cops refuse coffin

In a most apt moment three demonstrators sat on the road in front of the army of Guardai who had stared stoically at proceedings for over an hour without reaction and mimed the three monkeys. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. That appears to be the role of many people have adapted for themselves in regard to this war.

Three monkeys

We promised to be back and with a far bigger crowd of demonstrators. As much as they would like their compliant use of Shannon will not fade away. Especially when you see the pictures of fried corpses on the front pages of your daily newspapers and you know that the bomb that killed them could well have been flown though County Clare.

It was dark and late when we finally rolled into Dublin. The DJ on the radio was playing AC/DC 'If you want blood' and I thought perversely it was appropriate. Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair and Ahern have spilled the blood of innocent people. They've got that on their hands and it appears that's what they wanted all along. I for one can't see what else this war has achieved.

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