US war planes have also been allowed to use Shannon as a training base. During the 1991 Gulf War there were lots of B52 bombers seen at Shannon, en route to raining down death on Iraq from 30,000 feet.
We don't know exactly what is being ferried through Shannon as Customs do no inspect military planes. It may well be that the prisoners taken during the Afghan war and held in appalling conditions at Gutanomo bay were ferried through Ireland. We don't know what sorts of weapons are being carried on these planes, although a common visitor is the C-130 Hercules which is used to drop the 15,000 'daisy cutter' bomb.
We do know that the Irish government is lying about the use of Shannon. At the time of the Afghan war they claimed that the US troops flying through Shannon were returning home from bases in Germany. Yet protesters at Shannon witnessed hundreds of marines in Desert camouflage gear. We now that at one point last year a "cargo aircraft landed at Shannon after a report of "smoke in the cabin". When 15 emergency vehicles arrived they were met by armed US Military personnel". We don't know what that plane was carrying or why armed US military personnel were required to keep emergency crews away.
The little we do know is due to the diligent work of a small number of anti-war activists, in particular Tim Hourigan. So we know that planes using Shannon have included C-130 Hercules, F-16s, Galaxy C-5 transporters and the like. We do know that the state security services are doing all in their power to prevent such monitoring, observers have been repeatedly ordered to leave the airport.
Tim reports one such incident from 31 Oct 2002 "two of the war monitors at Shannon today came face to face with a group of US military personnel in the arrivals hall at Shannon airport. One monitor asked a simple question and both were ordered out of the terminal, at the behest of an anonymous special agent. Two inspectors, two Garda and several security personnel made sure we left the premises."
The time has come to move beyond talking about the militarisation of southern Ireland and to act against it. Inside you will find reports of the actions that have already taken place.
This edition is No73 published in November 2002