Renewed calls to stop letting US troops use Shannon Airport

US military use of Irish airport denounced in light of events in Afghanistan and Ireland's position on UN Security Council
Renewed calls to stop letting US troops use Shannon Airport

An Omni Air International flight arriving at Shannon from Eindhoven in The Netherlands in March 2020. US military personnel transiting Shannon were instructed not to get off their aircraft after landing at the airport. Picture: Press 22

Calls have been renewed to end the use of Shannon Airport by US troops in light of the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.

The airport has been used as a stopover and fuelling stop for US military for nearly 20 years, with tens of thousands of troops transitting through yearly. Last year, around 75,000 troops used the airport. In 2019, in the full year, the figure was 93,852 and, in 2018, it was 86,653.

in June, Department of Foreign Affairs officials told the Public Accounts Committee that there was no cost to hosting the flights.

UN Security Council role

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said that the use of Shannon has little public support and that Ireland could not contribute to situations such as that in Afghanistan at the same time as sitting on the UN Security Council.

A US Hercules transporter plane at Shannon Airport in January 2003 during the buildup to the Gulf War in 2003. Activists and public representatives have renewed their calls for an end to the use of the airport by US military flights. Picture: John Cogill/AP
A US Hercules transporter plane at Shannon Airport in January 2003 during the buildup to the Gulf War in 2003. Activists and public representatives have renewed their calls for an end to the use of the airport by US military flights. Picture: John Cogill/AP

“The last thing that we can be doing is participating in providing a safe space to land as the US abandons Afghanistan, so I reiterate the call to end the use of Shannon,” said Ms Smith.

Flights are 'the shame of Shannon' 

Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, said that the flights were “the shame of Shannon”.

“Irish governments have turned a blind eye to the practice of rendition, the transferring of prisoners to so-called third countries for interrogation and torture, a clear breach of our human rights law,” said Ms Wynne.

“They have always been happy to accept US ‘assurances’ that its military planes are unarmed and carry no arms, ammunition, or explosives. Those assurances never held weight but were never challenged,” she said.

"The human cost and instability of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 20 years will last for generations. 

The horrific scenes and escalating humanitarian crises we are now witnessing are yet more examples of that. 

"It is a horrific situation and highlights that it is high time that Irish governments stopped facilitating these reckless foreign invasions, and ended the shame of Shannon, an Irish civilian airport, being used by the US military.

“We want our airport, and our respect as a neutral country, back,” she said. 

The activist group Shannonwatch, which tracks US planes coming in to and out of the airport, reported last week that some of the world’s largest cargo planes had landed in Ireland en route to Afghanistan. The group said that Ireland was helping the US to “repatriate the military equipment that destroyed” Afghanistan.

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