War planes for some, fun for others

THE Salthill Air Show, which takes place on June 24, is rapidly becoming an arms exhibition and military showcase.

Not only will the Eurofighter Typhoon warplane be seen for the first time in public outside of Britain, but the air show’s website informs potential exhibitors, “We only seek displays that have relevance to the air show; for example, military-related exhibitors.”

On top of that, the attendance of the US Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration squadron is a propaganda coup for Bush’s Iraq war. These Thunderbird pilots have already boasted in the media how, before becoming Thunderbirds, they all had combat experience over Iraq and some over Afghanistan. However, they don’t elaborate as to the number of “kills” they may have notched up or how many innocent men, women and children they may have killed.

No, we get the soft sell about the pilots’ Irish connections and the local media in Galway has given them the feminine touch, introducing us to Major Nicole Malachowski. No hard questions, please.

She wasn’t asked whether she fired any missiles that wiped out entire families. That would be impolite, considering the Salthill Air Show is family entertainment, co-sponsored by Fáilte Ireland and Galway City Council.

To complete the Iraq war connection with the show, there will be a reception for these “top guns” hosted by a man who also played his part in the occupation of Iraq, the US ambassador to Ireland Thomas Foley. Between August ’03 and March ’04, Mr Foley was part of the US administration running Iraq.

The show organisers continue to insist it is all good, clean fun. However, the Thunderbirds’ website states that the F16 fighter planes which will fly over Galway Bay can, within 72 hours, be ready for combat. So, on a Sunday, these warplanes can titillate punters and their children on Salthill’s promenade and by Thursday they can be killing families in Iraq or elsewhere.

The air show organisers would like to write off the Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) as a small bunch of spoilsport protesters, but the reality is different. Six city councillors have consistently opposed funding for the show and a survey commissioned by GAAW last winter showed that 46% of households in Salthill and Claddagh were opposed to the show either in its present militarised form or at all.

But it isn’t a question of numbers, it is a moral question. Do we lionise those who have invaded Iraq, who are the cause of more than 650,000 deaths, or do we stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and oppose these warmongers? Or, to put it another way, should the planes that kill other people’s children be considered fun for our children?

Niall Farrell

Galway Alliance Against War

Oranmore

Co Galway

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