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Dáil Diary no 33- 21 April 2015

Migrants drown in the Mediterranean- While Arms and Munitions continue to flow through Shannon…

The world is shocked at the news of thousands of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. At present, there are over 33 million people displaced because of War and Conflict – The Militarisation of many parts of the world, predominately by the US Military, is causing untold misery and destruction. Promoting the Arms Industry has become part of the raison d’etre of President Obama – And sadly, the Irish Government is complicit by allowing US Arms and Munitions through Shannon. Arms and Munitions that cause people to flee their homeland in search of a peaceful life…
Here’s my question re Shannon with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan – complete with interruptions from the Chair by Deputy Durkan, who was eager to prevent me from having my say. Independent how are ye…

“My question relates to two planes which landed at Shannon on 11 March. It was unplanned by the sound of it. I do not know how the Government can believe they were not carrying weapons or munitions. The idea that they were not engaged in military operations or exercises, which are in breach of Irish neutrality, is beyond belief. How in God's name can the Minister still hold that we have a policy of neutrality when we allow such things to happen?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: I can confirm that permission was granted by my Department for the landing of these two aircraft at Shannon Airport subject to the strict conditions which apply to all foreign military aircraft. These include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations. In seeking requests to my Department in respect of these aircraft, the United States Embassy indicated that the purpose of the landings was for crew rest. My Department has not received any information from An Garda Síochána in relation to these aircraft. Any questions relating to Garda matters should be directed to my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality

Deputy Mick Wallace:   The two airplanes in question were Hercules planes. One was numbered BD 5379 and is a US Navy Lockheed C-130 warplane operated by a VR-64 Condors' Fleet logistics support squadron from McGuire AFB. They are part of a team that is entrusted to safely execute effective, responsive C-130 Hercules air logistics missions in direct support of fleet and combatant commanders worldwide. These planes are engaged in military activity. Only this week, Dr. Edward Horgan, who was trying to get a flight from Shannon to London, saw four military planes parked on the runway at Shannon. There were as many military planes in the airport as there were civilian. This is supposed to be a civilian airport.

Dr Edward Horgan was arrested for trying to inspect the US Military Planes – something which the Irish Government refuse to do.

When is the Government going to stop deceiving the public that we are not facilitating US military ambitions by allowing our airport to be used for military purposes? It was bad enough that the previous Government did it but this Government is supposed to be the party of law and order. Why can it not call the truth and admit that it has a supportive role in the US military position?
Deputy Charles Flanagan:     The issue of the apparent deception of the public is a recurring theme in respect of Question Time and Deputy Wallace. Could I make

it clear to him that there is no question of deceiving the public? Deputy Wallace will be completely familiar with the arrangements for authorising the landing of US military aircraft at Irish airports, namely, the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order of 1952 and related arrangements. These arrangements apply to all foreign military aircraft, including US aircraft landing at Shannon. Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality involves non-participation in any military alliance.

Ireland has not entered into any military alliance with the US or any other country or organisation.
The use of Shannon Airport by the US military is a long-standing practice and has been in place for over 50 years. Permitting the use of Shannon by the US military does not challenge or undermine Ireland's policy of military neutrality nor does it deceive anybody. The regulations are quite clear.

Deputy Mick Wallace:     I beg to differ. In reply to Question No. 657 tabled recently by Deputy Clare Daly, the Minister said:
The US is granted blanket permission for overflights by unarmed military aircraft. The US Embassy provides my Department with post hoc monthly statistical returns on the total number of overflights by such aircraft. Its return for February 2015 states that there were 48 such overflights by transport, passenger and refuelling aircraft.

How in God's name can the Minister say that there are no arms or munitions on these planes going through our airspace? What are US assurances worth given the terrorist activities of that country and the torture programme it ran, which we facilitated by allowing rendition flights through Shannon?

  Deputy Clare Daly and I are due back in court in Ennis tomorrow because we tried to inspect planes, something the Government refuses to allow the Defence Forces or gardaí to do. We are trying to keep the peace, not break it. We oppose war. The Government is supporting war and the arms industry. A total of 33.5 million people have been displaced because of conflict. This is why we have the trouble in the Mediterranean.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     The Deputy is out of time.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     I ask the Deputy to resume his seat and let the Minister reply. Deputy Wallace is out of order.

Deputy Charles Flanagan:     Deputy Wallace is confusing the matter of overflight with that of inspection of military aircraft. Indeed, he will be aware that-----

Deputy Mick Wallace:     They are both issues.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     The Minister to reply.

Deputy Charles Flanagan:     Deputy Wallace will be aware-----

Deputy Mick Wallace:     The Chair is one-sided.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     The Deputy will withdraw that remark.

Deputy Mick Wallace:     It is blatant.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     The Deputy must withdraw that remark or I will adjourn the House.

Deputy Mick Wallace:     The Acting Chairman can do so if he wishes.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     I am sorry; it is not the Deputy's prerogative to disrupt this House. We have heard those allegations before.

Deputy Mick Wallace:     I am not disrupting the House, the Acting Chairman is doing so.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan):     I propose to report the matter to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle…

Mick Wallace.

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