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To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will consider ordering inspections of United States military aircraft passing through Shannon Airport in order to ensure that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, do not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operations en route to Syria or elsewhere.

- Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 26th June, 2013.

REPLY

The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952 gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland. In this context, permission for foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports is given only on condition that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and do not engage in intelligence gathering and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operations. These conditions apply fully to US aircraft.

In accordance with international practice, state aircraft passing through Ireland with the permission of the Government are not subject to search or inspection.

Furthermore, the carriage of weapons through Shannon Airport on commercial aircraft is prohibited under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order, 1973, adopted under the provisions of the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1946, unless an exemption has been obtained by the commercial carrier from my colleague, the Minister for Transport. Before issuing such an exemption, the Department of Transport seeks the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to any foreign policy issues which may arise.

In relation to the provision of arms to Syria, my views on this subject are well known and have regularly been stated in this House.  I do not believe that the provision of further arms will assist ongoing efforts to achieve a political resolution.

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