The Dublin government has been accused of turning the west of Ireland into a US military hub after it emerged that highly weaponised warplanes have been landing and refuelling at Shannon Airport on their way to and from conflicts in the Middle East.
A parliamentary question confirmed this week that at least one armed US warplane landed at Shannon. A photograph of the plane carrying fixed weapons (missiles) emerged on the internet this week.
It is understood the incident was noticed by 26-County Army personnel on September 5th. The US military dismissed the matter as a one-off event n “administrative error”.
The Galway Alliance against War (GAAW) argues that it shows that the US military sees Shannon as just another US military base.
“And why wouldn’t they?” they said in a statement. “For the past 12 years Washington has flown millions of troops through Shannon and thousands of military transport planes”.
CIA ‘rendition’ flights have freely travelled to war zones via the County Clare airport, they added.
“None of these planes have ever been searched, nor would they be searched at any normal US military airport.”
The recent sighting was of an AC-130W, an attack version of one of the most regular sighted US military transport planes in Shannon, the Hercules C130. The AC-130W are normally equipped with laser-guided bombs but can also carry ‘Hellfire’ missiles or unmanned aerial attack planes (‘drones’).
GAAW also said that one US air contractor had recently admitted to having a licence to transport weapons of mass destruction, including depleted uranium, via Ireland, and that had been taking place since at least 2008.
“Because consecutive Irish governments have refused to search US military flights Washington can send whatever they wish through Shannon, including kidnapped prisoners and deadly weaponry,” they said. “It is time to close this US military hub.”
SHELL PERMISSION DENIED
There was good news for progressives in the west of Ireland this week when a County Mayo resident successfully overturned an environmental license awarded to the controversial Shell Corrib gas pipeline project.
On Tuesday, the Commercial Court granted an order quashing the revised EPA licence issued for the onshore gas terminal at Ballinaboy.
In his judicial review challenge, Mr Harrington successfully pointed out that the EPA, the State’s supposedly independent Environmental Protection Agency, had failed to carry out the appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before issuing the licence.
In a statement, the ‘Shell to Sea’ environmental campaign group said it was “delighted that that the EPA decision to grant this licence is now shown to be illegal” and accused the statutory body of “gross incompetence if not indeed negligence”.