Shannon airport controversy grows
Shannon airport controversy grows

A leading Islamic cleric has warned that Ireland could be attacked unless the use of Shannon Airport as a stop-over for US troops is ended.

Anjem Choudary, the leader of Al Muhajiroun in Britain, made the comments before a debate at Trinity College amid increasing controversy in Ireland over the Dublin government’s support for the war in Iraq.

Choudary said it was not his personal view but groups such as al-Qaeda may consider that Ireland was a target.

“If you allow Shannon to be used that is not a position of neutrality. It is part of waging this type of carnage in Iraq. So they would see the Irish as collaborators and are not going to distinguish.”

He said the citizens of Ireland should change this so what happened in London could be avoided. He did not want such events to happen again and it was not something that he wanted to see occur, he said.

Shannon has been used as a transitory point for a plane operated by the CIA, which is believed to shuttle prisoners to secret detention centres in eastern Europe and Guantanamo Bay.

Labour’s foreign Affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins has called for random checks that people being brought through Irish airports are not at risk of torture He said Ireland was obliged to do so under three conventions against torture.

“The Minister has relied on assurances from the US, but the UN Committee against Torture regards a simple assurance as insufficient,” he told the DAil.

He said that “sometimes it is necessary to be frank in friendly relations with another country”, urging random checks of military aircraft travelling through Shannon.

Meanwhile, a jury involved in the case of five anti-war protesters accused of sabotaging a US warcraft at Shannon was dramatically discharged this week.

It marked the second time a case against the five has collapsed this year at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

The jury was stood down after a defence counsel for the ‘Shannon Five’ asked Judge Donagh McDonagh whether, while a barrister in the 1990s, he had attended a conference in Texas which involved a photocall with then governor George Bush.

Legal representatives for the five defendants also pointed out that Mr McDonagh attended George Bush’s presidential inauguration in 2000 and was invited to his second installation ceremony in 2004.

Speaking at a press conference in support of the ‘Shannon 5’, Sinn Féin’s Aengus O Snodaigh TD expressed, on behalf of Sinn Féin, solidarity with the 5 men in demanding that the criminal charges against them be dropped.

Mr O Snodaigh pointed out that hundreds of US soldiers dressed in full military uniform had recently been photographed at Shannon in contravention of agreements.

“I would remind the Irish people that the accused are tax-payers and that Irish taxes are subsidising the overflights of the US military on their way to and from Iraq to the tune of over 10 million euro over the last 5 years and 3.6million last year alone.

“Jimmy Massey, a US marine and veteran of the Iraq war, while speaking in Ireland last week acknowledged that the US military are committing war crimes and breaching international law in Iraq and Irish taxes are paying for the trial on criminal charges of 5 individuals who simply and bravely sought to prevent this.”

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