Gardaí presented with 'rendition' flight dossiers

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0319/1224292610221.html

Gardaí presented with 'rendition' flight dossiers

 

GORDON DEEGAN

ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS dressed in orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits yesterday delivered two wheelbarrows of dossiers to Shannon gardaí containing what they claim is evidence of 20 suspected “rendition” flights using Shannon airport.

Member of “Shannonwatch” Dr Ed Horgan was one of those to deliver the documentation to gardaí at Shannon Garda station’s public office.

Along with Shannonwatch, Amnesty International, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Afri and the Irish Anti-War Movement were represented in presenting the evidence.

Speaking before delivering the documentation, Dr Horgan said: “What is happening here at Shannon airport is that we are complicit in the killing of innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere.” He said: “We are not a group of trouble-makers or law-breakers. We are people that want Irish and international law enforced.”

His colleague in Shannonwatch John Lannon said: “Currently, there are 500-600 US troops going through Shannon each day.”

Yesterday’s press briefing in Shannon follows President Barack Obama in the White House on St Patrick’s Day thanking Taoiseach Enda Kenny “for the operations at Shannon that are so vital for us moving our troops”.

Last December, WikiLeaks released a US diplomatic cable revealing that former minister for foreign affairs Dermot Ahern in 2007 “seemed quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refuelled at Shannon airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere”.

An estimated two million US troops have passed through Shannon in the past decade and the information presented to the gardaí yesterday includes a list of aircraft that have at one time or another been linked to the US renditions programme. These include 20 that have been recorded at Shannon over the last eight years.

Board member of Amnesty International in Ireland Dr Ray Murphy said that the new Government must live up to its commitment contained in the programme for government that promises “to enforce the prohibition of the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the requirements of international law”.

Dr Horgan said that the presentation of the evidence “is initiating the process of holding the Government to account on that particular sentence”.

Mr Lannon said: “A lot of the information is already in the public domain. The gardaí were either unaware of it or ignoring it. Now we have presented it to them. We do hope that this will be taken seriously and that action will be taken.” Mr Lannon said that gardaí at Shannon had told him that they would review the documentation.

Dr Murphy said there was substantial evidence to suggest that Ireland had played a role in the rendition circuit, but that to date gardaí had been either unwilling or unable to conduct searches and inspections.

He said: “What we need is an effective, verifiable, inspection regime put in place immediately to stop these flights.” Former United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday was also in Shannon and said: “Irish people do not want to make a living on the backs of dead Iraqis, dead Afghanis and dead Pakistanis. That is not the way we do business. We all want to make a living, but that is a price no Irish person is willing to pay.”

Mr Halliday said that Irish people did not want to facilitate the easy access of US troops through Shannon to support atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.