A new website www.shannonwatch.org has just been launched to provide information on war-related traffic and rendition flights through Shannon Airport. The website, which is an initiative of local anti-war and human rights activists in the Shannon area, will provide monthly statistics on all US Air Force aircraft that land at the airport as well as details on airlines carrying US troops. It will also provide landing details of planes known to be used by the CIA for illegal prisoner renditions.
Shannon airport and Irish airspace continue to be used on a daily basis by US warplanes. This is with the permission of the Irish Government – but not of the Irish people – and is in contravention of Ireland’s stated neutrality. Furthermore it makes Shannon and Ireland complicit in the suffering of millions of innocent people. In Iraq, where most of the troops passing through Shannon are heading to or from, the situation is quite desperate now. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 4.7 million people have been displaced since the US-led invasion in March 2003. This and the killing of over 650 innocent Iraqi children in 2007 (see www.iraqbodycount.org) reveals something of the tragedy that has become the business of Shannon airport . But even this is not the full story; the violence during the illegal US occupation has touched the lives of countless people, including many who have been the victims of kidnapping, torture and rape.
The new ShannonWatch.org website documents the shameful part played by a "civilian" Irish airport in this suffering. It shows that in November 2008, for example, at least 71 airplanes each carrying hundreds of US soldiers stopped at Shannon. So did nine US Air Force planes, including a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft which is the main tactical airlifter for military forces worldwide.
ShannonWatch.org also monitors and documents the movement of known CIA rendition planes through Shannon airport. One recent log, for example, shows that on 25th October 2008, a Gulfstream G-IV jet with the registration N478GS landed there. Despite the fact that reports published by the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International have confirmed this jet to to be involved in rendition activities, it was not searched by an Garda Siochana.
The new website provides live landings data from August 2008 onwards, as well as links to archived material going back to before the US-led invasion of Iraq. It also documents military and US airlift traffic through Irish airspace, as foreign military aircraft require the permission of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to over fly as well as to land in the state.
ShannonWatch.org is not intended to replace any of the existing mechanisms used to publish information on anti-war activities in Ireland. Its main purpose is as an information source on military flights through Shannon, but it will also be used to highlight events and campaigns at or around the airport. This includes details of the monthly vigils that continue to be held there on the second Sunday of every month from 2 to 3pm.
To contact ShannonWatch.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org.