IRELAND: Are Hellfire Missiles For Iraq Transported Through Shannon Airport?
first published on Shannonwatch.org 17 March 2014
A US Hercules C-130 photographed at Shannon last week
A report in The Guardian Newspaper on 16 March 2014 reveals that 100 Hellfire missiles were sent by the US Government to Iraq over the past few weeks. It is not known whether these weapons were transported through Shannon Airport, but we do know that several US Air Force Hercules C130 aircraft were refuelled at Shannon Airport during this period, and that none of these aircraft were searched by Gardai, or by the Irish army who were guarding these aircraft while they were at Shannon, in some cases overnight.
We also know that on 5 and 6 of September 2013, just five days after Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell held a protest on the runway at Shannon Airport, that an AC-130W Hercules turbo-prop aircraft, attached to the United States Air Force (USAF) 73rd Special Operations Squadron (SOS), landed at Shannon on Sept 5 and departed again the following day (see newspaper report). This aircraft had a 30mm modified MK-44 cannon located low on the front of the fuselage in front of the wings. Photographs taken at Shannon on Sept 6 clearly show this weapon. This weapon is also capable of firing depleted uranium munitions to enable it to penetrate armoured vehicles and reinforced bunkers. In accordance with standard practice, or malpractice, this aircraft was not searched by the Gardai as far as we are aware, even though they and Irish army personnel may well have spent the night of 5/6 September 2013 guarding it.
Questions need to be asked in the Dail and elsewhere as to why such aircraft are being allowed to transit through Shannon Airport without being searched. The Gardai should not operate on the basis of "assurances" from the US that they are not carrying weapons; they should inspect the aircraft and ensure that international law is upheld.
The very presence of the US military at Shannon Airport is a violation of Irish neutrality. Any weapons and munitions they are carrying are likely to be used to engage in military aggression and to fuel civil wars in Iraq and elsewhere.
Random searches of such aircraft, are not sufficient. All such aircraft landing at Shannon airport should be searched to ensure that they comply with Ireland's neutrality obligations. Of course no such aircraft have ever been searched at Shannon since 2001 - if they had been, and if no weapons were found, the government would have told us.