Gardai probe attack on troop carrier at Shannon Airport

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

ONLY minor damage was caused to an aircraft leased to the American military which was vandalised in an attack at Shannon Airport last week.

ONLY minor damage was caused to an aircraft leased to the American military which was vandalised in an attack at Shannon Airport last week.

The security breach, which is being investigated by Shannon gardai, will alarm US officials who were assured security had been stepped up in the wake of an attack in 2003 in which over $2 million of damage was caused to a military plane.

Two small holes were found in the perimeter fence at Shannon following last week’s attack.

“Shannon Airport can confirm that there was an incident involving a aircraft parked on a remote stand. A Garda investigation is underway into the matter and airport authorities are co-operating fully with that investigation,” said an airport spokesman.

It is understood that the plane targeted last week - a DC10 operated by Omni Air International - was not in active use and was only on standby in case another troop carrier had mechanical problems.

A hydraulic pipe was severed during the attack and has since been repaired. The attackers also spray-painted the words “US Troops Out” on the side of the plane.

The incident has echoes of the attack on a US Navy jet in 2003 by the Pitstop Ploughshares, an anti-war group protesting against US military presence in Shannon.

Five people were charged with causing criminal damage to that aircraft but argued in court that they believed they were saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by disabling the plane. All five were acquitted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2006.

That verdict alarmed the US government and documents released by Wikileaks last year revealed that the former American ambassador James Kenny had written to the State Department suggesting compensation could be sought from the Irish government.

Mr Kenny wrote that one of the Department of Foreign Affairs top officials had described the verdict as “bizarre” and politicians had also criticised the judgment.

“Willie O’Dea and governing Fianna Fail party politicians have publicly questioned the legal merits of the Shannon Five jury decision, “ Mr Kenny wrote in September 2006.