State at risk due to US use of Shannon Airport, warns security analyst

Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly outside the airport last summer. Picture: Press 22
THE USE of Shannon Airport is intrinsic to the US military’s global war on terror and the State is now seen as a hostile party by Islamic extremist groups, a court has heard.

THE USE of Shannon Airport is intrinsic to the US military’s global war on terror and the State is now seen as a hostile party by Islamic extremist groups, a court has heard.

Security analyst Tom Clonan was giving evidence in Ennis District Court this week, during the case of Dail deputies Clare Daly, 46, and Mick Wallace, 59, in relation to their alleged illegal entrance into a restricted area of Shannon airport on July 22.

“If Shannon was being used by any other group to cause the type of damage that the 2.25m US troops that have passed through Shannon have caused, then the US would rightly identify it as a target,” Mr Clonan said.

He said Shannon was a virtual forward airbase of US military and that the millions of troops who have passed through Shannon since 2002 make it the largest invading force to have ever passed through Ireland.

“Irish citizens are perceived now as a hostile party by Islamic resistance groups,” he added.

Patrick O’Toole, who worked in Shannon for a year in 2003 refilling catering trolleys on aircraft, said some US military flights were treated differently than others. “We called them rendition flight planes. They always landed at night-time,” he said.

Mr O’Toole told the court he counted up to 14 planes landing at Shannon which were distinct from planes carrying troops or weapons and routinely parked in an isolated area of the airport.

Representing himself, Mr Wallace told the court the reason they entered the airport airfield was to search the military planes, because they were not being searched by the Irish authorities.

After gardaí presented the rope ladder that Ms Daly and Mr Wallace used to scale the airport fence, Mr Wallace asked Judge Patrick Durcan: “Can I have my rope ladder back?” Judge Durcan replied that the issue could be dealt later in the case.

Airport police officer Declan Vaughan told the court that when he came across Mr Wallace and Ms Daly inside the perimeter fence on July 22, Mr Wallace requested the assistance of the Irish army to inspect a US military plane nearby. Two US military planes were on the runway nearby.

Sgt Donal O’Rourke said Ms Daly cut her lip and two fingers when coming over the airport perimeter fence.

Judge Durcan adjourned the case to March 10.