Request for transit of warhead rockets through Shannon Airport was rejected

Documentation obtained by the Limerick Leader shows special exemption was sought

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Request for transit of warhead rockets through Shannon Airport was rejected

Shannon Airport: A request to transport rockets was refused

AN APPLICATION to transport five warhead rockets via Shannon Airport was refused by the Department of Transport this May.

Documentation obtained by the Limerick Leader shows that the Ukraine Air Alliance sought a special exemption to transport the rockets from Turkey to the United States this May 5.

Figures provided by the department show that a total of 6,761 permits for munitions of war were granted for flights travelling through Irish airspace from 2010 up to this May, including 377 exemptions to date this year.

Sixteen applications have been refused given the nature of the weapons, including in one case the personal weapons of troops on a flight from the US to Qatar, which was due to land at Shannon.

A total of 135 flights with personal weapons on troops on board landed at Shannon Airport up to this May, while only five exemptions were sought to transport weapons via Dublin Airport.

Forty-six flights carried weapons, largely the personal weapons of troops, en route to Kuwait, while others were destined for Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Turkey and Qatar.

There have been repeated concerns raised about Ireland’s neutrality given the use of Shannon Airport, in particular, as a stop-over for the US military.

However, senior gardai in Limerick said they have “no intelligence whatsoever” to suggest it is at risk as a terrorist target.

John Lannon, of the group Shannonwatch, which monitors the use of Shannon by foreign military, said the refusal of some permits is to be welcomed, but said it has to be questioned “what is being transported on the hundreds of planes that aren’t being inspected?”

“Shannon Airport was always meant to be a civilian airport; it was not designed as a military base. It is now a major security risk for the airport and the entire region. We need to stop Ireland's involvement in the ongoing carnage across the Middle East,” Mr Lannon told the Limerick Leader.

Other applications to transport class one explosives and bombs on a number of flights through Irish airspace from the United States to Germany and the United Arab Emirates were also refused.

That applicant, Atlas Air Inc, a global airfreight company with military customers, made a total of 216 applications this year.

Aer Lingus also made several applications to transport glock pistols, ammunition, Sig Sauer pistols and carbine pistols, which were all granted by the department.

The Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 provides that no munitions or weapons of war may be carried by an aircraft in Irish airspace – without an exemption granted under the order.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said that he “recently decided” that his department should conduct an internal review of this Order, given the changes to international law in the past 44 years.