USE of Shannon Airport by the US military made Ireland a target for extremists, Deputy Clare Daly has said during a Dail debate on the legislation that merges the airport with Shannon Development.
Deputy Daly referred to the recent court case in Ennis at which anti-war activists Margaretta d’Arcy and Niall Farrell were charged with interfering with the proper use of the airport.
Defence expert Dr Tom Clonan, a witness for the defence, had made the point during the case that “he had met representatives of Hezbollah, who had remarked on the airport in County Clare and spoke of their disappointment with the Irish Government in that regard,” said Deputy Daily.
“What is going on there is not only wrong for the people of the Middle East; it is also exposing Irish citizens, at best, to hostile scrutiny and at worst, to danger by making them targets.”
“We can call Shannon Airport whatever we like. We can reconstitute it, as this bill does, but as long as it operates as a cog in the US war machine, it will never be a proper airport,” Deputy Daly went on to say.
In response, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said there were “no plans to change the current arrangements for the use of Shannon Airport by the US military which involve a long-standing practice in place for well over 50 years”.
Such traffic, he insisted, was subject to strict conditions, including that the aircraft be unarmed. US military traffic through Shannon was more often destined for bases in countries like Germany rather than “being part of what was referred to as an American imperialist scheme in the Middle East”. And military traffic through Shannon was in any case decreasing, the minister said, rejecting assertions that this business was shoring up passenger numbers at Shannon.
“I was somewhat confused when one deputy suggested Hezbollah was very disappointed by us. Neither I, the Government, my party, nor the country has ever really sought the approval of Hezbollah. Perhaps the deputy meant something else,” Minister Varadkar said of the Iranian backed militants.
Deputy Thomas Pringle, meanwhile, was another to object to the use of Shannon by the US military and urged the new management to end the practice seeing as the government did not appear to have “the guts to do it”.