22 January 2018
Shannonwatch strongly condemns the facilitation of a meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and US troops at Shannon Airport on Saturdaylast. The use of the airport by foreign troops on their way to a war zone is in breach of Irish neutrality, and the decision to hold a public display of support for a foreign leader promoting war on Irish soil is dangerous and unwelcome.
“Having diplomats and senior politicians transiting though Irish airports is not a normally a problem” said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. “But when they publicly insult Irish sovereignty by addressing troops on their way to war zones, it is unacceptable. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld addressed US troops at Shannon in February 2004, and US President GW Bush did the same in March 2006 without any protest by the Irish Government. The latest offender, US Vice President Pence, addressed US troops at Shannon last Saturday, again without a word of protest from the Irish government. Have they forgotten that we are an independent sovereign state, and not the 51st state of America?
“Despite Leo Varadkar’s support for Irish neutrality he appears to have no interest in upholding it” added John Lannon also of Shannonwatch. “He was in Shannon at almost the same time as US Vive President Pence. Yet he failed to condemn this alarming breach of our neutrality”.
US troops transiting through Shannon are in breach of international laws on neutrality, and the armed aggression being waged by the US in Syria is in breach of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter which states that all member states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. On January 17th the New York Times reported comments from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggesting that US commitments to Syria included Syrian President Assad’s departure from power, as well as US military support for Syrian Kurdish rebel forces. Both of these are in breach of the UN Charter.
“The UN Secretary General and Security Council have been silent on US breaches of the UN Charter in Syria, and on the Turkish military invasion of northern Syria” said Edward Horgan. “The silence and inaction of our Irish Government in these matters is also arguably in breach of Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Article 29 of Bunreacht na hÉireann”.
US Vice President Pence has long been a supporter of US policy that in recent months led to the designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to the curtailment of aid for Palestinians. As he passed through Shannon he was one his way to Israel, which is a major recipient of military aid from the US.
“The decision to allow Mike Pence to address troops at Shannon, by whoever made it, is tantamount to accepting the arming of one of the biggest threats to peace in the Middle East, Israel.” said John Lannon. “This is not something we, the Irish people should be associated with.”
Independent polls have consistently shown that Irish people do not support participation in war, nor do they agree with the US military use of Shannon Airport. Most recently a 2016 Red C Poll has shown that 6 out of 10 Irish people want neutrality to be enshrined in the Constitution.
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