SINCE IT’S now out in the open that Ireland’s Defence Forces personnel are providing weapons training to the Ukrainian army and that our National Cyber Security Centre is working with the Ukrainian government, it should come as no surprise that Shannon Airport and Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel are playing a crucial role in the logistics of the US supplying Ukraine in what has become a proxy war.
On September 6 an Omni Air International plane passed through Shannon on the way to Poznan in Poland. The US has more than 10,000 soldiers stationed in Poland and the airport is a key hub for the movement of munitions and equipment to Ukraine.
Two days earlier an Omni Air N468AX landed in Shannon. It was returning to Colorado Springs having made deliveries to Nuremberg, Wroclow, Vilnius and Riga.
These are not isolated cases. The US military has been using the airports regularly since 2002 and Irish governments over these two decades have signed off on the US military using Irish air space and facilities to prosecute wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen etc. Now the US is the largest donor of military aid to Ukraine and, between January 2022 and May 2023, the US government committed to supply Ukraine with $46.56bn worth of arms and equipment.
In 2002 there was a vibrant anti-war movement in Ireland and the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets were backed by politicians from Sinn Féin, the Green Party and the various Trotskyist factions. Today the issue of Shannon barely gets mentioned. The Green Party is now in Government and signing off on Ireland’s complicity in US military adventures.
In July SF issued its submission – Neutrality: A Cornerstone of Irish Foreign Policy – to the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy. There is no mention of the US military’s use of Shannon Airport in the submission. In its introduction, SF spokesperson on foreign affairs and defence Matt Carthy did note: “The presence of protests at each of the hearings underlines a deep distrust on the part of a significant cohort of the Irish public as to the government’s objectives in establishing the Forum.”
This same ‘significant cohort’ will wonder why now, after two decades, the call for ending the US military’s use of Shannon, which has been central to all SF proposals on defence and security policy, appears to have been dropped.