Ireland: Hundreds protest over US warplanes using Shannon Airport

Anger at ‘neutral’ Irish government’s complicity in Iraq occupation

Last Saturday, saw a protest take place in Shannon Airport against the continuing occupation of Iraq and the Irish government’s active support for it.

The airport has been used for the past three years for refueling by US warplanes. Over 500,000 US troops have used the airport on their way to and from Iraq. Another real indication of the Irish government’s complicity in the war is the fact it spends €10,000, every day, subsidising the US government to use the airport. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bush’s envoy to Ireland, Richard Hass, stated that Shannon is crucial to US operations in Iraq and would be difficult to replace.

Over 400 participated in the protest. Although the numbers on the protest were down compared to previous anti-war demonstrations, there were a considerable number of young people from Shannon town itself on the march. Undoubtedly, the presence of the US military machine on their doorstep has had a massive effect on their political outlook.

Socialist Youth and Socialist Party members from across Ireland participated on the protest. We had the most youthful contingent on it, with lively chants. We were the only group on the protest to point out that the link between the capitalist system and the war in Iraq, along with arguing for a socialist alternative to both.

Socialist Youth organised a bus that came from Dublin, with mainly young people on it. Members from SY and SP also came on buses from Belfast, Cork and Limerick, and leafleted schools to get people on them. In one case, this resulted in a Socialist Youth member in Limerick being ‘disciplined’ by the school authorities for actively opposing the war in his school. However, the school authorities were forced to back down after we organised a letter writing campaign in protest.

Roisin, 18 years old, told an SP member, “It was a great. Straying into politics for the first time, socialism is starting to look appealing”

James, 21, said. “I am against the use of Shannon, a civilian airport as a US army base. As a result Ireland has become a terrorist target”.

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September 2005