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More than 1,000 airplanes carrying weapons allowed into Ireland since 2014

One TD says Ireland is helping weapons fall into the hands of ISIS.

wallacedaly TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace attempting to inspect an airplane at Shannon Airport last year, before their arrest. Source: Ed Horgan/Shannonwatch

Updated at 22:57pm

NEW FIGURES RELEASED by the Department of Transport this week show that Ireland has allowed 1,122 civilian planes carrying weapons to land on our territory or fly over our airspace, since the beginning of 2014.

Some 538 of those flights took place this year.

Furthermore, the overwhelming majority (96%) of requests by civilian airlines to carry weapons into Ireland, were granted by the Department.

In response to a Freedom of Information request from the activist group Shannonwatch, the Department of Transport revealed that, in 2014:

  • 606 requests were made
  • 584 were granted (96%)
  • 307 planes carrying weapons were allowed to land in Ireland
  • 288 were allowed to fly through Irish airspace
  • 290 landings involved Shannon Airport, 17 involved Dublin Airport
  • In 22 cases, permission was refused

In a statement this afternoon, John Lannon of Shannonwatch called the figures “alarming.”

The information provided by the Department shows the alarming level of support that Ireland is giving to US military operations overseas.
Over 550 permits were granted to airlines carrying troops, weapons and explosives to their forward operating bases. There would seem to be an overwhelming bias towards facilitating flights from the US and other NATO countries.
How can our government claim we are in any way neutral when this is happening?

Guidelines for Setting and Managing Speed Limits - Dublin Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe Source: PA WIRE

And in the Dáil today, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe told Independent TD Clare Daly that, from January to September 2015:

  • 566 requests were made
  • 538 were granted (95%)
  • 193 planes carrying weapons were allowed to land in Ireland
  • 345 were allowed to fly through Irish airspace
  • 188 landings involved Shannon Airport, 5 involved Dublin Airport
  • 39,613 US troops have passed through Shannon Airport in 2015

Donohoe said the 28 refusals this year were “on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

Under the terms of the 1973 Air Navigation Order (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods), airlines apply for permission to carry weapons, 48 hours before each individual flight.

Donohoe was unable to clarify whether the Department of Foreign Affairs is consulted before permission is granted or refused in each case, but told Daly:

All the decisions my Department takes in this area are with the active consultation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and are consistent with the foreign policy objectives of our country.

Deputy Daly raised the spectre of Ireland facilitating weapons falling into the hands of the Islamic State group (ISIS), given the heavy proportion of flights involving the US military.

…Between the USA and Afghanistan, 190 tonnes of ammunition and bullets passed over and through Shannon, probably destined for the Afghan army.
As members are aware from Iraq, it often ends up in the hands of the opponents, in this case the Taliban and ISIS.

In response to its FOI request, Shannonwatch has acquired an unusually detailed list of every request made to the Department of Transport in 2014 to carry weapons through Ireland.

The list contains information on each flight’s point of origin, destination, the airlines involved, and the types of weapons and ammunition on board.

Shannonwatch has highlighted certain flights as being of particular concern, with former Irish Army Commandant Edward Horgan stating:

The FOI documents show that on six particular flights the amount of small arms ammunition, which is bullets, sent from the USA to Afghanistan in 2014, amount to almost 420,000 lbs weight, which is about 190 metric tons.
We are led to believe that these flights were approved to fly through Irish airspace by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

First published at 3:24pm

Read: Department of Foreign Affairs: Shannon Airport was not used to facilitate torture>

Read: Charlie Flanagan apologises and says this US military plane DID land in Shannon>

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Dan MacGuill

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