The Galway Alliance Against War will hold its annual general meeting on Wednesday February 3 at 8pm in Richardson’s, Eyre Square.
The guest speaker at the event will be John Lannon of Shannonwatch, the peace group which monitors the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.
According to Mr Lannon, a total of 1,276 civilian flights were granted permits to carry weapons and munitions through Ireland in 2009. The vast majority of these were from American civil airlines, chartered by the US military, and involved flights to or from the United States. Almost all landed at Shannon Airport.
This information came to light following a question from Galway West TD Michael D Higgins to the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.
Minister Dempsey said that approximately 90 per cent of the flights that requested permission to carry weapons or munitions were for the troops’ personal weapons.
The remaining 10 per cent (some 120 aircraft ) were allowed to take other military equipment through Ireland. The Minister did not say how many of these landed at Shannon or how many overflew the country.
“Shannonwatch is gravely concerned that there are more than three flights a day taking lethal weapons and other munitions through Shannon,” said Mr Lannon. “Not only are the weapons being used to cause civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, they also present a grave risk to the safety of people working or visiting the airport. Shannon was designed as a civilian airport, not the military air base it has now become.”