Fresh Campaign Launched – Demilitarise Shannon Airport

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 38, Spring 2006

Within days of their acquittal of serious charges resulting from their non-violent resistance to the Iraqi war at Shannon Airport, members of the Pit Stop Ploughshares have called for a campaign to close the airport to all military use. Spearheaded by Australian Catholic Worker and peace activist Ciaron O’Reilly, the campaign will require 100 people who are committed to non-violence to resist American occupation of the military base in the west of Ireland and have it closed down.

Speaking from Dublin, O’Reilly said that within a few weeks the Catholic Worker and other anti-war groups in Ireland will hold a press conference setting a date by which the Irish government should demilitarise Shannon Airport. If the government continues to ignore the mass public opinion against the war and Irish participation in it and ignores the recent unanimous decision by the conscience of the community – the jury in the Ploughshares case – ‘we will close Shannon Airport entirely with non-violent resistance until it is demilitarised. We will act in the non-violent direct tradition of Mohandas Ghandi, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King.’

According to O’Reilly, ‘the CW proposal is already working. Shannnon Airport is already being demilitarised by the ploughshares action, acquittal and statement of intent. An unstoppable chain of events has been initiated which will see the demilitarisation of Shannon Airport and the cessation of its role as gas station/ pit stop for the U.S. war machine on its way to slaughter the innocents. As surely as the U.S. are losing militarily in Iraq, the ploughshares prophecy is winning at Shannon.’

The effect of the Pit Stop acquittal and the CW consideration of statement of intent to demilitarise Shannon Airport has already had effect in terms of deployment and reinforcement for the Israeli State’s slaughter in the Lebanon. According to the BBC website, ‘About 150 protestors demonstrated against refuelling of U.S. planes at Prestwick/Scotland recently. Two flights carrying hazardous material (bombs for Israel to drop on Lebanon) were diverted from Prestwick (civilian airport) to RAF Midenhall (military base) in Suffolk (England)’. This series of events followed the initial diversion of Israeli bomb-carrying U.S. flights from Shannon Airport, their original destination for refuelling. Ciaron O’Reilly says that the redirection in Scotland after the redirection from Shannon, ‘indicates that the periphery is vulnerable in the war effort. This may explain why more media debate on the war is permitted in the centre (England and the U.S.) and the censorship is so heavy in the periphery (Ireland and Australia). Debate is censored and coverage of anti-war activity trivialised in Ireland because it is so vulnerable to the possibility of going the way of Spain and Italy and withdrawing troops.’

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