272 planes carried weapons or explosives through Shannon last year

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US military aircraft at Shannon airport.
US military aircraft at Shannon airport

FIGURES from the Department of Transport have revealed that 272 flights were given permits to carry weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport in 2014.

In response to a Freedom of Information request from human rights group Shannonwatch, the Department confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East.

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The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace.

The majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.

The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order.

Close to 20 requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused, only that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The information provided by the Department shows the alarming level of support that Ireland is giving to US military operations overseas” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch.

“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?”

“The information reveals flights going to the likes of Saudi Arabia, which is dropping cluster bombs on Yemen. When we see the scale of the refugee crisis created by the use of weapons in Syria we begin to get a glimpse of how arms shipments can impact on a region. It’s not something we should be part of,” continued Mr Lannon.

The companies identified as carrying weapons and other war related material for the US include Atlas Air, Omni Air International, Southern Air, National Airlines, Delta Air, Kalitta Air and North American Airlines.

The information also reveals US troop movements via Shannon to airports in Eastern Europe as well as to Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Lannon added: “The records received by Shannonwatch reveal a lack of transparency, no proper oversight and little regard for the consequences of war.”