MORE than 71,000 US troops passed through Shannon Airport during 2020.
While the US military use of Shannon has been hugely controversial for many years now, it has also provided Shannon with a significant amount of business. The US military traffic was particularly significant last year, as the figure of 71,000 means that more than 20% of passengers at Shannon in 2020.
Late last year independent figures provided in the Oireachtas showed that in the first ten months of the year there had been 65,965 troops at the airport. This month Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told the Dáil that there had been another 3,414 troops passing through Shannon in November and a further 1,884 in December.
Combined, the figures show that 71,263 troops passed through Shannon over the 12 months. Interestingly the number of US troops who passed through Shannon in December was actually higher than the number of people who arrived for a stay in Ireland through Shannon in the same month.
There has been countless protests held against the use of Shannon by the US military, while a number of protestors have actually breached Shannon’s perimeter fence to make their point, leading to criminal proceedings.
Shannonwatch has led opposition to the continuing use of the airport by the US military, and some of those protesting have been involved for many years, back to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed the September 11 attacks on America.
Edward Horgan has been a central figure in Shannonwatch for years and very committed to the protests. On Tuesday, he said that heavy US use of the airport has continued since the start of this year “Even in the last couple of days there have been several US military planes through Shannon. On Monday there were two US navy planes and a contract cargo plane. It is still ongoing.Our concerns and our protests will still be continuing despite the change of regime in the US.”
While he said the election of Biden in place of Trump is welcome, he is worried that policies pursued when he was Vice President may continue. “Our main concern has been the killing of a huge number of people in the Middle East. We would be concerned that Biden would continue with the policies of Obama in particular, of targeted assassinations, which saw the killing of significant numbers of innocent people. These were brought in in lieu of extraordinary rendition, but clearly killing someone is even more serious than torturing somebody.”