APPROXIMATELY 150-200 people attended a protest outside Shannon Airport last night, against the implementation of a ban on immigration to the US from seven Muslim majority countries and the use of Shannon by the US military.
While the protest was peaceful, a minority of protestors did engage in verbal abuse of Gardai particularly after the demonstrators were prevented from entering the airport.
This was by far the largest demonstration at the airport in recent years, the turnout more striking when one takes into account the wintry conditions.
A small number of Syrians were among the protestors, refugees who have been resettled in Newcastle West, Co Limerick.
The demonstrators began assembling beside the roundabout closest to the airport before 6pm, with a noticeable police presence there also.
The crowds were then addressed by a number of speakers, all of whom were critical of Trump and the restriction on US immigration. Some also hit out at the continued use of the airport by the US military.
After listening to the speakers, protestors began to walk towards the airport chanting “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here”. However they were met by a line of Gardai and barriers blocking their path. At this point there was some abuse of the Gardai, but things never boiled over. Operations Director of Shannon Airport Niall Moloney accepted a letter delivered by protestors.
Speaking to the Champion at the protest, Sinn Féin Councillor Mike McKee said that it is time Shannon’s US Customs and Border Preclearance facility to close. “My own view is it should be temporarily closed until such time as Donald Trump rescinds his decision to block all these immigrants. I think it is immoral and illegal under EU rules and laws that this is happening on Irish soil.”
Veteran peace protestor Ed Horgan wanted to draw attention to the recent death of a child, killed by US forces in Yemen last weekend. “This photograph I am holding is of an eight year old girl called Nawar al Awlaki. She was killed on Sunday last by US Special Forces on a raid in Yemen on the instruction of President Donald Trump. Donald Trump has already started killing innocent people including children in the Middle East. Clearly we are complicit in this killing. I’m horrified, I have children and grandchildren and we are complicit in the killing of children.”