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Protestors block drivers from entering or leaving Shannon Airport

VEHICLES could not enter or leave Shannon Airport this afternoon for well over an hour, as a couple of dozen protesters staged a sit down protest.

Shannonwatch had organised a demonstration at around 2pm, and after that concluded a minority of those who attended refused to leave the roadway at the entrance to the airport.

Not only did they fail to heed the direction of Gardai, they also ignored calls to leave from some of the leaders of the original protest and many others who had taken part in it.

While the original protest started to break up at around 3pm, having only caused a relatively short delay, the splinter group continued to block access until just before 4.30pm, At this point a number of Gardai physically removed them.

This is the most disruptive protest against the use of Shannon by the US military for years, and caused issues for hundreds of people.

 A number of passengers left the buses that were bringing them to the airport, and walked a significant distance on foot. The majority who were travelling by car didn’t have that option.

While it is true that some of the organisers of the original protest urged people to leave once the sit down protest began, it is also true that during the initial speeches there had been praise for those involved in direct action protests in recent months. 

Around 500 people turned out for the original protest, including TDs Brid Smith and Catherine Connolly and MEP Clare Daly.

Organisers had called for people around the country to attend and the number was way higher than at their usual monthly protests. Banners on display showed that Palestinian supporters from as far apart as Newry and West Cork had travelled.

After a number of speeches those in attendance began to march towards the airport, where they found their way blocked by Gardai. This is something that would have been expected by the protesters, and there was still no sign of what would follow.

While most of those present moved after a short spell, it became apparent a few dozen would not leave and were intent on blocking access, despite the vast majority having moved away. 

As the delays went on and there was no sign of the protesters moving, there was huge frustration among those looking to get into the airport. 

“A lot of us agree with or are sympathetic to this cause but this kind of disruption is counter productive to ordinary people trying to get back to their families,” said one relatively measured driver close to the top of the long queue. 

Behind him another man had lost all patience. “It’s f**king stupidity. Palestinians aren’t going to pay for my salary.  It’s absolute bullsh*t,” he said.

Earlier in the day at the original gathering, Chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign Zoe Lawlor  praised those who had previously been involved in direct action at Shannon. “Some of our best comrades have been imprisoned for their actions and refusal of Ireland’s complicity in the US military machine,” she commented.

To cheers from the large crowd she praised those involved in recent actions. “All the actions lately, occupying the Airport Terminal, naming the children in the Terminal, the three activists who went on the runway are all part of this proud legacy and we have to keep it up. We cannot stop now, especially now. We cannot continue to allow this State to be complicit in genocide. “

Deputy Smith said assurances from Tánaiste Michéal Martin that the US military doesn’t bring military hardware through Shannon ring hollow. “How does he have that confidence, that question he won’t answer, that question he cannot answer, because they refuse to carry out checks, they don’t even carry out spot checks. They just accept at their word what the US military put on documents that they submit to the Department of Transport.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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