Report by Edward Horgan to the AGM on 5 October 2009

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Dear PANA members,

I cannot be with you today because I am in the Ukraine as part of an OSCE team monitoring the forthcoming presidential elections.

The two past years has been very busy ones for PANA from national, regional (EU) and international points of view. We campaigned very actively in the European Union Lisbon Treaty referendum campaigns, and against all the odds we helped the Irish people to reject the Lisbon Treaty in the 2008 referendum. Due to the gross incompetence and corruption of the Irish Government, the Irish economy collapsed in the meantime and the Irish people have been persuaded to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in the second referendum, on the fraudulent basis that we cannot afford to offend the European Union in the hope that they will bail us out of our economic crisis. The truth is that it is not the EU or IMF who will bail out our corrupt bankers, developers and politicians, but our children and grandchildren who been mortgaged to pay for our government’s incompetent corruption, while the bankers and developers and some politicians will still have their bonuses and offshore accounts.

Meanwhile, the militarisation of Europe continues apace with the few remaining neutral states being sucked into NATO and EU militarisation projects. These projects include the now doomed foreign occupation of Afghanistan, the French neo-colonial interference in Chad and the Central African Republic, and the ongoing debacle in Iraq. Meanwhile the Genocide in Darfur and the deaths of over four million people in the Congo are being largely ignored. The economic and foreign policy incompetence of the Irish Government has been surpassed by the incompetence of their international masters in Brussels and Washington, and the cost of this incompetence and crimes against humanity has been over one million dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. This incompetence was also demonstrated by the precipitous and unwarranted expansion of NATO into the eastern European states on the borders of Russia. The people of Georgia have paid a very heavy price for this, and they have now probably permanently lost the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russia.

It has recently been exposed that the Government of Lithuania traded membership of NATO for the establishment of a CIA torture prison at a location called Antivilai near Vilnius. This agreement was reached between US President George W Bush and President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania in early 2002, just around the same time (16 March 2002) that Irish Prime Minister Ahern probably made a similar agreement with the same G W Bush to allow US troops to transit through Shannon airport, and to allow CIA torture planes to refuel at Shannon. We don’t yet know what Bertie Ahern got in return, or what threats were made by Bush, or in what account dollars might have been lodged. We do know that the US Government at the time was threatening to introduce legislation that would force US companies to transfer foreign direct investment from countries such as Ireland back to the US. Following the Bush/Ahern’s agreement in 2002 to allow US troops and CIA planes to use Shannon, the proposed US legislation did not materialise. In the meantime over one and a half million armed US troops have passed through Shannon airport, over 1,000 CIA associated flights have been refuelled, and thousands of tons of highly dangerous munitions have also transited through Shannon. Over the past year Air France/City Jet, Aer Lingus and Ryanair have withdrawn many of their services from Shannon airport, to such an extent that the US military are now one of the largest user of this airport, and have troops permanently based at Shannon. The reality now is that Shannon airport is a US military base, and this is not just an anti-war cliché. Irish neutrality has not just been degraded it has been abandoned in a smokescreen of government lies at Shannon airport.

We as Irish citizens and as members of PANA could just accept all this as reality and take no further action, particularly after having lost round two of Lisbon. That would be a serious mistake and would be inherently wrong. We must continue to do what is right because it is right. We must ally ourselves with similar human rights and peace groups in Ireland and internationally and we must increase our efforts for peace and justice in Ireland and internationally. While the restoration of Irish neutrality is, and should remain, one of our key objectives, the PEACE element of our PANA organisation is our primary objective. Neutrality is one of the ways of promoting peace, and peace without JUSTICE is just a temporary ceasefire.

As International Secretary of PANA I have been active in a wide variety of ways, not least of which was the completion of a PhD thesis on reform of the United Nations in 2008. At Shannon airport I have been part of a very small group of peace activists who have been exposing the complicity of the Irish government in crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. For a while there were just two or three of us, but now we are getting increasing valuable support from the local Amnesty group and others and this has led to the holding of monthly peace vigils at Shannon on the second Sunday of every month from 2pm to 3pm, and to the setting up of the website We also organised two successful international peace conferences at Shannon in March and September of this year, with substantial help from PANA and IAWM. We have established contacts with peace groups in the United States, Sweden and Germany, with the objective of sharing information on CIA torture flights.

Looking back, while we can claim some successes, we must acknowledge a deep sense of shame at the actions of our government, supported by many Irish people and probably by a majority of Irish politicians, in being actively complicit in crimes against humanity. With over one million fellow members of humanity unlawfully killed and very many more seriously injured, and many thousands tortured, we all owe a debt of atonement to these victims. We must do all we can into the future to ensure some retrospective justice for these people and to ensure some accountability by our politicians and others who have been guilty of the most serious crimes in these matters.

Looking forward, we must be steadfast in our determination to pursue peace with justice. I recommend that all members of PANA should make the restoration of Irish neutrality and the ending of the US military abuse of Shannon airport a priority. We need to put an action plan in place to achieve this, and this should include the following:

  1. Continuing support for the monthly peace vigils at Shannon airport, and the organisation of larger peace protests at Shannon on specific occasions such 20 March and 11 November each year.
  2. Consider the setting up a war-crimes tribunal in Ireland at which Irish politicians and others who were complicit in crimes against humanity would be tried in a people’s court.
  3. There should be a separate investigation, led by PANA, into Irish complicity in the CIA torture rendition programme.
  4. Find ways of making some atonement to the victims of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the complicity by Ireland in these crimes was primarily financially driven, we must find ways of ensuring that as many of the victims as possible can claim some financial compensation and reparations for the Irish Government, in proportion to the Irish Government’s complicity, with added exemplary penalties. This should apply in particular to prisoners who were tortured. It is vital that neither the Irish taxpayer nor other individuals should have profited from war crimes.
  5. Most importantly, we must do everything in our power, using non-violent means, to end the US military and CIA use of Shannon airport, even if this means the temporary closing of Shannon airport, and other necessary peace actions including acts of so-called “civil disobedience”. The real civil disobedience and serious breaches of the law have been committed by the Irish Government and its agents including the Gardai at Shannon. Our actions to repair some of the injustices committed and make some atonement will be acts of “civil obedience”, and acts to restore the proper rule of law, and uphold the principles of justice.
  6. On an international level, we should form further alliances with other likeminded peace and justice groups in Ireland and internationally to promote our common aims. These groups should include organisations that promote neutrality in other countries, groups that seek the reform and transformation of the United Nations so that it can achieve its primary objective of creating international peace, and groups such as the Nonviolent Peaceforce.
  7. PANA should promote the specific objective of encouraging the countries that border on Russia to become neutral states, thereby creating a buffer zone or a zone of peace of neutral states between Russia and NATO member states. This should include encouraging the continuing neutrality of Sweden and Finland, and promoting neutrality for the following countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.


Finally, we must not underestimate the scale of the tasks ahead, but we must also appreciate how much we can achieve if we work together and with others. International peace by peaceful means is achievable. War and military aggression, and so-called peace-enforcement, are the opposite to peace, and only promote further violence and mayhem, as is evident in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Edward Horgan, International Secretary, PANA

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