This Letter was published in the Irish Examiner on 1/8/2023.
Lessons from Dunnes Stores workers and Shannon Airport
Dear Editor, Paul Hosford highlighted the issue of US military use of Shannon airport in his article “US plane that carried weapons through Shannon was not checked for cluster bombs” (Irish Examiner, 27 July). In spite of continuously stating that Ireland is a neutral country and using this to help gain membership of the UN Security Council for 2021 and 2022, successive Irish governments have allowed aircraft associated with the US military and the CIA to refuel at Shannon airport over the past three decades.
The US and its NATO and other allies were waging wars that included the overthrow of the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, and carrying out unjustified military aggression against Serbia, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. US military use of Shannon airport made the Irish Government, and by default the Irish people, complicit in the deaths due to war related reasons of millions of people including an estimated one million children. Thirty-nine years ago, a courageous group of Dunnes stores workers went on strike to protest against apartheid human rights abuses in South Africa. Their names were Mary Manning, Karen Gearon, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Theresa Mooney, Vonnie Munroe, Cathryn O’Reilly, Alma Russel, and Tommy Davis. It is now time for equally courageous workers at Shannon airport to refuse to refuel and service aircraft associated with the US military.
It is never too late to do what is right. It will not bring back those who have already died but will help to prevent more unjustified deaths into the future, just as the actions of the Dunnes Stores workers helped to end apartheid in South Africa.
Edward Horgan, Castletroy, Limerick
This Letter was published in the Irish News 5/8/2023 and an edited version in the Irish Daily Mail on 7/8/2023.
Time to Remember the Consequences of Nuclear Wa
Irish CND will be holding their annual commemoration and remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Merrion Square, Dublin on Sunday 6th of August at 1.00pm.
Christopher Nolan’s staggering film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man known as “the father of the atomic bomb” is indeed worth watching but a real-life war between two nuclear powers Russia and NATO in Ukraine continues to escalate.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the war in Ireland through negotiations.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, PANA inspired by the GFA has advocated a ceasefire and negotiations in a conflict that could escalate into a nuclear war that would destroy the entire world.
In May 2023, PANA commissioned an Ipsos Omnipoll showing 87% of people in Ireland also supported a ceasefire to facilitate negotiations in the Ukraine war.
If there ever was a time to remember the consequences of a nuclear war, now is that time.
Roger Cole, Chair, Peace & Neutrality Alliance
This letter was published in the Irish Times on 23/8/2023.
Lethal aid to an army at war and Irish neutrality
A Chara, – Your editorial on Ukraine’s counter-offensive makes two points of the utmost importance, though without elucidation. You write: “To a small extent the offensive has been assisted by Irish Army training of demining teams, vital to clearing the way for mass attacks across heavily-mined ground.”
The obvious conclusion – that this is an egregious breach of Irish neutrality– is not stated.
Similarly, though your editorial comments on the Government’s controversial plan to provide training “in basic lethal military skills such as rifle use and tactics”, this is effectively excused by repetition of the Government’s own justification – that this training is “required for Ukraine to defend itself, thus not breaching Ireland’s military neutrality”. This is a non sequitur.
One can only conclude that the Government is the chef, and we are the frog slowly being brought to the boil by incremental increases in temperature: first, flak jackets to Ukraine, then demining training for frontline sappers, and now weapons training.
Lethal aid to an army at war from a country insisting it is neutral against all the evidence to the contrary, and still the frog remains passive. – Is mise,
This letter was published in the Irish Times on 25/8/2023.
Western militarists only add to the carnage on both sides in Ukraine.
Sir, your editorial (Monday, 21 August) hints at the scale and horror of the Russian Ukraine war but offers little hope for a cessation of the bloodbath. If the quoted estimates by US officials are accurate this means that, on average, over 6,400 Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded every week since the war began 78 weeks ago.
If this “war of attrition” as you rightly term it lasts “well into next year” - say another 40 weeks - and the killing spree continues at this pace, then a further 256,000 soldiers on both sides will have been either killed or horribly maimed. Such estimates do not even consider the devastating toll on civilians and the environment. Any claim that flooding Ukraine with sophisticated weaponry has helped the Ukrainians has to be offset by the fact that the war reached a bloody stalemate many months ago with little movement of the front line but with an obscene scale of human slaughter not unlike WW1.
The addition of cluster munitions is more than “controversial”, since they are banned by so many countries and their impact will cause loss of civilian lives for decades to come. The mirage of the F-16s touted by many western militarists will likely only add to the carnage on both sides.
In this context alone, notwithstanding the clear breach of Ireland’s neutrality, it beggars' belief that Micheál Martin has joined this militaristic frenzy by offering Irish expertise in weapon training when he should instead be joining the international call for a ceasefire and peace negotiations.
PRO Steering Committee, Irish Anti-War Movement
This letter was published in the Irish Examiner on 6/9/2023, and in the Irish Times, Irish Daily Mail, and the Sunday Times.
Turning Peacekeepers into Warmongers
Dear Editor, The FF/FG/GP Government has now agreed that Irish Defence Forces are to train Ukrainian soldiers how to kill Russian soldiers, not just providing them with non-lethal materials such as body armour.
The war in the Ukraine is rapidly escalating, hundreds of thousands of troops have already been slaughtered, as more and more new weapons such as cluster bombs, cancer-inducing depleted uranium munitions and long-range missiles are being used. Suggestions that neighbouring NATO states may start sending troops into Ukraine, and if so, how will the Russians respond, by attacking these states as well as de facto NATO states like Ireland?
So where will "Irish Neutrality" as now defined by this government end?
Some suspect that part of that ‘re-defining’ is an ever-closer Partnership with nuclear-armed NATO through the Partnership for Peace (PfP). Irish Neutrality was a core value of the participants of the 1916 Rising, and a core value of de Valera, Collins, and Griffith in their negotiations with the British Empire.
A recent Ipsos Omnipoll revealed 87% of Irish people want a ceasefire and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine but this has been ignored in favour of the views of the 8% that do not want a ceasefire. Irish people want peace and demilitarisation, a country that is dedicated to the peaceful settlement of international disputes as described so eloquently in Article 29 of the Irish Constitution, a Constitution our Government has pledged to honour and uphold.
Yours, Roger Cole,
Peace & Neutrality Alliance
This letter was published in the Irish examiner on 7/9/2023 and in the Irish Daily Mail
Dear Editor, International media sources have been counter-intuitively critical of the Afghan Taliban Government ban on opium poppy production. Drug addiction is a huge problem within Afghanistan and worldwide. The US Institute for Peace published a report entitled “The Taliban’s Successful Opium Ban is Bad for Afghans and the World”. The reality is that the Afghan people are still being denied adequate vital survival resources by sanctions and the damage caused by two decades of US led war and occupation for which no reparations will ever be forthcoming. The former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, stated that the drug trade was one of the factors in his decision to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001. However, Blair should have known that according to the UN Drug Control Program, the Taliban government had banned the production of Opium poppies in July 2000 resulting in a reduction in the production of poppies of over 90% by May 2001. During the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan the production of opium poppies increased from about 20,000 hectares in 2001 to about 300,000 hectares in 2018. The renewed Afghan government ban on the production of opium poppies is fully justified. The Irish government actively supported the unjustified US-led Afghan war for 20 years, leaving the Afghan people in chaos and destitute. The overthrow of the Afghan and Iraqi Governments were in breach of the UN Charter, yet there has been no accountability for any of these crimes against the Afghan and Iraqi people. The so-called ‘rules based international order’ has been causing disorder, international chaos, and war crimes.
This letter was published in the Irish Times on 12/9/2023 and the Irish Examiner on 13/9/2023.
Cluster munitions, US military and Shannon Airport
Sir, – The Convention on Cluster Munitions adopted in Dublin in 2008 included an undertaking never, “in any circumstance”, to “transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly” cluster munitions. Since the US announced that it was sending cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, several aircraft on contract to the US military have been refuelled at Shannon airport on their way to locations in Poland, including Rzeszów Jasionka airport located just 50 miles from the Ukraine border and to Poznan airport in Poland where the US now has a large logistic base called Camp Kosciuszko, which is being used to support the Ukrainian military forces.
An independent report by Humanity and Inclusion found that almost 700 people had been killed or injured by cluster munitions in Ukraine in 2022. No US aircraft in Shannon has ever been checked to ascertain if it contains these or any weapons.
As the host country for the adoption of the convention on cluster munitions, surely the time has long passed for Ireland to check these aircraft for the presence of such weapons. –
This letter published in both the Irish Times and Irish Independent on the 15/9/2023.
Those who helped destroy Libya need to be held accountable and should now pay up to help flooding victims.
Dear Editor, It is good to see that the Irish Government plans to contribute €1,000,000 to the Libyan Storm Daniel disaster, but disappointing that the European Union only plans to contribute €500,000 so far. The UN has pledged ten million dollars but even this is inadequate. Western mainstream media is highlighting the chaotic political and conflict situations in Libya as contributing factors to the huge death toll, without mentioning who and what helped cause Libya to become a failed state.
UN Security Council resolution 1973 in March 2011 approved a no-fly-zone resolution on Libya for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, but this was seriously abused by NATO and its allies who launched over 14,000 air attacks on Libya and helped to overthrow its government, and then abandoned the Libyan people to over a decade of chaos. Eleven EU states Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Bulgaria, Greece, Netherlands, and Romania, participated in this bombing, for the supposed reasons of bringing peace, freedom, human rights, and democracy to Libya.
The United Nations and the international community have failed the people of Libya, who now need not only our prayers but also much practical help in coping with this huge disaster. Those who helped to destroy Libya need to be held accountable and need to be forced to pay reparations to undo some of the damage they have caused.