Fiachra Ó Luain, the Donegal-based former European Election candidate and member of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, is asking the people of Donegal to call for “a complete end to military activity at Shannon Airport”.
He wants Shannon to be made into a ‘genuine humanitarian hub’. Anyone who supports the idea is asked to contact members of both government parties and ask them to publicly back the proposal.
His stance is partly due to something that happened to a relation.
“My cousin from New Jersey was recruited into the US Army on the day of his High School graduation, aged 17.
“His only visit to ‘the old country’ was when he stopped over at Shannon en-route to the Middle East to take part in Operation Desert Storm.
“When my cousin told me about the flesh-burning weapons used against civilians in Iraq, it reminded me of when my father once opened up about having to identify the charred remains of his best friend after a helicopter crash and remove the melted wedding ring to take it home to the widow. That, and the unspeakable atrocities committed against the Vietnamese which he witnessed when he was a US Marine there.
“It really pains me to think that the only contact my American cousin had with Ireland is one that transformed him from being a sensitive and smart teenager into somebody implicated in the whole scale murder of strangers in a distant land.
“My cousin is one of hundreds of thousands who have passed through Shannon over the years. Imagine the cumulative terror that has been suffered and inflicted. I cannot even fathom it.
“I know that there are good people in both government parties who want to restore Ireland’s reputation. However ill-thought-out denials, such as an apparent U-turn by Eamon Gilmore regarding Shannon’s role in ‘extraordinary rendition’, do not help us move matters on.
“It is my opinion that Shannon can never be converted into a genuine ‘humanitarian hub’ until we fully face up to the role our infrastructure has played in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans and Americans and put an end to it.”