Tuesday 26 September 2017

Request to ferry rockets through Shannon denied

Transport Minister Shane Ross has ordered a review of the law
Transport Minister Shane Ross has ordered a review of the law

Rory Tevlin

An application seeking to transport five warhead rockets via Shannon Airport was among 16 permits refused by the Department of Transport under the carriage of munitions of war order this year.

Other applications to transport class one explosives and bombs on a number of flights through Irish airspace from the United States to Germany and the United Arab Emirates were also refused.

Figures provided by the department show 377 exemptions for munitions of war, weapons and dangerous goods were allowed to date this year.

A total of 6,761 permits have been made for munitions of war on flights travelling through Irish airspace, or landing at Irish airports, since 2010.

The Ukraine Air Alliance sought the special exemption to transport the warhead rockets from Turkey to the United States and land at Shannon Airport on May 5, which was refused.

Another application refused included the personal weapons of troops on a flight from the US to Qatar, which was due to land at Shannon this January.

A total of 135 flights with personal weapons of troops on board landed at Shannon Airport up to this May, with more than 22,000 US troops passing through the airport in that period. Only five exemptions were sought to transport weapons via Dublin Airport, all of which were granted.

The majority of flights this year carried weapons en route to Kuwait, followed by Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Turkey and Qatar.

There have been repeated concerns raised about Ireland's neutrality given the use of Shannon Airport, in particular, as a stop-over for the US military. However, senior gardaí said they have "no intelligence whatsoever" to suggest it is a terrorist target.

The Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order 1973 provides no munitions or weapons of war may be carried by an aircraft in Irish airspace - without an exemption.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said he "recently decided" his department should conduct an internal review of this order, given the changes to international law in the past 44 years.

Irish Independent

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