Thursday, 11 July 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein)
He has not given us a debate. I ask again for a debate at the earliest opportunity following our return in September, if we return. I draw attention to Edward Horgan in particular, who is a tremendous campaigner on Shannon and a former member of the Army. He pointed out that on 4 July, Miami Air M758MA, which is on contract to the US military, stopped in Shannon to refuel on its way back to the United States from the Middle East. Significantly, its destination in the Middle East was Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, just across the Red Sea from Yemen, where up to 100,000 children have died as the result of a war perpetrated by Saudi Arabia and its coalition. This is not the only aeroplane that has come through Shannon Airport to support that war. Mid-air refuelling planes landed at the airport last year. As the name suggests, these aircraft help refuel planes so they can continue bombing. Of all the wars in the world right now, the war in Yemen is perhaps the most horrific in terms of civilian deaths, and civilian slaughter from bombs in particular. I do not know about anyone else in this Chamber, but I cannot see how anyone can feel comfortable with our airport being used to support that war. We are supposed to be a neutral country. For three years, the Leader has dodged having a debate on this issue. I say that respectfully. I can understand why he has done so as there is no way to justify handing over our civilian airport in Shannon to US military forces. It is an absolute disgrace. I am entitled to a debate, and if we come back in September, I ask the Leader to respect the request I have been making for three years at this point in order that we can have a debate and I can hear where each of the political parties stands on the issue of the US military use of Shannon Airport. I want our civilian airport back and I hope others will join with me in that wish.