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17 November 2005 Edition

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Photos of US troops at Shannon raised in Dáil

The photographs of US troops in the public areas of Shannon Airport published exclusively by An Phoblacht last week, were raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin on Wednesday. He asked the Taoiseach if the Government's National Security Committee had addressed the issue of "the continuing use of Shannon Airport as a staging post for the war in Iraq".

He asked the Taoiseach if the Government has addressed the issue of US planes carrying prisoners whose rights are being abused, and who are possibly being tortured. Ó Caoláin raised the demand of human rights organisations that these planes be inspected by the Irish authorities. "As the head of Government will the Taoiseach take responsibility and will he now bring an end to this shameful chapter in Irish foreign policy, in violation of neutrality?" he asked.

The Taoiseach responded that he accepted the assurances of the US government that prisoners were not being carried through Shannon, and said the reconstruction of Iraq had a UN mandate but Ó Caoláin pointed out that the war was still ongoing.

Meanwhile, several TDs have called for charges to be dropped against the Shannon Five following a second mistrial of the anti-war protestors last week.

A first trial against the protestors, accused of damaging a US aircraft at Shannon airport, was abandoned when Judge Frank O'Donnell withdrew it from the jury on the sixth day.

The second trial collapsed after defence lawyers suggested that judge Donagh MacDonagh had been invited to both of George W Bush's presidential inaugurations and attended the first one in 2000..

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh joined John Gormley TD of the Green Party, Labour's Joe Costello TD, Senator David Norris and Independent TD Tony Gregory at a press conference on Thursday 10 November to call for criminal charges against Ciaron O'Reilly, Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon and Damien Moran, commonly known as the Ploughshares Five, to be dropped.

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