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12 January 2006 Edition

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Mary Lou calls for inspection of US planes

Shannon Airport - Peace camp established

Campaigners have established a peace camp on the outskirts of Shannon Airport to protest at the continued use of the airport by US troops and military planes involved in the military occupation of Iraq.

Campaigners say the camp has been established to mark the third anniversary of the first peace camp there, and the start of the illegal US invasion of Iraq in January 2003.

Campaigners from Na Cosantóirí Siochana are calling on the Government to observe Ireland's neutrality and cease the practice of allowing US military planes, as well as civilian planes carrying US troops to the Gulf, to stop at Shannon.

Recent figures show that 330,000 US troops passed through Shannon last year, over 900 a day and more than double the number which passed through the airport in 2004.

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has called on the Dublin Government to immediately set out procedures allowing inspections of all planes suspected of being used in the illegal transfer of prisoners from Iraq to detention camps. McDonald made her comments after the 26-County Department of Transport confirmed that approximately 330,000 US troops passed through the airport in 2005.

It has also emerged that the Council of Europe has backed calls by the Irish Human Rights Commission on the possible irregular transfer of US prisoners via Irish airports.

Mary Lou McDonald said: "Year upon year the numbers of troops passing through Shannon Airport are on the increase. The latest figures show that some 900 troops are passing through the airport every day. Serious questions must be asked of this government which has shown itself to be compliant in undermining neutrality.

"The confirmation about increasing troop numbers through Shannon comes at a time when the European Union is set to examine allegations that the CIA had established detention camps in European countries to detain and illegally transport prisoners. Such allegations must be investigated thoroughly.

"A number of human rights groups and a Swedish parliamentary investigation identified the airport as potentially being involved in the transportation of prisoners by the CIA to locations where they may be subjected to torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.

"The Irish Government should immediately set out procedures allowing inspections of all planes suspected of being used in the transportation of prisoners from an illegal war in Iraq."

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