Category: Archive

Inside File: Irish opinion aflutter as war’s winds buffet Shannon

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Shannon has been available to U.S. military forces for years. It became an important stop on the way to the Gulf War.
It is being used again by the U.S. as a facility for troops and equipment bound for Afghanistan and the Middle East in the context of the war against terrorism.
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the Irish government, foreign minister Brian Cowen to the fore, was quick off the mark in making Shannon available again to the Pentagon. Such a move, as was the case during the Gulf War, was not in breach of Irish military neutrality because, it was argued, U.S. forces were carrying out the will of the United Nations.
But what if the now expected attack on Iraq is a unilateral affair, or an operation involving just the U.S. and Britain?
In such circumstances, the ground gets suddenly trickier for Cowen, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and those other members of the government who want to provide meaningful assistance to the special friends in Washington — and to be seen doing it.
Suffice it to say, there could be a fierce row.
Vincent Browne has long been one of Ireland’s more probing journalists. A recent column by the man in the Irish Times began thus: “I don’t recall any D

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