Security at the County Clare airport was rigorous despite the fact that Air Force One was due to touch down for refueling in the early hours of the morning.
Shannon is a major stopover for U.S. troops flying to and from the Middle East.
Controversy over Shannon’s role has lately increased with criticism of so-called “rendition” flights, which carry prisoners captured in the war against terror.
The Irish government says it accepts U.S. assurances that rendition flights have not used Shannon.
Prior to his trip, meanwhile, the president issued the customary proclamation designating March as Irish American Heritage Month.
THE IMC VISITS
The International Monitoring Committee was itself subjected to some monitoring this week during a U.S. visit.
The four-member body met with Irish American community leaders in New York and Washington, D.C.
The IMC was set up in January of 2004 by the Irish and British governments to monitor paramilitary groups, security normalization and political progress in Northern Ireland. It is led by Lord John Alderdice, the former North Assembly Speaker.
The other members are Dick Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA, Joe Brosnan, former secretary general of the Irish Department of Justice and John Grieve, a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London.
The four told Irish Echo that the Provisional IRA was following a path that was “overall very positive;” that there had been no great changes or “successes” with regard to dissident republicans, and that loyalist violence remained “very troubling” with a continued “high level of violence” marked by murders, shootings and beatings.
An American citizen on the U.S. Marshals Service “15 Most Wanted” list is challenging U.S. extradition proceedings in the Irish High Court.
Frederick David Russell is wanted by authorities in Washington State to face charges stemming from a car crash four years ago in which three college students were killed.
Russell, 27, previously told the High Court in Dublin that he fled the U.S. because he had received death threats.
Russell, who is being held without bail, was arrested by Gardai when it was found that he had been working as a security guard in a Dublin clothing store.
The fatal crash took place on June 4, 2001, near Pullman, Washington.
Russell suffered only minor injuries and was charged with drunk driving, three counts of vehicular homicide, and four counts of vehicular assault. He was released on bail but later absconded.
Russell was identified by a tipster in Dublin who saw his photo on the Marshal Service’s website.
DUNLEAVY LEADS IN VA
John Dunlkeavy chairs the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He will this year lead the march in Alexandria, Va.
Dunleavy is grand marshal for Alexandria’s 25th annual parade on Saturday, March 4.
Dunleavy will be joined in the event by former grand marshals Martin O’Malley, mayor of Baltimore, former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe and former New York parade grand marshal, Connie Doolan.
Details on the pre-parade Friday night dinner are available by calling (703) 237-2199 or from www.ballyshaners.org.
New Jersey’s Kean University is hosting a free panel discussion, “Keeping the Tradition Alive, The Irish and New Jersey Politics” on Wed., March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Academic Success, Room 106, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.
The event will be moderated by Irish Echo columnist Terry Golway. Those planning to attend should email email@example.com.
DEATH OF KAY DOHERTY
The death has taken place of Kay Doherty, mother of Irish community activist Patrick Doherty who for years has spearheaded the MacBride Principles campaign at the office of the New York City Comptroller.
The funeral of Mrs. Doherty, a Long Island resident, took place last weekend at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa followed by interment at St. Charles Cemetery.