Protesters at Shannon Airport demonstrate against US president

More than one hundred protesters turned out at Shannon Airport to demonstrate against President Donald Trump’s arrival.

A peace camp was set up with a number of tents, tables and a stage in a green space near the airport – with speeches, poetry, and music throughout the day.

Many of the protesters who attended were there to protest Shannon Airport’s use by the American military.

President Trump state visit to Ireland
President Trump state visit to Ireland

In 2002, the Irish government agreed to provide landing and refuelling facilities to the US military at the airport, and close to three million US troops and their weapons have passed through the airport in the years since.

This arrangement between the two nations was sparked by the American war with Iraq, and implemented under then-taoiseach Bertie Aherne.

The move has been has been a point of considerable consternation despite the passage of time.

Wednesday’s protest was organised by local group Shannonwatch, who hold bi-weekly demonstrations at the airport protesting the military, they were joined by over a hundred people, of all ages, to protest against President Trump himself and his “racist, sexist and transphobic policies and climate denial”.

Politicians Catherine Connolly, the independent TD for Galway, newly elected MEP Clare Daly, and Labour TD for Limerick, Jan O Sullivan all stood shoulder to shoulder with the crowd who carried the flags of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Palestine as well as signs and banners protesting Mr Trump.

Speaking at the event, Ms Connolly said she felt it important to stand against Mr Trump’s policies.

“I think President Trump’s policies are not acceptable and it’s unacceptable that we’re using Shannon Airport to traffic American soldiers to wars all over the world, it’s important to stand up for our neutrality,” she said.

“We should be a force for peace in the world.

“There’s no doubt we have strong relations with America, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we should stand up for what is right.”

Likewise, Clare Daly told the crowds that Ireland was being used to transport soldiers to “theatres of war” in the Middle East.

One protester, Saoirse Exton, 13, who said the peace camp was her 15th protest, was there to stand against President Trump’s policies on climate change.

“I think climate change needs to be stopped and there’s not enough action being taken on it,” she said.

“President Trump doesn’t recognise climate change as a real cause, he pulled out of the Paris Climate agreement, and America has the biggest carbon emissions, and they’re one of the biggest countries that need to take action.

“I want to preserve this earth for future generations, my generation are going to be the last generation if we don’t do something about it.”

A small group of Trump supporters also turned out at Shannon to counteract the peace camp.

Holding Trump electoral campaign and Israel flags, around 20 supporters sang hymns, and shouted their support for the president.

Gerald O’Carroll, from Co Kerry, said he felt that he should be at the airport to welcome the American leader.

“I admire him, I admire his defence of free speech and his restoration of freedom of the press,” he said.

“We love him also for what he has done for babies in the womb, to liberate the child and liberate men.

“All these things make him loved here, as he is loved in his own country.”

When asked if he felt President Trump was sexist, Mr O’Carroll said: “People who kill female babies, that’s who is sexist.

“No doubt, you (the media) have investigated what the metro-liberals do, why do you think there is so many unhappy women around?”

During the protests, letters were handed over to a senior Garda to be passed on to US President Trump and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The letters called for an immediate end to the US military use of Shannon, and what the letters called “Irish complicity in US military operations, and the environmental destruction of the planet”.