An unnamed activist group has claimed responsibility for the vandalism on a plane used by US military personnel at Shannon Airport in the early hours of December 20th. The incident had gone unclaimed until yesterday, when the monthly bulletin of the Galway Alliance Against War published "handwritten communication we received from one of the members of the peace team that sabotaged a US troop transporter at Shannon warport".
The Irish Examiner reports that the Alliance verified with the sender of the letter that he or she took part in the vandalism at Shannon Airport. The letter goes on to clarify the motive of the timing of the attack: “It was appropriate to carry out this peace action in Christmas week, when the media and politicians’ speeches, the world over, are full of hypocritical Christian cant about peace, while they support and even profit from wars in far off lands."
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The letter also details how the group went about their security breach at Shannon. The Irish Examiner writes that the group was dropped off around a perimeter fence at the Co Clare airport and quickly made their way through two more fences. They located the aircraft, a DC-10 jet operated by OmniAir International under US Air Mobility Command contract, which was “completely deserted” according to the letter, despite busy activity in the airport itself.
Then, the group embarked on their sabotage of the aircraft. The letter published reads that "Beforehand we agreed we would immobilise the hydraulics of all the landing gear. Four sets of landing gear were sabotaged. This was all pre-planned. Another peace activist sprayed the words: ‘Peace — US troops out’ on the side of the plane."
Shannon Airport has been a point of contention for many anti-war activists, as it often serves as a lay-over and refueling port for US military aircraft. About 600 troops pass through the Irish airport everyday to and from conflict areas in the Middle East. At a protest last month, one US Veteran said “neutrality of Ireland is being undermined and trampled upon by the US military.”
Gardai say that the investigation into the incident is continuing. This is not the first act of vandalism on a US military aircraft at Shannon Airport. In January 2003, activist Mary Kelly attacked a US navy jet with an axe. Her conviction was quashed earlier this year. Days after that incident, a group of five activists damaged the same plane after it had been moved to a hangar for repairs. Following a 21-day trial in 2006, the five were acquitted.