Irish Government faces $14 million bill for protecting U.S. troops

Sinn Fein has slammed the Irish Government for paying over $14 million in security costs to protect U.S. troops passing through Shannon airport.
In an article in the Irish Examiner, Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain said that it was a "disgraceful situation," and that the use of Shannon by U.S. troops was "totally opposed by the overwhelming majority of Irish people who do not accept the legitimacy of the war in Afghanistan."
The bill accounts for 3 years of police and army protection at the airport. More than 243,000 US troops have passed through the airport while in transit to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Security was stepped up in 2003 after anti-war protesters severely damaged U.S. aircraft.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that the security bill was justified. It is estimated that Shannon airport made $10million from troop visits last year.
"The deployment of Garda resources is based on an assessment by the Garda authorities of the measures necessary to ensure the safety and security of personnel, staff, passengers and property at Shannon airport," said Ahern.
However, Sinn Fein and anti-war protesters believe that the use of Shannon airport by U.S. troops undermines the nations neutrality. The Irish government argues that the missions are carried out under a UN mandate.
The Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) has vehemently opposed troop movements through Shannon airport.
PANA chairman Roger Cole told the Irish Examiner that Ireland had become a "vassal state" of the "American empire."
In an anti-war rant, Cole said that the ordinary American family was the real loser in the War against terrorism.
"While it is the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Pakistan that have suffered most from the wars of the American empire and its vassal states like Ireland, the ordinary American family is being impoverished by its militarist neo-liberal agenda."