There have been nine instances of US troops staying overnight at Shannon Airport since the Irish Government introduced Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions at the beginning of January.
The Department of Foreign Affairs told the Irish Examiner that nine American flights had stayed overnight from the start of January until the end of February, while Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told the Dáil that 44 foreign military aircraft landed at the airport between January 1 and February 17 at a rate of almost one per day.
Last month, US authorities apologized to the Irish Government after military personnel staying overnight in Ireland breached the country's COVID-19 regulations. The 48 military personnel arrived from Bahrain on January 25 and failed to provide legally-required negative PCR tests, while they also failed to provide a passenger locator form.
The troops stayed overnight at a Limerick hotel before departing for the United States the following morning.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has confirmed that two earlier US flights also breached Ireland's COVID-19 restrictions. On January 11, 59 US military personnel arrived at Shannon Airport and failed to provide passenger locator forms, while 54 military personnel failed to provide negative PCR tests or passenger locator forms on January 23.
One further planeload of American troops reportedly stayed overnight in Shannon on February 8 - four days after US authorities apologized for the incident in January.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy asked Coveney for the number of foreign military aircraft that had landed at Shannon Airport in 2021.
"Between 1 January and 17 February 2021, diplomatic clearance has been provided for landings of forty-four foreign military aircraft in Ireland," Coveney said.
The Minister said that 25 of the 28 military flights that arrived in January were from the US, while two flights came from the Netherlands and one came from Switzerland.
The Department of Foreign Affairs told the Irish Examiner that it advises all embassies accredited to Ireland of the country's public regulations, while the Department also informed US authorities that military flights were expected to adhere to restrictions.
However, the Department said that it does not monitor whether those staying overnight are complying with public health guidelines.
Paul Murphy said that US military flights should be banned but said that the Department of Foreign Affairs should at least enforce Ireland's COVID-19 regulations.
"I think all US military flights through Shannon should be banned, but the very least they need to do is enforce the COVID rules that are there, rather than just them asking nicely to follow the rules."