Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Non-Stop Stopping at Shannon

A Dublin friend of mine, who is also a former resident of Paris, was over here for the weekend; he has been a tireless campaigner (along with many others) against US Military flights into Shannon for the past four years and he is currently engaged on a quixotic task to get electoral candidates to commit to a resolution that will ultimately apply the law of the land and put an end to the illegal stopovers. There have been a few takers, such as Michael D. Higgins, who has drafted his own statement on the matter, while Ciarán Cuffe weighed in with the wryly-worded 'we hope to be opposed to the stopovers'. The flights are clearly not an election issue - and there is no real reason (other than a moral one) why they should be as elections in any country are rarely fought on matters of foreign policy. I have tried explaining this to American expats living in Paris over the scant reference to such a thing in the French Presidential campaign.

More worrying however is the likelihood that the issue of the Shannon stopovers will be sidelined in an eventual coalition government, which is more than likely going to involve Labour, and possibly the Greens too. I cannot see Labour - no matter how strongly individual TDs feel about the Shannon stopovers - exhausting their policy trump card on a matter that the majority of Irish people have but a passing interest in. I would like to believe otherwise but this is the way it is probably going to be, and I can't say either that I would entirely blame Labour for such a stance. Instead I imagine that the world will watch as the Americans pull out of Iraq and in the wake of the Septics' reintegration into the less clamorous world, the issue of the Shannon stopovers will be quietly put to rest. That's politics for you, to paraphrase a former Taoiseach.