By Pat Flynn
The vice-president of the United States has been criticised for ‘rallying the troops’ at Shannon Airport on Saturday when he met with US military personnel travelling to Iraq.
Air Force Two, carrying Mike Pence, arrived at Shannon at around lunchtime on Saturday.
The C32 jet was followed soon afterwards by a C17 transport plane which also arrived from Rome with equipment used during Mr Pence’s visits to Israel and Italy.
Also at the airport at the time was an Omni Air International Boeing 767-300 jet. The US charter airline is one of the main civilian carriers transporting troops for the US military. The troops were travelling to Iraq via Kuwait.
While Mr Pence’s aircraft, Air Force Two, was being refuelled he disembarked and entered the departures hall where he met US military.
Mr Pence wrote on his personal Twitter account: “Great seeing US Troops from Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York during our stop in Ireland today! Proud of you and grateful for your service! God Bless Our Troops!”
He also posted a 43 second video of him arriving in the terminal, meeting troops, posing for photographs and signing autographs.
The move has however been criticised by the International Secretary of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance.
Edward Horgan said: “It seems we are no longer a sovereign country and that those that fought and died for Irish sovereignty, independence and justice fought and died in vain.
Mike Pence, US Vice President, for the second time in the past six months, has deliberately abused Irish sovereignty and neutrality by using Shannon Airport to greet US troops who are breaching Irish sovereignty by transiting through neutral Ireland on their way to wage wars of aggression in the Middle East.”
Pence’s meeting with US troops at Shannon airport is not only a very serious insult to the Irish Government and a serious breach of diplomatic protocol, it is also a serious insult to the Irish people,” Mr Horgan said.
Last September, the west Clare village of Doonbeg was placed in lockdown when Mr Pence stayed at the Trump-owned hotel. The vice-president dined at Morrissey’s Restaurant which is run by distant cousin Hugh McNally and where he worked behind the bar for a time during a visit in the 1980s.