Student representatives have rejected a proposal to hold a referendum on whether the union should adopt a formal stance against the use of Shannon airport by the US military.
At Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU)’s fifth Council meeting of the academic year this evening, two long-term proposal (LTP) motions were proposed, with only one of the motions passed.
The first LTP motion, which would have put forward a referendum on tse of Shannon Airport by the US military, was rejected by a Council vote.
Proposing the motion, Junior Fresh PPES class rep László Molnárfi noted that Shannon Airport has been used by the US military for almost two decades, and “it is effectively a forward operating base used to support their operations in the Middle East, with approximately three million US troops and their weapons, regular US Air Force/Navy cargo planes, and an unknown number of CIA extraordinary rendition flights passing through since 2002”.
In a referendum, students would have voted on whether TCDSU should “adopt a formal, committed stance in support of the Shannonwatch movement and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) non-governmental organization”.
Speaking at Council this evening, Molnárfi said: “This is something local that we can act on and we can help change.”
Responding to the motion, Mathew Henry SS Convenor raised a question as to what the motion would achieve for an average student, with Education Officer Megan O’Connor saying that while she “appreciates the spirit” of this motion, she was unsure “if this will be possible to take action on”.
Current STEM Convenor Daniel O’Reilly also spoke in opposition of the motion, stating that “I don’t see what we could really do”. Similar sentiments were expressed by President Eoin Hand.
Speaking to Trinity News before Council this evening, Molnárfi said: “Shannon Airport has been described by former U.N weapon’s inspector Scott Ritter as being part of the U.S army’s “conveyor-belt of death”, playing a direct role in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.”
“The United States, with more than 800 military bases in 70 countries and its aggressive interventionist foreign policy, has been the single biggest driver of Western imperialism for decades, toppling democratically-elected governments it does not see aligned with its political agenda and plundering countries for natural resources such as oil, all with tragic consequences for the men, women and children living there.”
“To this end, we decided to start local, with Ireland’s Shannon Airport, by proposing to commit our union in support of the PANA and Shannonwatch NGOs, which seek to promote Irish neutrality and anti-war policies.”
Peace and Neutrality Alliance, or PANA, is an Irish anti-war grouping, and a lobby group which campaigns to protect Irish neutrality.
“It must be recognized that erosion of Irish neutrality is inextricably linked to the regular use of Shannon Airport by the U.S military and that therefore the Irish government, by their inaction, is indirectly complicit in the U.S’s bloody and devastating wars across the globe.”
Molnárfi added that they “have the support” of political based Trinity societies, such as People Before Profit TCD and Labour TCD. He also noted that they hope to establish a campaign organisation with the help of PANA, to campaign about the problem of US troops in Shannon and for a divestment in Trinity’s endowment fund of military stocks.
Additional reporting by Kate Glen, Jamie Cox, Bella Salerno and Connie Roughan.