Use of Shannon puts Ireland in line of fire, says Jesse Jackson


The use of Shannon Airport by US military aircraft on their way to Iraq puts Ireland "in the line of fire" from terrorist organisations, US civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson said in Dublin last night.

While it was "to the good" that the Government did not overtly support the invasion of Iraq and favoured "the UN route", the Republic was still "indirectly" participating in the war, Rev Jackson said after a Literary and Historical Society meeting at University College Dublin.

"I try to be sensitive to the delicate situation that Ireland is in.

"Number one, it does not endorse the war, it has no troops in the war. Ireland chose the UN route rather than the US/Britain route (in the build up to war). That was a strong position.

"On the other hand Ireland is now very strong economically and there may be a feeling that some of the big, strong international companies play hardball . . . they move on countries, they move on companies. So I sense Ireland is trying to balance that.

"These economic pressures may have been the reason the Irish Government allowed US war planes to land here.

"I understand the tight-rope the Taoiseach is walking. But in this global terrorism that fact that Shannon is being used does put Ireland in the line of fire," he told The Irish Times.

While the US and Britain and chose to go into Iraq alone, without UN sanction, both countries "cannot get out alone". "(They) need the help of the world family. Iraq and the war cannot be isolated, it affects us all. Ireland's leadership in the EU and UN is critical."