Pence meets American troops during refuelling stopover in Shannon

Pence stopover meet-and-greet shows ‘erosion of Irish neutrality’, says SF

US Vice President Mike Pence greeting American troops in Shannon airport. Photograph: Twitter

US Vice President Mike Pence greeting American troops in Shannon airport. Photograph: Twitter

 

US Vice President Mike Pence greeted American soldiers at Shannon Airport on Saturday on his way to the Middle East.

Mr Pence shook hands and posed for photographs with the troops in the airport terminal during a re-fuelling stop by Air Force Two on Saturday morning.

The soldiers were on their way to Kuwait. Mr Pence was travelling to the Middle East with stops in Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also at Shannon Airport on Saturday morning to meet officials about the growth in passenger numbers. However, he did not meet with Mr Pence. It is understood both men were in the airport at different times.

Mr Pence later tweeted about his refuelling stop at Shannon.

He said: “Honoured to see troops based out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado while refuelling in Ireland.

“They are headed to Kuwait for a six-month deployment.”

Sinn Féin’s Aengus O Snodaigh said the meeting “highlights the erosion of Irish neutrality”.

Mr O Snodaigh said the incident “shows how much Irish neutrality has been undermined by successive Irish governments”.

“That the US vice-president could address US soldiers, supposedly on their way to the Middle East, in the civilian airport in Shannon, shows just how much successive Irish governments have undermined Irish neutrality.

“These images are a stark reminder that the civilian Shannon Airport has virtually become a forward base for the US army to carry out military operations and exercises,” he said.

Mr O Snodaigh added: “Sinn Féin has always stated that the US military’s use of Shannon Airport makes a mockery of Irish neutrality and the Irish Government’s supposed commitment to neutrality.”

He said he is to raise the issue with the defence minister next week.

PA