Slain general Suleimani was Iran’s Michael Collins, says Iranian ambassador

Shannon Airport, Trump’s Doonbeg will not be targeted, Tehran’s envoy tells journalists

Iran's ambassador to Ireland has ruled out Shannon Airport or Donald Trump's golf resort in Co Clare becoming potential targets for Iran in any military escalation with the United States.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Masoud Eslami likened the top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, killed by the United States on January 3rd, to revolutionary Michael Collins when trying to describe "the pain and sorrow" that Iranians feel about the slain Iranian general.

“I may refer to the kind of feeling and respect that the people of Ireland have towards general Michael Collins as a legendary icon of resistance and bravery who devoted his life to fight against foreign domination and foreign-sponsored terrorism,” he said.

On the question of whether Shannon could be targeted by Iran in response to US military action against Tehran, Mr Eslami said: “I would rule that out for the time being. This is a very far speculation. We are very far from such a situation.”


Mr Eslami called on the Irish Government to reconsider Shannon Airport being used by American troops transiting through Ireland as they travel between the United States and the country's military bases in the Middle East.

“In principle, we would ask the authorities to reconsider the use of Shannon Airport to facilitate military action by the US, which has been an issue at the local level, at the national level in Ireland,” the diplomat told reporters at the Iran’s embassy in south Dublin.

Asked to elaborate on what other similarities there were between Gen Suleimani and Collins, the ambassador said both had fought for the interests of their people and taken chances and risks.

“They have devoted their life, and they have been icons of resistance and bravery in repelling the foreign intervention, which undermined their security, their prosperity. There are a lot of similarities that should be drawn upon,” said Mr Eslami.

He urged the Government to help ease tensions between the US and Iran following the US killing of Gen Suleimani.

“We would like to see positive gestures from the Irish Government to anything that they consider to contribute to deescalation,” he said.

Iran’s military would direct any response against the US in retaliation over the Trump administration’s killing of Gen Suleimani to the Middle East and the region around Iran where it could be vulnerable to military assaults by the US, the envoy said.

Attacking Mr Trump’s private property interests in Ireland or Shannon Airport over its use by US troops was “not in the interest of Iran,” Mr Eslami said.

“I can assure you targeting personal properties of Trump or places like Shannon Airport are not considered to be targeted in Iran’s retaliations or measures that are going to be taken against the deliberate attacks by the United States,” Mr Eslami told reporters.

The ambassador played down concerns that Mr Trump's personal properties could be targeted after Hesameddin Ashena, a top adviser to Iran's president, posted a link to a Forbes magazine article listing the US president's properties around the world, including in Ireland, after Gen Suleimani's killing.

He dismissed reports that Mr Ashena’s tweet carried an implied threat against the properties.

“I described this as a baseless fable. This is something absolutely not true. Absolutely, categorically. The tweet is there but a fable has been made out of it by media,” he said.

“It has not been intended to do so to this effect, to threaten personal properties of Trump anywhere, and it is definitely not going to be the case in Ireland.”

The envoy said that he did not think it would be warranted for the Irish Government to follow the UK by warning citizens not to travel to Iran.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned travellers to Iran to maintain a “high degree of caution” - a level below telling Irish people to “avoid all non-essential travel.”

It has urged Irish citizens in Iran to remain vigilant, avoid all demonstrations and protests across Iran, and refrain from photographing or videoing them. It has said foreign nationals visiting or living in Iran could be targeted, detained or arrested at such events.

Mr Eslami said that there was no reason for Irish citizens to be worried about their safety in Iran in light of the tensions with the United States.

“They will be definitely safe in the country. This resentment and this anger of our people are not by any means directed at ordinary people of any country, particularly when it comes to a friendly country like Ireland, and Irish tourists are going routinely to Iran,” he said

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times