Protesters calling for an end to U.S. military use of Shannon Airport blocked the access road to the airport on April 14, 2024.

Protesters calling for an end to U.S. military use of Shannon Airport blocked the access road to the airport on April 14, 2024. (Shannon Airport/X)

Passengers attempting to catch flights Sunday at an airport in western Ireland were forced to abandon their vehicles and walk to the terminal because of a sit-in by opponents of U.S. support for Israel, according to local media outlets.

About two dozen activists demonstrated on the main N19 route in and out of Shannon Airport for more than an hour starting at about 3 p.m., the Clare Champion reported Sunday.

The airport, in southwestern Ireland’s County Clare, has been used for stopovers and refueling of U.S. military aircraft for decades, the Irish Examiner wrote in August 2021. In 2020 alone, around 75,000 U.S. troops passed through its gates.

About 500 protesters, led by local human rights group Shannonwatch, arrived at the airport’s main entrance around 2 p.m., the Champion said.

“The Irish government must now take action to end U.S. military use of Shannon airport immediately and this must be on a permanent basis,” the group said in a statement.

Police eventually began shuttling passengers and airport staff until protesters dispersed, Clare FM reported Sunday.

No arrests were made, national police spokesman Sean Mac Seoin said in a statement Monday.

After the initial protest broke up around 3 p.m., about two dozen people sat in the road and blocked traffic, the Champion reported. They continued to block access until just before 4:30 p.m., when police removed them.

American usage of the airport came under intense scrutiny in the previous decade after rights groups identified it as a stopover for a CIA rendition program between 2001 and 2006, according to a 2014 report in the Irish Times.

The planes moved al-Qaida suspects between countries with so-called “black sites,” where torture and human rights abuses took place, according to the U.K.-based Rendition Project.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Grafenwoehr, Germany, for Stars and Stripes since 2024. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Okinawa, Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the news organization. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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