A US military aircraft that made an emergency landing at Shannon last month did not have permission to land here.
The US Embassy was granted permission by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a C-130 Hercules transport plane to land at Shannon on February 28th.
However, the plane that landed on the day was an electronic warfare aircraft for which permission had not been granted.
The crew of the EC-130H ‘Compass Call’ had declared an emergency after suffering a problem with one of the aircraft’s four engines.
The plane is a variant of the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules turbo-prop transport plane and operates in an airborne tactical weapon system role to disrupt enemy command and control communications and limit adversary coordination.
Shannon Airport’s emergency plan was implemented while units of the fire brigade from Shannon and Ennis along with ambulances from Limerick and Ennis were also sent to the airport.
Independent TD for Dublin North Deputy Clare Daly had raised several questions with the Minister Charlie Flanagan in relation to the landing.
Ms Daly, along with Dáil colleague Mick Wallace, are currently on trial at Ennis District Court for allegedly entering a restricted area at Shannon Airport last year.
The Minister has confirmed to Deputy Daly that permission was granted by his Department for the landing of a US C130 military aircraft at Shannon Airport “in accordance with standard conditions which apply to the landing of all foreign military aircraft.”
“These included stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations,” the Minister told Ms Daly.
However, the timeframe of this permission elapsed and a new request was made by the US Embassy on February 28th.
Minister Flanagan said: “The Embassy confirmed that the only changes from the original request were the date and time of landing and the duration of the stopover. Permission was granted on this basis and under the aforementioned conditions.”
“The Department was subsequently informed that the aircraft that landed was a variant of the aircraft type for which permission had been sought and granted. The aircraft which landed was an EC-130H,” the Minister said.
“Assurances that the EC130H was unarmed, carried no arms, ammunition or explosives, was not engaged in intelligence gathering, and did not form part of military exercises or operations were re-confirmed by the Embassy,” Minister Flanagan has told Deputy Daly.
The Minister added however: “The circumstances surrounding this landing are such that I have asked my officials to pursue the matter with the US Embassy.”