‘Why I’m protesting against Donald Trump visit’ – Kilkenny anti-war activist
By COLIN BARTLEY
THE President of the United States of America lands in Shannon airport later today, and one Kilkenny man will be there to protest his arrival.
As President Donald Trump and Air Force One come into view, Johnny Keenan and his compatriots in the Shannon peace camp will hope to make an impression on the leader of the free world.
“Protesting is just about all we have left, and it is powerful. People must realise that,” Johnny told KilkennyNow.ie.
But Johnny, a 44-year-old artist facilitator from the city, says the planned protest is not just about Donald Trump, but also the office of the US President.
“This is not just about Donald Trump the man. This is a protest about American foreign policy also. No matter who the President of the United States is, we would be there to protest to show our displeasure of what we see as American imperialism.
“This protest is also against the Irish government and what we view as an attack on Ireland’s neutrality, which contravenes our constitution,” Mr Keenan added.
The idea of peaceful protest became popular in the USA in the late 1960’s, and Johnny says the Peace Camp in Shannon is based on those ideals.
“It’s ironic to think that Woodstock is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. But I was drawn to this method of people power and peaceful protest from that era. But 50 years later the reality it the US has become a global imperialist.”
“It is those exact people who lived through the flower power generation in the States, that have been the people who have formed the polices of their government over the years. Something happened along the way, and we lost a lot of the ideas of that generation,” he said.
Mr Keenan has been actively protesting what he believes is an attack on Irish constitutional neutrality since the global protests in reaction to the war in Iraq, post 9/11.
“I was there on February 15th, 2003 in Dublin when 100,000 people marched. It was a global protest, we felt like we were all part of something. We knew then that the war in Iraq was no more than an invasion.”
“That war has left a legacy that remains today. Over the past 15 years what has happened? Thousands of children murdered, communities destroyed and for what at the end of it all? Was it just for access to oil?”
“The aftermath of that campaign was the terror of ISIS, the Syrian conflict and the war now in Yemen. We are seeing the instability of Venezuela being exploited now also,” he added.
Johnny is traveling to the peace camp in Shannon as he believes that if you want to make change you have to be active.
“To make yourself heard you have to get out there and protest. It’s all good signing online petitions or showing your support for a campaign on social media, but for the point to get across you have to get out there and protest.”
“I grew up loving the culture of America, the music, the literature. I love the can-do attitude of the American dream, but I don’t see that the US government represent any of that for their own people anymore, and that saddens me,” he said.
Johnny (pictured below) will be joined at the Shannon peace camp beside Shannon Airport by members of various groups ranging from environmental groups protesting the US President’s denial of climate change, to groups who want answers as to why the US military have been allowed to move nearly 3,000,000 troops to warzones, through a civilian airport in a supposedly neutral country.
“The US military has over 30 military bases across Europe, you wonder why they have the need to use Shannon?” he asked.
Protesters are hoping to deliver letters to US President Trump and to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is to meet the President at Shannon, calling for an immediate end to the US military use of Shannon, Irish complicity in US military operations, and the environmental destruction of the planet.
Organisers of the anti-Trump protests at Shannon emphasise that the protests will be family friendly and are encouraging people to join them.
The protests begin today at 3pm. The US President is expected to land at Shannon later this evening.