Photo: Galway City Mayor Councillor Tom Costello addressing the Anti-Salthill Airshow protest in Summer 2007
Over the last few months Michael Crowe, an auctioneer and former independent councillor who recently joined Fianna Fáil, has taken it upon himself to try and relaunch the controversial Salthill Airshow famed for its display of US military airplanes. In so doing , he has launched a series of blistering attacks on the Galway Alliance Against War(GAAW) condemning its members as a bunch of 'lunatics' and professional complainers who have never really done anything constructive in their lives.
I got fed up with hearing and reading these lies and standard cliches being made against individuals whom I have admired for their idealistic committment to others but who have also contributed in their professional lives to greatly enhancing the image of Galway. So I decided to put the record straight by submitting the following letter to the 'Galway Advertiser' prior to Christmas:
I was saddened at the comments made by Councillor Michael Crowe in last week’s Galway Advertiser when he disparagingly condemned the anti-war movement as nothing more than a “…rent-a-crowd brigade… who if they don’t like which way the sun comes up stick up a few posters…go out protesting…”
He then asks what have these people “…ever done for the city?…”
Well outside the important element of having the moral courage to increase public awareness about the glorification by the Salthill Air Show of war machines and an air force that has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in illegal wars over the last few decades, quite a lot really.
For example, the literary works of Rita Ann Higgins and Fred Johnston are respected worldwide and their efforts have helped establish our city as a mecca for creative writing. Author and broadcaster Padraic Breathnach co-founded Macnas which, with his many other pioneering endeavours over the last thirty years, earned Galway the accolade of being the nation’s cultural capital. Other seasoned locally-based American pacifist campaigners such as technologist Doug Foxvoug and stain-glass designer Richard Kimball are recognised globally as experts in their own career areas who have greatly benefited their adopted homeland and its citizenry.
It will be a long time before people such as Councillor Crowe or myself come anywhere close to enhancing the reputation of the city as these visionary luminaries have done.
It is also very strange to condemn these peace activists as ‘lunatics’. Especially at this time of year when we celebrate the Christmas message of ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all men’.
Finally, I would ask the Michael to familiarise himself with the history of the political party that he has recently joined. Its founder Eamon DeValera would never agree with the councillor’s recommendation to campaigners that they should “…make their views known…and (then) leave it…”. Dev was a committed international campaigner against injustice, who never gave up the struggle and warned against small nations being sucked into imperial wars of aggression that were disingenuously portrayed by their protagonists as crusades for freedom and democracy.
Check out my previous postings on the Salthill Airshow:
Galway Businesses Glorify Terrorist Bombers
Sights & Sounds of US Bombers Re-awaken Fears in Galway