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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Fury at airport bomb flights role
A US guided bomb unit (left) and a Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile
Guided bomb units were carried on two transport planes
Residents and politicians in Ayrshire have voiced anger after the US used Prestwick Airport as a stopover while transporting bombs to Israel.

Community councils in the town demanded answers and said they intend to write to the Foreign Office and US Government expressing their concerns.

Community chairperson Archie Monkhouse said: "We don't want aircraft and armoury flying in built-up areas."

MSPs and MPs called for a halt to further US arms shipments.

Brian Donohoe, MP for Central Ayrshire, called for an "urgent meeting" with Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett MP.

He said: "Having made representations in the past to have more military flights using Prestwick Airport, it would be duplicitous of me to call for any end to military flights.

"However, if the United States is not carrying out procedures correctly, then this must be looked into."

He added: "I believe the government needs to take a tougher stance with Israel."

'Accessory to violence'

Alex Salmond MP, leader of the Scottish National Party, said: "The UK should be joining the rest of the world in bringing about such a ceasefire.

Rosie Kane
All that should fly through airports is medicine, food and diplomacy
Rosie Kane MSP
Scottish Socialist Party

"We should not be an accessory to the escalation of violence in the Middle East."

He described the silence from the executive as "deafening".

Sandra Osbourne, Labour MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, highlighted an earlier controversy over reports that the airport had been used for US rendition flights.

She said: "This is further unwelcome publicity for Prestwick Airport.

"I don't think locally we'd welcome Prestwick Airport being used as America's aircraft carrier."

John Scott, Conservative MSP for Ayr, said he was "extremely concerned".

He added: "I don't believe we should be sustaining the conflict by allowing ordinance of this nature to go through Prestwick when it is apparently bringing such destruction to both sides of the conflict."

Mr Scott's colleague and fellow Conservative South of Scotland MSP, Phil Gallie, said Prestwick Airport existed to provide a service.

He added: "It is quite entitled to continue providing a service."

'Peaceful solutions'

Irene Oldfather, Labour MSP for Cunninghame South, said: "Prestwick is a civil airport used by thousands of civilians each day and I certainly do not think it is appropriate for such an airport to be used for this purpose."

Rosie Kane, Scottish Socialist Party MSP for Glasgow, said Prestwick's geographical position was being "used and abused".

She said: "Blair and Bush have been complicit in their silence and are arming a disproportionate attack on, for the most part, innocent people.

"The executive better stick their neck out and have something to say.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport

"All that should fly through airports is medicine, food and diplomacy."

Green MSPs called for the Scottish Executive, UK Government and Prestwick Airport authorities to prevent further use of the airport by US flights carrying arms to Israel.

Chris Ballance, Green MSP for South of Scotland and speaker on peace, said: "Scotland should be working for peaceful solutions in the Middle East, not facilitating this brutal conflict.

"First Minister Jack McConnell has a chance to send the strong and unequivocal message that Scotland deplores the violence in the Middle East and will play no part in fuelling it."

In Prestwick, local people expressed their surprise and anger that military flights had passed so close to their homes.

Pat Robertson, chair of Prestwick North community council, said: "Personally, I think they have a confounded cheek.

'Kept informed'

"I don't think these things should be near houses, they should've gone to a military airport.

"It is a safety issue and I'll be looking at why this happened."

Mr Monkhouse, chair of Prestwick South community council, said: "The general view is we were not impressed and not pleased.

"We intend to write to the Foreign Office and the Americans expressing our concerns.

"It makes us a target. They have to refuel someplace but why here?

"We don't want these aircraft and armoury flying about in built up areas."

A spokesman for First Minister Jack McConnell said: "Aviation and foreign affairs are both areas which are the reserved responsibility of the UK Government.

"It is entirely appropriate these matters are being handled by the foreign secretary.

"The first minister is pleased that Margaret Beckett is looking into this matter and he is being kept informed by his officials."


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