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In March 1987, taoiseach Charles Haughey was making the annual visit to the US linked to St Patrick’s Day. A background briefing note on various aspects of bilateral relations contained a section on “overflights by US military aircraft”.
According to the note, there were 3,800 such flights every year at the time, based on a “general permission” granted by the Irish government in 1959, provided the aircraft “were unarmed”.
“When it was drawn to the attention of the US Embassy last year that they (among other embassies) were not fully complying with the requirements of the Chicago Convention or of the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order, 1952 – especially the provision that ‘no foreign military aircraft shall fly over or land in the State save on the express permission invitation or with the express permission of the Minister’ – they agreed to apply for permission for each flight in advance and have been doing so since June, 1986.
“However, Ambassador [Margaret] Heckler has let us know that they find the present arrangement to be a burden from an administrative point of view.”