June 25, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 10:00 PM GMT
Protestors of the Galway Alliance Against War stand near the Spanish Arch in central Galway, decrying the use of deadly U.S. and British military hardware as entertainment.
After inflating 99 red balloons in secret, anti-war protesters in Galway gathered Sunday afternoon in a 500-year-old city square to decry the use of fighter jets for entertainment at the popular spectacle known as the Salthill Airshow.
And as it turns out, the protesters were right to argue about the dangers of military hardware as bread and circuses for the masses after the door fell off a British Royal Air Force helicopter more than 80 feet and landed among the crowd of 80,000 and injured three people.
Signs on utility poles around this western Irish enclave directed people to join a protest of the Galway Alliance Against War at noon at the ancient Spanish Arch, part of the old city wall. Once there, 99 red balloons would be released, a kind of tribute to the mid-80s anti-war pop anthem about a balloon launch that some generals mistake for a nuclear assault.
Last year, the Galway Alliance planned a similar protest, but the local police force, known as the Gardai, popped the balloons in the advance, according to one speaker (whose name I failed to obtain because I bumped into the protest by accident and didn't have the requisite note pad and pen).