Fianna Fáil Minister of State, Mary Hanafin, has reiterated the Government's position in relation to allowing US aircraft to fly over and land in Shannon.

Ms Hanafin, TD for Dún Laoghaire, stated that the Government was not in favour of war but had to look at the big picture.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, she said that international issues, including war, are not black-and-white issues. She added that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Government had to ensure that they had the best interests of the country at heart.

She went on to say that 'even our neutrality is not something that is set down in black and white.

'That, too, is something that developed over the last number of years but neutrality does not equate with indifference, it does not mean that we can just step aside and take no hand, act or part in anything.'

Last week, the Dáil voted to accept a Government motion which endorsed continuing to grant overflight and landing rights in Ireland to US military and civilian aircraft. The vote was carried by 77 votes to 60.

Meanwhile, a number of peace activists who started a peace walk from Galway to Shannon last Friday and who arrived at Shannon this afternoon, were prevented by Gardaí from walking up to the airport terminal building.

A number of activists have set up a small peace camp in an area close to Shannon's industrial estate.