The use of Shannon Airport for a "military photo-op" with US troops at Shannon airport by the US Vice-President Mike Pence, has been criticised in Seanad Éireann.

Mr Pence was in Shannon at the weekend on his way to visit to the Israeli parliament, where he announced yesterday that the US will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year.

Independent Senator Alice Mary Higgins said that she was shocked when she saw the the "military photo-op".

She said that it raised a number of concerns and that there were ongoing concerns around the use of Shannon Airport for military transfer.  

She told the Seanad: "The fact that this was a military photo-opp for another country, for another administration, taking place on Irish soil, with troops who are taking part in actions far outside our Irish triple lock and the normal UN conventions."

"It was also concerning because it was being used at a divisive time in Irish politics and that the messages being sent out by the political figures were being used as a source of division during the shutdown in American politics."

Senator Higgins also said: "They were also concerning because the mission Vice President Pence was on, is a mission so far away from the triple lock, not a mission in any ways related to any kind of UN standard but a mission to promote the active disregard of UN resolutions.

"It was his mission to travel and promote the opening of an Embassy in Jerusalem."

Senator Higgins said that she would like to know if the Irish Government aware of it and "what were the decisions made around allowing such a media opportunity take place in Ireland, on Irish soil?"

She said "this points to the slow erosion of neutrality ... we are keeping the word but chipping away at it."

Responding to Senator Higgins' criticism, Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer said: "I don't share Vice President Pence's views on many things but I don't think he was being deliberately provocative in using the opportunity to speak with troops who are going to Kuwait.

"He himself was on a three country visit and I do think it is important to keep our neutrality and I certainly wouldn't want to see a chipping away of that."