A group of seven US Veterans for Peace took part in a protest against the U.S. military use of Shannon Airport on Sunday 17 March.
Shannon is used for refueling troop planes bound for Middle East wars in which up to one million children have died since 1991.
Two US veterans were arrested at Shannon Airport on 17 March for entering the airfield to inspect and investigate an OMNI Air International plane on contract to the U.S. military. The two, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, were refused bail at Ennis District Court today.
The plane, tail number N351AX, arrived at Shannon Airport about 8.30 a.m. from Eielson US air force base in Faribanks Alaska, believed to be on its way to the Middle East with up to 300 armed US troops.
At about 10am Mayers, a former Marine Corps Major and Kauff, a former Army paratrooper, both members of US Veterans For Peace, entered the airfield carrying a large banner that said:
The two walked across the airfield with the intent of inspecting the plane for weapons or munitions, but were apprehended by airport security and Gardai. There were detained and interviewed at Shannon Garda station and held overnight for arraignment on charges of trespass and criminal damage.
At Ennis District Court this morning Mayers and Kauff were represented by solicitor Darragh Hassett. The prosecution outlined the charges against them and indicated that they were opposed to bail. Garda Sergeant Noel Carroll gave evidence of arrest on Taxiway 12 at Shannon airport. He also stated that there was a US military aircraft at the airport, most likely referring to OMNI Air N351AX. He also confirmed that the defendants were both veterans of the US military. The prosecutor, Inspector Thomas Kennedy, said there had been substantial damage to the airport perimeter fence.
When the bail issue was being discussed Solicitor Hassett initially stated that the defendants were prepared to agree to bail conditions that involved surrendering their passports, and remaining in Ireland for the duration of the legal processes. This was an unacceptable condition as it would mean that the defendants would have to remain in Ireland at their own expense for up to two years before the trial would occur, and this restriction amounts to punishment without trial.
The defendants then requested an adjournment to discuss matters with their solicitor.
After the court resumed, Hassett emphasized that the defendants needed to return home to the USA and would sign a sworn undertaking to return for trial. The prosecution opposed this and continued to oppose the granting of any bail.
Judge Maire Keane then ruled that she was denying bail to the accused and remanded them in custody to Limerick Prison, where they are to appear for a further court mention hearing by video from the prison on Wednesday 20 March.
Further discussions were then held with Solicitor Hassett. He raised the option of appealing the bail refusal to the High Court in Dublin and he was told to lodge such an appeal. He indicated that it would likely be Thursday 28 March before this High Court appeal would be heard.
Ed Horgan, coordinator of Irish Veterans For Peace, said: "This process is a clear attempt to punish the two VFP activists before any trial takes place. We are calling on all peace and human rights activists in Ireland and internationally to campaign not only on behalf of Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, but, more important, on behalf of all the innocent people being killed and injured by US illegal wars."
Major Ken Mayers served 12 years in the US Marine Corps. He is a former National Board member of Veterans For Peace and participate in veterans peace team delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, Jeju Island, South Korea, and Standing Rock.
Tarak Kauff was a paratrooper in the US Army during the early sixties. He was a member of the VFP National Board of Directors for six years. He has organized veterans delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, South Korea, and Standing Rock. He is currently the managing editor of Peace In Our Times, VFP's quarterly 24-page newspaper.