Shannonwatch are shocked at the imposition of a €10,000 fine on peace activists Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers for taking a peaceful action against the US military use of Shannon Airport. Despite being acquitted on two charges of criminal damage and trespass, they were still found guilty of interfering with the operation, management or safety of the airport.
The trial of the Shannon Two got off to a faster than expected start on Monday, moving through jury empanelment and the prosecution’s opening four witnesses.
The two, Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, were arrested March 17, 2019, at Shannon Airport for going onto the airfield to inspect U.S. military planes at the facility. They carried a banner that said, “U.S. Military Veterans Say: Respect Irish Neutrality; U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon.” Millions of U.S. troops have been moved through Shannon Airport since 2001 on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East, in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. Kauff and Mayers were attempting to either inspect the planes or to get Irish authorities to do so, but they were instead arrested.
On Sunday March 13th the Shannonwatch peace vigil at the entrance to Shannon Airport called for Russia to cease its invasion of Ukraine, for the US military to leave Shannon Airport, and for every effort to be made by the Irish government to invest in making peace not war. At the time of the vigil, there was a US troop carrier at the airport. It had been refuelled at Shannon earlier in the day on its way to Poland, and was on its way back the USA possibly to collect more armed US soldiers.
Shannonwatch condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and expresses its solidarity with the innocent civilian population now suffering as a result. The invasion is a gross breach of international laws and a huge tragedy for the people of Ukraine. We urge the Irish government and others to seek diplomatic resolution to the war, and not to support a dangerous or provocative NATO response to Russia’s actions.
On Thursday November 4th as we approach Remembrance Day Ireland’s Raging Grannies will gather outside the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to demand that the Minister, Eamon Ryan, stop authorising the daily transit of weapons through Shannon Airport by the US military. They are asking the public to join their colourful protest at the department in 2 Leeson Lane, Dublin from 1.30 pm.
Shannonwatch welcomes calls for Ireland to do more to resettle and provide international protection for people fleeing from Afghanistan. It also calls on the government to urgently assess its role in creating the conditions leading to the current catastrophic situation there. In particular, there is an urgent need to assess and end the use of Shannon Airport by the US military, in light of what the twenty-year occupation of Afghanistan has led to.
“Ireland has been complicit in the US led twenty-year war against Afghanistan by not only allowing US military to use Shannon Airport but by inviting the US Government to do so” said Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan. “Even if we had never been a neutral country we should not allow any military forces to use Irish territory to wage illegal and unjustified wars. The US military use of Shannon should be ended immediately as the USA is still engaged in unjustified military actions in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.”
On Wednesday July 7th Ireland’s Raging Grannies will gather outside the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to demand that the Minister, Eamon Ryan, stop authorising the daily transit of weapons through Shannon Airport by the US military. They are asking the public to join their colourful protest at the department in Leeson St, Dublin from 12 noon onwards.
The Raging Grannies also plan to make themselves heard at the Department of Foreign Affairs which is authorising the use of Shannon by other US military planes.
The peace and human rights group Shannonwatch have called on the Irish government to avoid using the US military to help keep Shannon Airport open as it struggles to remain viable. In light of the recent Aer Lingus announcement that it was closing its passenger operations at Shannon, Shannonwatch call for a development strategy for the airport that does not include a reliance on the transit of foreign troops and their weapons to keep it open.
Shannonwatch call on the Irish government to explain why troops landing at Shannon on US military and military contracted flights were repeatedly allowed to overnight at local hotels over the last three weeks, despite restrictions on travel in the interests of public health.
On Jan 25th, passengers and crew from a US Navy plane that landed at Shannon were permitted to stay at a Limerick hotel. On Jan 28th, 226 troops from an Omni Air International plane stayed overnight in a number of Limerick hotels. Yet despite the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney saying the US authorities had assured him it would not happen again, it did. On February 8th a US Air Force Special Operations Command Dornier C-140A aircraft spent over 17 hours at Shannon and both crew members and passengers accommodated overnight in a local hotel.
At Dublin Circuit Court today a jury of twelve Irish citizens acquitted peace activists Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan of the charge of alleged criminal damage at Shannon airport over four and a half years ago. The trial by Jury was presided over by Judge Karen O’Connor found both defendants not guilty. They entered Shannon airport on the morning of 25th May 2016 to search and investigate US military aircraft that were being refuelled on their way to and from US wars of aggression. There were two US Air Force aircraft at Shannon at the time of the incident.