Irish government complicity in US war crimes

There was a time when Irish juries would acquit protesters against Irish complicity in US war crimes. Take for example the Pitstop Ploughshares group that disarmed a US warplane t Shannon near Dublin in 2003. They were eventually acquitted. But it seems no more. See the following account from and Shannonwatch about the latest penalties delivered civil disobedience at the airport. Ian Curr, Ed., 5 May 2022.

This peace action by Kauff and Mayers is a small but significant step towards getting some accountability for war crimes by the US and other countries, including recent Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The world and humanity are now on the brink of World War 3 combined with catastrophic climate change, partly caused by militarism and resource wars. Peace by peaceful means was never more urgent.” said Edward Horgan.

TWO US ARMY veterans in their 80s have been convicted of interfering with the operation of Shannon Airport as part of an anti-war protest three years ago.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court acquitted Ken Mayers (85) and Tarak Kauff (80) of criminal damage to an airport perimeter fence and of trespassing the airport with the intent to commit an offence or interfere with property.

The verdicts came in this afternoon after just over five-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

The jury returned a majority verdict of guilty on the charge of interfering with the operation, safety or management of an airport by entering the runway area and causing the airport to close. The majority verdict was 10 to two, the court heard.

After the verdicts were handed down, defence counsel asked that the men be allowed to return to the US and come back in a fortnight for sentence. This was opposed by the prosecution.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted the men had been found guilty of a serious charge. “They have lost the presumption of innocence,” she said.

She ordered that they return their passports and she set a sentence date for tomorrow.

The five-day trial heard that at around 10am on St Patricks Day 2019 the two men cut a hole in the airport perimeter fence with a pair of bolt cutters – causing damage to the value of €590 – before walking on to airport lands.

They were met on a taxiway by an airport officer after staff were alerted to a security breach. When asked what they were doing, the pair said they were peace protesters who were there to inspect US military aircraft. They had a folded-up banner with them.

The airport was shut down for about 40 minutes, the trial heard, with two planes delayed in departing and one cargo plane forced to stay in the air until given the all-clear.

The court heard both men served in the United States military before becoming anti-war activists in the 1960s. They are members of a US-based group called Veterans for Peace.

From the outset, they both admitted cutting the hole in the fence and entering the airport lands.

Giving evidence to the jury, they said they did so to protest against the United States’ military use of Shannon as a stop-over en route to places such as the Middle East.

Mayers, of Monte Alte Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Kauff, of Arnold Drive, Woodstock, New York had both pleaded not guilty to trespass, criminal damage and interfering with the operation, safety or management of Shannon Airport on 17 March 2019.

The atmosphere in the trial was at times congenial, with every airport official and garda who dealt with the men describing them as courteous and respectful. Airport and fire officer Richard Moloney said they were “the nicest and most courteous” protesters he had ever met in his 19 years at Shannon Airport.

In turn, Mayers and Kauff praised the officials they dealt with for their respect and professionalism, saying they had never been treated better in their years of protesting.

The two pensioners spent 13 days in Limerick Prison in 2019, after bail was denied in the District Court amid garda fears they would flee the jurisdiction. This was overturned in the High Court, but they remained in Ireland for a further nine months until their passports were returned. They returned from the US to stand trial in Dublin.

At the heart of the defence case in relation to the criminal damage charge was the assertion that the accused men held an honestly-held belief that their action in cutting the fence was justified in order to protect other persons.

The jury was told it was not necessary for this belief to be justified, but that the belief had to be honestly held. In her directions, Judge Patricia Ryan told the jury it was being asked to get into the minds of the two accused.

In his closing speech, Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, acknowledged the jury might have sympathy for the two defendants.

“They are sincere and honourable persons,” he said. “That can’t be disputed and is not disputed.”

However, McGillicuddy said the jury must put sympathy aside and have regard to the law in the case.

The prosecution case was that the men did not have any lawful excuse to damage the perimeter fence. He said there was no evidence there were any munitions on board the plane. He said there was no evidence in relation to there being a need to protect any persons.

“They were there for education purposes and the education of law enforcement personnel,” McGillicuddy said. He said they were “making a political statement, drawing attention to matters, highlighting matters”.

“That may be very understandable but it is not a lawful excuse under the Criminal Damage Act,” he said.

In relation to the charge of interfering with the operation, safety and management of an airport, McGillicuddy submitted that the men’s presence on the taxiway at Shannon Airport caused the closure of the airport.

In relation to the charge of trespassing with intent to cause damage or interfere with property, the prosecution case was that the men had admitted to entering the airport grounds and had told officials that they were there to inspect a plane.

Michael Hourigan BL, defending Mayers, told the jury that the men were not engaged in some kind of “political posturing”, but had an honestly-held belief that the actions they did on that day could save lives.



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.

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers

“This exceptionally punitive sentence is a move clearly aimed at discouraging peaceful objection to Ireland’s complicity in war” said Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan. “By imposing such a heavy fine at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday 4th May, Judge Patricia Ryan has effectively disregarded the lawful excuse Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers had for entering the airport in March 2019, and sent a strong message that opposition to the war industry will not be tolerated. The Veterans for Peace sole aim was to end the cycles of killing that Ireland is complicit in, despite its claims to be neutral.”

Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff were arrested on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, at Shannon Airport for going onto the airfield to inspect U.S. military aircraft or cause them to be inspected. They carried a banner that said, “U.S. Military Veterans Say: Respect Irish Neutrality; U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon.” Over three million armed U.S. troops have passed through the airport since 2001 on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East, in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. Kauff and Mayers felt obliged to address the fact that the Irish authorities have to date refused to inspect the planes or to provide any information about what is on them.

There were three aircraft associated with the US military at Shannon at the time. These were a Marine Corps Cessna jet, a US Air Force Transport C40 aircraft, and an Omni Air International aircraft on contract to the U.S. military.

The defendants, who are U.S. military veterans and members of Veterans for Peace, have already spent 13 days in Limerick Prison in 2019 as a result of this peace action. Subsequent to that, their passports were confiscated, forcing them to spend a further eight months in Ireland.

The case was moved up from District to Circuit Court, where a jury trial was required, and  from County Clare, where the airport is located, to Dublin.

Kauff and Mayers are clear that their action was aimed at ending the devastation of war.

“Our purpose was in our own way, to put the government and the U.S. military on trial for killing people, destroying the environment, and betraying the Irish people’s concept of their own neutrality,” said Kauff. “U.S. war-making is literally destroying this planet, and I don’t want to be silent about it.”

Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch said “No senior US political or military US leaders have ever been held accountable for war crimes committed in these Middle East wars, and no Irish officials have been held accountable for active complicity in these war crimes. Yet over 38 peace activists, including Mayers and Kauff, have been prosecuted for carrying out fully justified nonviolent peace actions at Shannon Airport in order to expose and try to prevent Irish complicity in these war crimes.”

Shannonwatch also note that in the course of the trial, not a single Gardai or airport security officer could point to a US military plane having ever been inspected for weapons while at the airport. Indeed, John Francis, chief of security at Shannon testified that he “wouldn’t be aware” if weapons or munitions were moving through the facility.

US warplanes were still being refuelled at Shannon Airport while the trial was taking place.

“This peace action by Kauff and Mayers is a small but significant step towards getting some accountability for war crimes by the US and other countries, including recent Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The world and humanity are now on the brink of World War 3 combined with catastrophic climate change, partly caused by militarism and resource wars. Peace by peaceful means was never more urgent.” said Edward Horgan.

For interview, please phone 085 8519623 or email For more information see

Pitstop Ploughshares being acquitted of damaging US warplane at Shannon airport.

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