Two American military veterans, one aged 82 and the other 77, were remanded behind bars following their arrests during a St. Patrick’s Day anti-war protest at Shannon Airport
Judge Marie Keane was told at a special sitting of Ennis District Court on Monday that the Sunday morning demo included a 45-minute incident involving Ken Mayers, 82, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Tarak Kauff, 77, of Woodstock, New York.
The judge refused bail and remanded Mayers and Kauff in custody prior to another appearance in court on Wednesday.
She said the two face “very serious charges.”
She added, “I have to take into account the two traveled to Ireland less than one week ago and have been apprehended relating to an alleged breach of security at an international airport.”
Keane said that she noted that the two men have exemplary records and are veterans of the U.S. defense forces.
The two are charged with causing €2,500 worth of criminal damage to the airport perimeter fence at Shannon and unlawful trespass into a taxi-way at the airport on March 17.
Garda Noel Carroll, who arrested the men, told the court that Kauff replied “not guilty” when charged and Mayers made no reply.
He said it would be alleged the two were spotted crossing a runway at Shannon on their way to inspect a military aircraft after 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.
He added that a cutter and gloves were found at a large hole in the airport security fence.
Prosecuting Inspector Tom Kennedy expressed concerns that if both men were granted bail they would leave Ireland for the U.S. and not be answerable to the charges before the court.
But defending solicitor Daragh Hassett said his clients assured him that they were “men of honor” who had served in the U.S. defense forces and would return to Ireland for their cases.
Before the court appearance, the two were reported to be part of a group called U.S. Veterans for Peace visiting Ireland giving talks and highlighting their opposition to the use of Shannon Airport as a refueling stop for U.S. military flights on their way to the Middle East.
A spokesman for ShannonWatch, a group which monitors U.S. military aircraft movements at Shannon, confirmed that Mayers served 12 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and Kauff was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army during the early 1960s.
Irish Veterans for Peace spokesman Edward Horgan said, “The Irish government continually say we are a neutral country but under the international oath of neutrality we must not allow troops and munitions to pass through our territory on their way to war.”