Shannon Peace Activists Freed by Judge in Ireland

January 26th, 2023 - by Eimear Dodd and Jessica Magee / Limerick Live & World BEYOND War

Ed Horgan outside courthouse in Dublin, Ireland.

Retired Soldier from Limerick Avoids
Prison Sentence for Shannon Trespass

Eimear Dodd and Jessica Magee / Limerick Live

(January 25, 2023) — Two peace activists who were acquitted of criminal damage charges after they damaged an American naval plane at Shannon Airport have been spared jail for trespassing on a taxiway at the airport.

Retired Irish soldier Edward Horgan (78) and civil servant Dan Dowling (39) were found guilty of trespass at the airport and have been ordered to pay €5,000 each to a women’s refuge in County Clare.

Edward Horgan of Newtown, Castletroy, Limerick and Dan Dowling of Grace Dieu, County Waterford had denied causing criminal damage to a plane at Shannon on April 25, 2017.

During a ten-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, the defendants told a jury that the acts had been carried out from an honestly-held belief that they were necessary to protect others.

The men, who represented themselves, also pleaded not guilty to entering the curtilage of Shannon Airport as trespassers, with the intention to damage property situated therein.

After just under four hours of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts on the charges of trespass, which are summary counts.

Imposing sentence this Wednesday, Judge Martina Baxter praised both accused for their “upstanding character, composure and dignity” at all stages during the trial.

“You are upstanding people, family people; you have behaved with courtesy and dignity throughout,” said Judge Baxter, wishing both men and their families well.

She said there was no issue with the men continuing their monthly peaceful protests, but she warned them that they must be peaceful.

“Your families are better off with you with them,” said Judge Baxter, explaining why she was not imposing a custodial sentence, and added that we were lucky to be living in a democracy.

However, she upbraided Horgan and Dowling for “running across the airport in the dark of night,” saying they had potentially exposed staff at the airport to danger.

“What if a plane had to do an emergency landing? It was a workplace, and you had the potential to cause serious damage in terms of your presence alone,” added Judge Baxter.

She noted that neither of the men have any previous convictions and that they have good work histories and have done volunteer work.

This, she said, had informed her decision to order them to give a token to local charities.

The judge asked the investigating garda to recommend a local charity in County Clare, then ordered both accused to pay €5,000 each to the Clare Haven Refuge for women within the next 12 months.

She emphasised that this was not a fine, but a financial gesture, and further ordered the men to be of good behaviour and keep the peace for 12 months.

Judge Baxter asked the two men whether they accepted the jury verdict and they replied that they did.

It was the State’s case that Dowling and Horgan gained access to a taxiway at Shannon Airport, with the intention of causing damage to aeroplanes parked there, which were the property of the American Navy.

It was alleged that both were involved in writing “Danger, danger, don’t fly” on the planes using markers, after ignoring a request made by Irish Defence Force personnel to stop.

In his closing address to the jury, Dowling said the act of criminal damage was justified to draw attention to a threat to others, which could then be ameliorated or alleviated.

Horgan told the jury that the damage caused had no monetary value and the acts had been carried out from an honestly-held belief that they were necessary to protect others.

Horgan described himself as a “peace activist” who was trying to do what was right.

Talking to reporters after the judgement, Mr Horgan said: “We won’t be celebrating today. We will be commemorating all the children killed in the Middle East – up to one million children – and unfortunately still being killed as we speak.”

The court ordered that Dowling’s triclour be returned to him, along with their list of the names of 1,000 children killed in the Middle East.

During her judgement, Judge Baxter asked Mr Horgan whether he would like to spend more time with his grandchildren, to which he replied that he would.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Horgan said he had eight grandchildren aged between 10 and 20, and that “they’re all beautiful – but I’m slightly biased.”

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers

BACKGROUND: Two US Veterans For Peace Refused Bail,
Charged with Trespassing at Shannon Airport

World BEYOND War

(March 18, 2022) — A group of seven US Veterans for Peace took part in a protest against the US Military Use of Shannon Airport on Sunday March 17th. 

WHY? Shannon is used for refueling troop planes bound for Middle East wars in which up to one million [1,000,000] 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 US 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 10 am, 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:

US Veterans Say
Respect Irish Neutrality
US War Machine Out of Shannon Airport
Veterans For Peace

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.

Contact details:
Ellen Davidson Veterans For Peace USA,