Irish President Confronted in New York by Veteran’s Families Over Neutrality Violation

By Ellen Davidson, Stop These Wars. October 6, 2019  | RESIST!

UPDATE: No Movement in Veterans’ Case to Be Allowed to Leave Ireland

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers remain in Ireland with their passports confiscated and no relief in sight. On Sept. 30, the Ennis Circuit Court postponed any decision on their motion to move their case to Dublin, a key requirement for them to be able to get their passports back.

The two members of Veterans For Peace were arrested March 17 for going onto the airfield at Shannon Airport to demand that police inspect a U.S.-military contracted plane believed to be carrying U.S. troops and weapons on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East. These flights, which have been passing through Shannon Airport since 2001, are in violation of Irish neutrality and international law. After being held in jail for nearly two weeks, Mayers and Kauff were released on 2500 euros bail each and forced to surrender their passports. They have been unable to return home for nearly seven months.

New York City – Irish President Michael D. Higgins was on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this morning. He spoke compassionately at length about immigration and migration and refugees. The last caller, who was included because she was calling from Dublin (audio below), asked him why the Irish government allowed the U.S. to violate its neutrality with its military flights through Shannon to the very wars that were creating those refugees. And she also asked about the case of two U.S. military veterans who had been held in Ireland since March after non-violently protesting those flights. While he ducked around the neutrality question, he said that he was “familiar with the case” of the veterans and, although he could not interfere, he would “bring it to Government’s attention.”

President Michael D Higgins was doing an interview with WYNC, during which Ellen Davidson, wife of Tarak Kauff, rang into the show.

Ms Davidson, who lives in Manhattan but is currently based in Dublin, said:

“I understand President Higgins is a big supporter of Irish neutrality so I’m wondering why the Irish Government is allowing US military flights to go through Shannon Airport in violation of that neutrality, bringing troops to the Middle East, to the wars that cause the refugees he’s been talking about.

“And, also, about the case of two US veterans who did a peaceful protest against those flights in March and they’ve been held in Ireland ever since, without their passports, on very minor charges, for a peaceful protest.”

President Higgins responded:

“Yes, I think that your caller will know these are issues, when I was a member of parliament, I spoke and acted very often. I do think that the issue – the two people whose case I am familiar – is a matter for Government and I will draw the attention of Government to it.

“But you’ll appreciate that as president, I cannot interfere in the executive decisions of Government.”

Then, in the afternoon, Ken Mayers’ granddaughter Zaidie Cooper Barnard-Mayers and members of New York City Veterans For Peace spoke with him at an event at the public library. They gave him a brochure about the case, and he said that he was familiar with Tarak and Ken’s peace walk through Ireland. He held Zaidie’s hand while they spoke and, according to VFP NYC President Susan Schnall, really listened. Here is a brief video of Susan and Zaidie by Hideko Otake. Notice how “Mama Lion” Schnall refuses to be put off by Higgins’ handlers, and Hideko similarly doesn’t let them stop her from filming.

Link to article with audio and video of Irish President Michael D. Higgins being confronted in New York.

Posted by Cathal Ó Luain, Celtic League Convenor (8th October 2019)

 

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