Independent TD’s Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have claimed they breached security at Shannon Airport yesterday (Tuesday) because former Minister Alan Shatter “challenged” them to do so.
The pair have said the former Minister told them to “produce the evidence” that US military aircraft using Shannon are breaching Irish and international law.
Wallace and Daly used a rope ladder to scale a security fence at the airport so that they could search two US military aircraft that were parked, under armed guard, on a remote taxiway.
Ms Daly sustained minor facial injuries after she fell while attempting to scale the fence. She suffered cut to her face, lips and hands but didn’t require medical attention.
The pair got within 100m of a Hercules C130 transport plane and a C40 jet, a military variation of the popular Boeing 737. The planes we parked on a taxiway designated for and regularly used by the US military and where they are protected by Irish Army personnel.
Airport police officers managed to intercept the pair before they reach the aircraft and despite requests from the TD’s to continue on and search the planes, they were detained and taken to the terminal and handed over to gardaí.
The pair were arrested and taken to Shannon Garda station where they were questioned for a time but released later without charge.
Speaking following his release Mick Wallace said: “We’ve been raising the issue of US military use of Shannon for the last three years in the Dáil. We’ve been asking the Irish government to search these planes and prove they are not carrying weapons or munitions because there are strong suspicions that they are.”
“All our calls have fallen on deaf ears but former Minister Alan Shatter told us if we could provide the evidence the government would do something and that’s what we’re trying to do and that’s why we tried to reach these two planes,” he added.
“The government keeps saying there’s no need to search the planes because the US has given Ireland assurances that there’s nothing on board. That’s not good enough for us and shouldn’t be good enough for the Irish people,” he added.
Mr Wallace added that he didn’t know what action the authority’s will take in relation to the incident but said they were treated well by gardaí.
Clare Daly said: “We’ve consistently raised this issue but we’ve gotten nowhere. Alan Shatter basically challenged us to produce the evidence and that’s what we’ve tried to do. He said he’d do something if we produced the evidence.”
“Last year 630 US military aircraft either passed through Irish airspace or landed in Shannon. You wouldn’t have this kind of movement of aircraft without them being involved in some military activity.
If the Irish government is going to sit back and accept the so called assurances of the US government that these planes are not involved in such activity and are not carrying weapons, we’re going to have to find the evidence ourselves and thats what we want to do,” Ms Daly added.
A Garda spokesman confirmed that the pair had been released without charge but that their investigation is ongoing.