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Veteran campaigner detained after attempting to search US plane at Shannon

Edward Horgan, a former UN peacekeeper, was boarding a plane to London when he decided to cross the tarmac and search the US craft.

Image: Niall Carson

Updated at 11.45am

EDWARD HORGAN, THE veteran Shannonwatch peace campaigner, was detained at Shannon Airport after he tried to inspect a US military plane.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie from the airport earlier, he said he had seen four Hercules C-130 aircraft across the tarmac as he boarded a flight to London.

“I had been about to board a flight for Heathrow to attend the AGM of the Veterans for Peace organisation.

“I felt obliged to go and search them as I believed they were carrying munitions to the Middle East.”

He said he was in “no doubt” there were weapons on board the planes, and said that it was “very unusual” to see four of the craft at the facility.

Horgan, who is a former Army commandant and UN peacekeeper, said he was intercepted by a member of the airport police as he attempted to board one of the planes at around 8.30am.

He was released after being held for around an hour.

Gardaí confirmed that a man in his 60s was detained by airport police, and that gardaí at Shannon were later informed of the incident. A file on what happened is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, a spokesperson said.

A Shannon Airport spokesperson confirmed that a man was detained “after diverting from the Heathrow aircraft he was due to board”.

“A member of airport staff swiftly apprehended the man as he strayed from the designated approach to the aircraft steps. He was handed over to An Garda Siochána. The flight departed on schedule.”

Horgan wasn’t actually taken into garda custody this morning. He said he had been treated “with civility” by members of the airport police who intercepted him.

The Government has repeatedly insisted that foreign military planes using Shannon are not allowed to carry weapons. In a recent Dáil answer on the subject, Defence Minister Simon Coveney said that permission for aircraft to land in Ireland was governed by strict conditions.

“These include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form part of military exercises or operations.

“Requests to permit the landing of foreign military aircraft are considered by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade on the basis of these conditions. Permission is not granted for the conduct of foreign military operations in Irish airspace.”

Read: Motorcyclist (32) killed in single-vehicle crash

Read: Left-wingers hoping Irish Water boycott could trigger snap election 

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