Veterans for Peace Tarak Kauff & Ken Mayers RFÉ 30 March 2019

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Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5 Pacifica Radio
New York City

John McDonagh and Malachy McCourt speak to two US veterans, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, via cell phone from a street corner in Ireland. The vets are both members of Veterans for Peace and were arrested on Saint Patrick’s Day at Shannon Airport for attempting to inspect a US Omni plane. (begins time stamp ~ 02:34)

John:   Now, on today’s show, if you’ve been listening to WBAI every Wednesday and Saturday, we’ve been following the case of two American citizens, both of them United States veterans, and they’re with the group, Veterans for Peace, of which I am a member. They were arrested at Shannon Airport when the went on the tarmac there to inspect a US military plane to see if it was carrying munitions and weapons on that so they were charged with trespassing even though Ireland claims to be a neutral country it’s really – Shannon Airport’s become a military base for the United States where millions of US troops come through Shannon on their way to invade countries in the Middle East. And on today’s show, and we’ve been covering it, we’re going to have on Tarak Kauff, he’s from Woodstock, New York, seventy-seven years old and eighty-three year old Ken Mayers, a major, retired major from the United States Marines. They just got bail yesterday in Dublin at two thousand five hundred euros.

Tarak Kauff & Ken Mayers
Photo: Ellen Davidson
Source: Veterans for Peace

Now there hasn’t been that much coverage of their plight. Now had these two American citizens that are from US military, the Army and the Marines, had been arrested in North Korea, Iran, Russia or Venezuela – you might have heard about them. But No! They were arrested in the Emerald Isle – Oh! You know, why would they be arrested there? And how come there was no, as they say, kerfuffle about them being arrested? But I don’t know if I have Ken or is it Tarak on the line? Who’s on the line?

Ken:  You have Ken and you have Tarak.

John:   Oh, Tarak. Well listen, it’s great that you both got out of Limerick Prison there yesterday for a bail of two thousand five hundred. I believe your passports were taken away. But I want to give some background. Why were you over in Ireland? And how did the arrest come about?

Ken:  Well, we were there because we recognise the insanity of our military adventures abroad and the Irish, with their long history of neutrality, should be allowing us to use a civilian airport as if it were a military airbase for transferring these troops and weapons was just outrageous, you know? And as former military we’ve seen what the United States does around the world and we hate to see the Irish succumbing to American pressures to be complicit in this kind of activity.

John:  So, Tarak, what exactly did you do at Shannon Airport?

Tarak:  Well we, that was Ken who was just speaking.

John:  Oh, okay.

Tarak:   We got ourselves into the airfield and we walked down the runaways.

Source: Shannonwatch
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We were headed for an Omni plane which we knew was carrying US troops with their weapons and that’s what we were doing – ostensibly to inspect the plane but mainly to bring attention to the issue. And we were out there for about fifteen or twenty minutes before we were arrested and we were eventually charged with destruction of government property (that was the fence) and trespassing and we just got released the other day, yesterday, from thirteen days in Limerick Prison. I will tell you that most of the guards in the prison were extremely sympathetic and actually favourably inclined to what we had done. They know about the situation, as do most of the prisoners, and they had heard about us and you know supported, basically supported what we were doing and many of them were encouraging us to keep doing it.

John:  And Tarak and Ken, being both US citizens and veterans of the US military, did the US Embassy get involved or did they come to see you as Americans being in a foreign jail?

Ken:   We haven’t requested a visit. There’s been lots of support actually from the United States, not necessarily from the government although Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, has supported us and has actually contributed to our bail fund and Michelle Lujan Grisham, the current governor of New Mexico, has offered her support so that in various parts of the United States there is significant support among those who’ve heard about the issue but of course at the federal governmental level – no. In fact, some of our fellow prisoners were saying: We think that Donald Trump heard you were there and said to keep you!

John:   You know what, Ken, I wanted to ask you, you were a major in the United States Marines and I’m just going to read a sentence from Smedley Darlington Butler in a poem or an essay that he did, War is a Racket. And in that essay he says:

I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
– Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC, from his 1933 speech on Interventionism

When did you get involved and sort of saw what our foreign policy was doing around the world?

Ken:  Well, in my eight and a half years of active duty the Marine Corps was steadily showing me what the United States does around the world and it was actually the most important part of my educational process. So I resigned my commission in disgust with American foreign policy at the end of 1966 and I’ve been doing this kind of work ever since – so it’s thanks to the Marine Corps. And of course, Smedley Butler – Smedley Butler is a saint to Marines.

Malachy:  This is, – my name is Malachy McCourt and congratulations on the great work that you’re doing in the cause of peace and decency and humanity. I grew up in Limerick and so I know exactly where you are. That’s on Mulgrave Street – there’s a mental hospital, there is a hospital, there is the prison and there’s the graveyard, Saint Lawrence graveyard, there. So we always called that section of town ‘the last mile home’. And so there you are in that grey, dingy place but I’m glad to hear that the folks were sympathetic to you. I, over the years –

Fr. Daniel Berrigan in Dublin
Source: RTÉ

I knew The Berrigans and various people who – I protested wars as long as I can remember but this whole business of Irish neutrality is – can you be neutral where there is no war declared? That’s the – Congress has not declared a war since – and they’re the only ones that are supposed to be able to declare a war – the only last war declared was the Second World War. How is it that all of the – what are these troop, military actions? What are they calling them?

Tarak: Was that a question?

Malachy:  Yes.

Tarak:   Could you repeat, not the whole thing – but it’s hard to hear. If you could speak a little louder and repeat the question.

Malachy:  Surely. What are they calling these military, what is the United States calling these military actions in various places, Iraq and Vietnam, Korea? There’s no declared war. Congress is the only authorised section of our government that authorised to declare war. What are we doing invading places purely on the say-so of a president?


Veterans for Peace™
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Look, the whole thing from 2001 on – going to back to Vietnam, going back to Korea – it’s all illegal. The United States has been breeching and going against international law for a long time. They do it with impunity. They do it because they can. It’s gangsterism. It’s murder. And children are dying – and this is one of the main reasons why we were out there and why we are out there often you know, protesting and doing stuff against it. Children are dying, people are dying, innocent people are dying. It’s not like soldiers fighting against soldiers, you know? It’s just mass destruction not to mention the environmental destruction that the US military does all over the world, you know? So it’s incumbent upon us to take a stand. It’s incumbent on us to do something. And we’re not heroes we’re just ordinary people doing what we feel is right – not being silent in the face of all this murder and destruction.

Malachy:  Well, you’re a great example to all the young folks. Now does this, do your actions, do they affect any sort of benefits that you may be getting from your military service?

Tarak:  Well, the benefit is people waking up. And the benefit is to us, personally, is that it’s a question of integrity – we don’t know if we’re going to change anything, we don’t know if we’re going to stop wars but we don’t want to be silent in the face of it and if enough people wake up, if enough people start taking a stand – maybe there is a possibility of stopping it. But we don’t measure it by the benefit that we do. We measure it by what is right to do. And we’re guided by our conscience.

Malachy:  Will you get punished, though? This is what I’m saying.

Tarak:  Oh, oh, – it affects our benefits, I see. Okay. Yeah, I’m sorry, I misunderstood you. I still get veterans, VA benefits. It hasn’t yet affected that. At one time Ken’s benefits were affected but that changed. Is that what you were asking?

Malachy:  Yes, thank you, that’s exactly what I was asking. But what, now is there, for a long time there was no extradition treaties between the Republic of Ireland and the United States. Is there, have you investigated that now? Extradition between our…

Tarak:  …There is an extradition treaty and one of the reasons why the judge here in Ennis last week decided not to give us bail at that time because he felt if we went back to the United States they would have difficulty getting the extradition although there is an extradition treaty but that it would be an obstacle for them – that’s one of the reasons why they kept us in jail. And now, of course, they’ve taken our passports so that we can’t return…

Malachy:  …to the United States…

Tarak:  …so they’ll be another appeal. We’ll be making another appeal to get home released but we want to come back. We want to face a jury. We want to get a chance to make our statement because the whole reason we did this is to increase the awareness, the public awareness, of the issue about the violations of Irish neutrality.

Malachy:  Is that, are the charges, are they felonious or are they just misdemeanors?

Tarak:   No. They’re more than misdemeanors.

Malachy:  I see.

Tarak:   Destruction of government property is a felony.

Malachy:   A fence?

Tarak:  Yeah.

Malachy:  Okay, Well they’re building fences and walls all over the bloody place.

John:   And Ken and Tarak, what are your now bail conditions? Because I know when you came over you came over to Ireland with Ray McGovern, a great Bronx guy, former CIA agent, and you spoke up in Belfast. But now going to Belfast – it could be a restricted area. You’re not allowed to leave the Twenty-Six Counties so you probably cannot go up to the Six Counties so you’re restricted to the Twenty-Six County area. Would that be right? What are the restrictions on your bail?

Tarak:  That’s correct. Aside from that there’s no restrictions. We just can’t leave the Republic of Ireland and we cannot go back to Shannon Airport and, you know, engage in any activity at Shannon. By the way, our bail was five thousand euros.

John:  Each?

Tarak:   For the both of us. It’s twenty-five hundred each.

John:  Yeah, twenty-five hundred. So what are your plans now? How long do you think you’ll have to stay in the country? And how will you finance yourself?


Source: The Irish Times

Well, we have support here and, you know, we have a place to stay and our plans are to keep speaking about this. We had an interview with the Irish Times yesterday and they did an article on it so we will keep speaking out, we’ll probably get a few chances to do that and we’ll be here. We’ll just take it day-by-day.

Ken:  And incidentally the reason why we’re having a little difficulty hearing is that we’re out at a street corner protest supporting Palestinians rights with other fellow supporters of Palestinian rights. So we keep at it.

Malachy:  And is there a fund that we could announce here that you, people could contribute to – peace-loving people could send a contribution?

Tarak: Yes, yes, actually there is. Let’s see, I’m just trying to think of how to get in touch with it. If people go to veterans for peace dot org…

Malachy:  …Veterans for Peace…

Tarak:   …there will see a page set up. Veterans for peace dot org – that’s our homepage. They will see information about it and they can make a donation online to Veterans for Peace mentioning that this is for Ken and Tarak.

Malachy:  And when is your trial?

Tarak:  Well, we have another hearing on April 3rd but that’s just a local hearing – sometimes these things can drag out for years.

Malachy:   And is that in Limerick or Ennis or Dublin? Where is that?

Tarak:  This is…repeat that again?

Malachy:  Will you be in court in Ennis or Dublin or Limerick?

Tarak:   Ennis.

Malachy:   In Ennis. Okay, that’s the district court there.

Tarak:  Right.

John:  Alright, Ken and Tarak. Thanks for coming on. ‘BAI will stay on top of this and keep giving everyone an update. I know I was talking to Bob Keilback about things that’ll be done here in the city on your behalf so we’ll be giving updates every Saturday and Wednesday here on WBAI.

Tarak:   Thanks so much for all the great work that you and ‘BAI does to illuminate these issues. Appreciate it. (ends time stamp ~18:35)

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Máiría Cahill The Michael Reade Show LMFM Radio 28 March 2019

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The Michael Reade Show
LMFM Radio
Co. Louth

Michael Reade speaks to Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillor and sexual abuse victims campaigner, Máiría Cahill, via telephone about the guilty verdict yesterday in Dublin concerning paedophile rape involving an alleged IRA member.
(begins time stamp ~26:47)

Michael:  Now a forty-five year old man who was alleged to have been a member of the IRA was found guilty yesterday at the central criminal court of raping two teenaged boys at a Republican safe house in Co. Louth in the early 1990’s and in 2001. We’re joined by Máiría Cahill to talk about this. Good Morning to you, Máiría, and thanks for joining us. I understand you’ve been speaking to the two men who were teenagers at the time they were raped by this man.


Máiría Cahill

Good Morning, Michael. How are you? First of all, apologies to you and your listeners, I have a bit of a virus so I’m hoping my voice holds out. But yes, I have spoken throughout the case over the last number of years, yesterday and again this morning, with the victims and I have a message from one of them. He says he would like to thank everybody in the local area and also wider afield who have supported them in their search for justice and he’s deeply appreciative of that.

And I just want to pay tribute to both of them for their incredible bravery in not only coming forward in the first place but also in seeing this case through to conclusion and you know they have got a result now and I know that they’re hopeful that sentencing will bring some measure of closure for them but I think coming forward in the climate that they did to take that case, which has been ongoing for quite some time, a number of years, and standing up – I mean, I know that they suffered from intimidation in their local area, from smears and attacks verbally, from attempts to, I suppose, try and put them under pressure and they saw the case through – and they went on the witness stand, they were put through a trial by the perpetrator and you know, I just want to say to both of them that they are two very brave individuals and that their actions in standing up will hopefully help other people to come forward.

Michael: Yeah, well, you know better than most what it means to come forward as somebody whose been the victim of a sexual assault let alone to have been raped, let alone to have been raped as a teenager. These particular people were very young, one of them was just thirteen or fourteen, the second guy I think was seventeen so we’re into the realm of paedophilia. And we’re also, then, talking about the fear that people may feel from members of the IRA – something that you can certainly testify to, Máiría Cahill. We’re not allowed to name the two men because of legal reasons but you know who they are, as you say you’ve been speaking to them, a lot of people know who they are and you contend that Gerry Adams knows who they are.

Máiría:   Absolutely. There’s no shadow of a doubt and he will also be aware of the perpetrator’s identity. And I do want to make this point because people know how Sinn Féin have reacted on this issue over the last number of years. I think their actions, the party as a whole, have been despicable in the way, the corporate way, in which they tried initially when I went public in 2014, to try and smear me in an effort to damp this issue down and that they were unable to do that. Mostly again, if have to thank the members of the wider public who saw through the attempts to fire smoke balls all over the place and to try and stop victims from speaking. Gerry Adams has been active on Twitter last night, he’s the TD for the Louth constituency, this case happened in his current constituency and he will be aware of the identities of those people involved in that trial. He hasn’t condemned the actions of the perpetrator in this case. He hasn’t sent solidarity to the victims. And I think it is incumbent upon him as a public representative, first and foremost, to do that and to also call on other victims to come forward to report their abuse and to reassure them that when they do that they will not be smeared, that attacks will not be directed towards them and that victims will be given every support conceivable to allow them to take their cases through the court because that is the arena in which cases like this should be dealt with.

Michael:  Okay. And we’ve heard, I don’t want to link this to any other story that we’ve spoken about on the programme previously because they are legal restrictions but we’ve heard of similar stories of sexual assaults in IRA safe houses and that there were a lot of people involved obviously in organising these safe house and setting them up and the same people becoming aware of allegations that were being made, members of Sinn Féin, some members of Sinn Féin and the IRA on occasion, and people out in the community for that matter. Are there questions, as far as you understand it – again I’m not relating it to stories we’ve heard previously – but are there questions as far as you understand it in relations to this story specifically for people who were not brought before the court?

Máiría:   Well yes, and again I want to be very careful about the legalities and sensitivities in relations to that. In relation to the wider issue I suppose, which takes it off this particular case, I think that in any case where there are allegations that a Republican has abused people in a safe house and if there were any actions, or inactions, by other people that absolutely those people have questions to answer. And I don’t think that in the general issue that those questions have been answered sufficiently. I think we have seen denial after denial actually in relation to a lot of it and a lot of adults have responsibility here in relation to this issue. There are a lot of people across the country who have been involved in similar situations I suppose, and that is the mildest form that I could put on it, and in the aftermath of these cases who have said things publicly or who have denied things in an effort to try and, I suppose, paint victims as liars and absolutely those people have questions to answer but they also have responsibility and if they had a measure of conscience around them they would take responsibility for those actions.

Michael: Responsibility and action I gather as well as the person who led the Republican Movement through this time period and the sitting TD for the constituency where this happened. Are there questions for Gerry Adams now in terms of what action should be taken?

Máiría:  There will always be questions for Gerry Adams as far as I’m concerned and I base that on my own personal experience once I went public and people will be aware so I’m not going to rehash my case or link it to this in any way but I know that my case had an effect on other people in relation to people coming forward to try and get help, to get support. I still have people coming through to me with allegations of cases and all of those allegations have been passed to either the Gardaí or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) or in some instances, both. Gerry Adams will always, as far as I’m concerned, have questions to answer. He has, again in my opinion, failed to take proper responsibility or to be absolutely candid in relation to his knowledge on the issue. For example, when I went public on the 14th of October 2014, you will remember that the Sinn Féin party as a whole online, offline and on the public airwaves really went on the offensive and at a point when I was probably at my most vulnerable in the public domain and, you know, they effectively tried to call me a liar. And a week later Gerry Adams wrote a blog where he admitted that the IRA had, in his opinion, dealt with, he said they had expelled or shot sex offenders. Clearly in this case there is no allegation, as far as I’m aware, that either that man was expelled or shot so there is another example of a case which doesn’t tie-in with what Gerry Adams had written in his blog. But there were other quotes from people, like Mary Lou McDonald for example, while she said that people who abused children could not call themselves as Republican she also, and quote for quote, on radio said:

I believe that the people who volunteered for the IRA were decent – yes, I do.

Now, can you imagine what that is like as a sex abuse victim at the other end of the airwaves listening to a statement like that and how that would make you feel if you had suffered abuse at the hands of an IRA member? It’s incredibly hurtful.

But it also has an effect, I suppose, when quite a lot of people are saying things like that from within the Sinn Féin party where victims lose hope – you know, where they don’t believe that their voice is going to be heard – and in this case these two boys, and that’s why I’m saying they have been incredibly brave, both of them have seen this through to the end, both of them have got guilty verdicts and I really hope the sentence brings them closure on the 29th but I also hope that the Sinn Féin party gives them closure in relation to all of this through absolute condemnation of the actions that were perpetrated upon them in the round by this Republican and other people on the periphery…

Michael:  …But both of these children, Máiría Cahill, woke up on different occasions to a paedophile assaulting them and raping them and the, part of the defence, it seems was that at some stage, this man says he was having a relationship with one of these people.

Source: Irish Independent

The two men have obviously been vindicated. Are you concerned that these allegations were known to other people, known to members of Sinn Féin, and they asked that question because it was an IRA safe house, and those allegations were not passed onto the authorities as we’ve heard, alleged, in other stories?

Máiría:  Well look, again I am treading the bounds of legality here. Let me say that here if that is the case, if – and again, it is very, it would be incredible to think that people were not aware of allegations of this nature prior to this court case coming and prior to this case actually running – that people may well have been aware of these allegations and those people have to answer for their action, or inaction, on this case. But let me tell you in the round from my own experience that the – you know, when I went public I was deluged with people coming forward with snippets of information about a range of different cases and I passed, I think around (aside by Máiría). You know, I was deluged with people coming forward with information and again that information was passed to the Gardaí and we are talking about a significant number of alleged people, alleged perpetrators of abuse, who had perpetrated quite heinous actions on children and the thread that linked all of those cases, or the majority of them anyway, was that they did them as Republicans who felt that they could get away with those acts because they felt, in my opinion, that they had cover to do so, that the name of the IRA would mean that people would be too frightened to come forward. And certainly in my own case, you know my own abuser, was an IRA man and that was a significant factor in why his victims did not report him sooner.

You know, and then we have the added element of the Sinn Féin party and their actions when people did come forward and it wasn’t easy to stand up and be counted and to use my voice. Certainly, I know it wasn’t easy for these two individuals to take their case forward because there was an added element there where people, in an effort in my opinion again, to protect the Republican Movement as a whole, rather than taking responsibility for the issue and trying to bring other victims forward in a climate where they would feel comfortable to do so they upped the ante. They went on the offensive. And they tried to silence people and I think that is absolutely despicable.

Michael:  Okay. Well listen, thank you for talking to us today and it’s nice to speak to you again and, indeed, for joining us on the programme.

Máiría:  Thank you Michael. And can I say just one final thing?

Michael:  Very briefly.

Máiría:   Because the one thing that was very important for victims like me was people like yourself and other radio stations and TV stations covering this issue because if you hadn’t given those victims a voice then it would have been very, very difficult for other people to come forward. And the last message that I want to send: That if anybody is sitting on the other end of this radio station who has been in a similar situation to myself or these two men who haven’t come forward to get help that they should do so and that they should feel comfortable to do so. And I certainly will make it my business to make sure that those people are given every support available to them.

Michael:  Máiría Cahill, thank you very much indeed for talking to us today.

Máiría:   Thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 39:59)