The incursion, described as a ‘peaceful symbolic action’, occurred at around 6am. It involved two known peace activists who attempted to reach a US military aircraft with the intention of searching it.
One of the men is in his 70s and a regular protestor at Shannon Airport and outside the Dáil. The second man is understood to be in his 50s. Both are believed to be from Dublin.
At the time, the Learjet, operated by the US military, was being protected by members of An Garda and the Defence Forces.
The men are thought to have been about 1,000 metres from the aircraft when they were spotted by gardaí.
They were quickly apprehended and removed from the area. They were later formally arrested and taken to Shannon Garda station for questioning.
They were detained under the provisions of the Air Transport and Navigation Act and questioned about entering the airport and also in relation to alleged criminal damage.
The pair are believed to have been carrying a large Irish Tricolour and another banner as a well as a can of red paint at the time.
During a follow up patrol of the airport perimeter and runway, authorities discovered a large red cross painted in the hard shoulder of the runway. It’s understood that evidence of paint was also found on a building on the airfield.
A spokesman for Shannon Airport said: “We can confirm that two men were apprehended by Airport Police at 6am in relation to a security matter on the airport grounds. The men were handed over to An Garda Síochána and taken into custody.”
Operations at Shannon were not affected during the incident and a patrol of the airport perimeter was undertaken after the men were detained. It was during this patrol that the location where the men are believed to have breached the security fence was found.
Gardaí seized several items for forensic examination while the location where the men are believed to have entered the airport was also technically examined.
A spokesman for ShannonWatch, a group that monitors US military movements at Shannon, said: “This incident not only highlights Ireland’s complicity in the slaughter in the Middle East and Central Asia, but how easily security at Shannon warport can be breached. It is time to end this scandal at Shannon.”