Thursday, December 05, 2013

Shannon Peace Activists Face court action:

       Margaretta d'Arcy and Niall Farrell, Galway Alliance Against War,
     outside Ennis Courthouse on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.


Two peace activists protesting at the use of Shannon Airport by the US military “endangered the lives of passengers on board two aircraft last year”, Ennis District Court was told  Tuesday, December 3, 2013. Airport police officer Richard Moloney said authorities had to act quickly after learning that two people were lying and sitting down on the main runway at Shannon as two aircraft were due to land on Oct 7, 2012.

Mr Moloney told Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell, Galway Alliance Against War, both dressed in orange jump suits: "You were on the runway. There were two aircraft holding overhead while you were on the runway. It was dangerous and you were in a very dangerous position."

In response to the incursion, Mr Moloney stated, authorities blocked an Aer Lingus flight from Heathrow and a Ryanair flight from Stansted from landing and put them into a holding pattern. Mr Moloney produced no documents or reports of Air Traffic Control to validate his evidence.

An author and playwright, Ms d'Arcy, aged 79, of St Bridget’s Place, Woodquay, Galway, said they were on the runway 20 minutes before airport authorities arrived to remove them. She said the authorities only arrived after the peace activists phoned them to alert them that they were there.
Judge Patrick Durcan remarked: "Ms dArcy, when I listen to all that took place, it is lucky that your mobile phone was working, otherwise you may not be here today."

Airport police officer Joe Noonan said he found Ms d'Arcy lying on the runway and Mr Farrell sitting down, with each holding placards reading "Stop Killer Drones via Shannon". Mr Farrell, aged 60, of Ballynacloghy, Maree, Oranmore, Co Galway, told the court: "We went on the runway assuming that there was proper security at the airport." The two deny the charge of the illegal incursion onto the airfield. Ms d'Arcy called a number of witnesses in her defence including TDs
Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

Mick Wallace, TD, said what is going on at Shannon, allowing US military planes use the airport, is unconstitutional. Clare Daly,TD, said the two activists were performing the role of whistleblowers by going onto the runway.

Judge Durcan reserved judgment and adjourned the matter to Wednesday, December 4 at Ennis District Court to fix a date on which he will deliver his judgment.

A spokesperson for the Galway peace group, Galway Alliance Against War, Breege Burke, has queried the suitability of Judge Durcan to hear the case:
"In the group's opinion Judge Durcan comes to this case with far too much political baggage. Two years ago, he was appointed to the post by his former running-mate Enda Kenny and at the last election he was Michael Ring's election agent, so he is unashamedly Fine Gael. Indeed, the local media in Mayo was reporting claims of "cronyism and political favouritism" at the time of his elevation. In these circumstances, to prevent accusations of political bias, he should have stood aside from this highly political case or sent it to the Circuit Court where it could have been heard before a jury.
"Fine Gael is virulently opposed to Irish neutrality. Margaretta and Niall's actions were to re-affirm our neutrality and oppose the US Military's use of Shannon airport to wage war.

A US Airforce Hercules C130 landing at Shannon, 02.12.13
"Their first action was part of an international week of protest against US killer drones. The GAAW believes these weapons are transported via Shannon in Hercules planes. Drones have become President Obama's weapon of choice in the ever-expanding 'War on Terror'. Flown by pilots sitting safely in Nevada, these remotely-piloted aircraft have the ability to hover over communities twenty-four hours a day and to target those below at the mere push of a button. Thousands of innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen have been executed without trial by these drones and thousands more have been injured and badly mutilated.
"On September 1, this year, it looked very likely that Washington was about to declare war on Syria. Throughout the world there was considerable fear that there would be an even more dangerous escalation of the conflict. While Pope Francis was leading the faithful in prayer for an end to war in Syria in the Vatican's St Peter's Square, Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell were making their way down to Shannon to express their opposition to a US war against Syria. Their actions may have been somewhat different, but their goal was the same."

Further charges have been brought against Ms d'Arcy and Mr Farrell for separate incidents which will involve further court appearances early next year. Margaretta d'Arcy and Niall Farrell deserve
support for their continuing efforts to highlight the illegalities at Shannon Airport with the collusion and assistance of the Irish Government and Irish police for over 12 years now contrary to international law, human rights conventions and their own declared policy of Neutrality.


Government hypocrisy was on show again today when both the Minister for Justice & Defence, Alan Shatter, and the Commissioner of Police, Martin Callinan, were hogging the TV screens to express their condemnation of the murder, in 1989, of two senior Royal Ulster Constabulary officers by the IRA during the brutal conflict in Northern Ireland at that time and the finding of a Judicial Inquiry released this week that the murders were assisted by information from a police source in Dundalk, a town close to the Northern Ireland border which the officers had been visiting on cross-border police business. Mr Callinan, in particular, stated that he was "horrified" that "members of my force" had been involved with the IRA at any level. Now, these murders were despicable and deserving of condemnation but, Mr Callinan has never expressed any "horror" at members of "his force" aiding and abetting horrific war crimes by offering protection and assistance to the transit of illegal drones used to murder THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN in a horrific manner in the various countries mentioned above where the US Military engages in such criminal warfare against civilian populations on a daily basis, not just one murderous act 24 years ago.

Thus, the slaughter of thousands of human beings is ignored, made invisible to public scrutiny, no judicial inquiries, no apologies, no condolences to their grieving families, all for the sleazy political expediency of a Government and police force which prefers toadying to the interests of a foreign military power than the upholding of human rights and international law which they are all sworn to do. Hypocrites, the lot.

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