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"Free Shannon from the US Military"
Magaretta D'Arcy, a 79 year old peace activist who is also undergoing cancer treatment was arrested at home in Galway.
Margaretta D'Arcy was taken from her home at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and jailed in Limerick prison. With Niall Farrell, Margaretta sat on the runway at Shannon while fellow activists called the Gardaí to remove them both for safety reasons. Margaretta had been convicted in court before Christmas, was sentenced to three months in prison and refused to sign a bond that would effectively have set her free.
Jailed for Refusing to Be Silent: Peace Activist Margaretta D'Arcy
Court Report for Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell: January 22nd Ennis Court
This report by Sarah Clancy on Wed, 22/01/2014 and is from http://www.shannonwatch.org/blog/court-report-margaretta-d%E2%80%99arcy-and-niall-farrell-january-22nd-ennis-court
Peace activists Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell appeared today before a packed Ennis Courthouse in relation to a protest they had both made in Shannon Airport on September 1st 2013. At that time it looked increasingly likely that the US was about to declare war on Syria. Throughout the world there was considerable fear that there would be a dangerous escalation of the conflict there, and as Pope Francis was leading the faithful in prayer for an end to war in Syria, Margaretta and Niall had once again made their way to Shannon to express their opposition to a US war against Syria and in particular to Ireland's facilitation of any such conflict.
Magaretta who is 79 has, so far, served eight days of a three month sentence in Limerick Prison which was handed down by Judge Durcan who was also the judge for today's proceedings. Margaretta was transported to court in by the prison service and the court room was crowded with supporters for her and her fellow accused's anti-war activities. Today's business was to set a date for a trial in relation to their actions at Shannon on Sept 1st 2013.
Inspector Tom Kennedy who was acting as state prosecutor requested that he be allowed to amend the charges upon which both activists were being prosecuted and Judge Durkan allowed this and in both cases made an order that the proceedings be postponed to February 13th 2014 which would enable Inspector Kennedy to see that both peace activists were re issued with the corrected charge sheets in respect of their cases.
It is of interest that an identical error was made in the previous charges brought against both activists (on 2nd December 2013) and on that occasion applications from both D'Arcy and Farrell that they case should be thrown out due to this error were denied by Judge Durkan. Following the Judge's refusal to strike out the case Farrell made a request for legal representation in court, this was also was denied to him by the Judge Durkan on that that date. The Dec 2nd case is the one for which Magaretta is currently serving her sentence and for which Niall Farrell received a three month suspended sentence.
Today however, Judge Durkan decided that he would allow the prosecution to amend the charge sheets but he stated that Farrell and D'arcy must be served with them in advance in order to allow them to prepare and so he set the case for mention on February 13th.
Following the outcome of the earlier court case, Niall Farrell decided to engage Mr Peter Madden of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, Belfast to represent him. Today in court Farrell himself drew the judge's attention to the fact that Inspector Tom Kennedy had undertaken to forward all charge sheets to Farrell's solicitor in advance of today's sitting. This had not happened and as a result Mr Madden had not had the opportunity to examine the charges. In today's court Inspector Kennedy gave no explanation for not having provided the documents and so Mr Farrell was left to surmise that this was because of the need to make an application to insert the correct charge.
As Margaretta D'Arcy was lead away from the court some of her supporters chanted US Military out of Shannon and tried to raise placards. They were forcibly removed by some of the approximately 20 Gardai who were present.
A group of people made their way to the car park where they intended to clap for Margaretta when she emerged from the courtroom to be transported back to Limerick prison. However what actually happened was that a Garda Seargent and three other Gardai arrived at the doors and physically grabbed hold of one of the supporters (a middle aged man). When challenged, these Gardai said that the man in question was not under arrest but yet they continued to pull him by force back into the courthouse where it seems that Judge Durkan had requested that he be presented.
Following this event a number of Gardai then manned the door of the courthouse and denied access to all members of the public who were there to support the anti war activists. This gave great cause for concert to all involved as one of our number had been detained without charge or reason given and was now in front of the judge without anyone there either to represent him or to act as witness to proceedings. Despite the fact that this reporter was also denied access to the court it was relayed to us that another woman, a retired school teacher of a similar age had also now been detained without being arrested or charged with any offence. Despite strenuous protestations made to the Gardai on the door by those attending the court they refused to explain by what legislation or by law they were preventing the public's access to court. The only fact that could be gleaned was that Inspector Tom Kennedy had instructed them to prevent access to the court room. One supporter undertook to contact the area Superintendent at Ennis Garda Station one Derek Smart but he has not returned her call as yet.
The two detained supporters have since been released with no official charges being made against either.
For the legal minds the correction to the charge sheets requested by Inspector Tom Kennedy is that regulation 4.1 subsection 14 of the Airport Bylaws of 1994 be inserted.
The Airport Bylaws of 1994 rely for their legality on the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1950, as amended by the 1988 and 1998 Air Navigation and Transport Acts.
Caption: Protest at Limerick Prison in Solidarity with Margaretta D