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Magaretta D'Arcy jailed

category national | anti-war | feature author Thursday January 23, 2014 00:14author by Justin Morahan Report this post to the editors

"Free Shannon from the US Military"

featured image

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.

In prison, she remains defiant, asking that protestors demand not for her own release but the release of Shannon airport from the US military.

Already three protests are planned for today Friday 17th Jan, one for Limerick, one for Galway and one for Dublin. The Dublin protest is outside the Department of Justice at 1 o'clock

Jailed for Refusing to Be Silent: Peace Activist Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy is not a war criminal. Nor is she a human rights abuser, or the commander of an invading army. But she has spent many years drawing attention to the fact that these type of people pass through Shannon Airport regularly. The legally and morally correct response from the Irish police would be to investigate this complicity in wrongdoing at Shannon. Instead they imprisoned 79 year old Margaretta because she wouldn't promise to stay away from the airport.

A peace activist who draws too much attention to US and NATO injustices is locked up in supposedly neutral Ireland, while the country's morally corrupt government continues to bend over backwards to support their imperialist plundering. Ireland is obligated under customary international laws on neutrality to not allow US troops involved in wars to transit through Irish territory, and to arrest any such soldiers found on Irish territory. But the government not only refuses to do this - it even welcomes them.

The imbalance in the administration of justice is staggering. Margaretta and Niall Farrell, both members of Galway Alliance Against War, went onto the runway at Shannon on 7th October 2012 as part of an international week of protest against US killer drones. These drones may well be going through Shannon on some of the many US Hercules C-130's that land there, despite the claims of our Minister for Foreign Affairs that these aircraft are unarmed, carrying no arms and are not part of military exercises or operations. These claims are meaningless, as there is photographic evidence of at least one US Hercules landing at Shannon in 2013 armed with 30mm cannon. And on that basis Margaretta and Niall's action was fully justified.

Thousands of innocent people have been executed without trial by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen (with the approval of President Barack Obama), and thousands more have been injured and badly mutilated. Yet the Irish government pretends Shannon is not involved, just like it pretends the airport was not involved in renditions.

Margaretta and others have tried in vain to have these serious violations of international law investigated. Going onto the runway was a last resort in her efforts to have what she called a long overdue "conversation with the State". In Ennis District Court she explained why it was necessary to do what she did, but the court handed down a three month suspended sentence on condition that she sign a bond not to go back onto the runway. She refused, so the sentence was imposed. And Margaretta has ended up in Limerick Prison.

Margaretta has rightly claimed that Ireland is an active ally and participant in illegal wars. The State has responded by demanding her silence and her inaction. Indeed it's not the first time it has gone to great lengths to protect the illegality being perpetrated at Shannon. Arrests, court cases, barring of activists from the airport, restrictions imposed on protests - these and other violations of civil liberties have all become par for the course in a government-led curtailment of open discussion about what's going on at Shannon. The extent to which public opinion is being ignored is evident from the fact that in a 2013 poll conducted for PANA by Red C, 78% of people expressed the view that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality. It's not something that gets spoken about by government Ministers. Indeed despite what Article 5 of the Irish Constitution says about Ireland being a "sovereign, independent, democratic state", the military-industrial complex is alive and well here, with the mainstream media giving it all the support they can muster.

Margaretta and Niall Farrell are due in court again next week, on January 22nd, to answer another charge relating to action they took at Shannon. This one was on September 1st 2013 when it looked likely that the US was about to declare war on Syria. Throughout the world there was considerable fear that there would 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 once again made their way to Shannon to express their opposition to a US war against Syria. These actions are now forcing the State and the media to take note; sooner or later they will have to acknowledge the strong anti-war sentiment that exists throughout the country.

Shannonwatch unreservedly supports Margaretta, and condemns the heavy handed approach taken by the authorities who imprisoned her. We've joined the campaign calling for her immediate release, and we will be organising protests outside Limerick Prison every week until such time as this happens. However as Margaretta herself said from prison, the ultimate objective is not just to free her, it is to free Shannon from the US Military.

Finally, the term prisoner of conscience, which is used to refer to people who have been put into prison for their political or social beliefs or for breaking the law while protesting against a political or social system, fits Margaretta perfectly. In a country where the lip service being paid to human rights is ringing increasingly hollow, the significance of her action is immense. And let's hope that the renewed energy it gives to the peace movement in Ireland yields the desired results.




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


 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Today's protests     Justin Morahan    Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:34 
   Letter to Alan Shatter and acknowledgement     Justin Morahan    Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:50 
   Dublin protest     Justin Morahan    Fri Jan 17, 2014 16:46 
   Margaretta D'Arcy jailed     Sean O Riain    Sun Jan 19, 2014 13:58 
   Vid of Dublin demonstration & message of solidarity     Ciaron    Mon Jan 20, 2014 20:31 
   Margaretta's Stand     Justin Morahan    Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:22 
   Global Women's Strike protest Wednesday 11am - 1pm     Justin Morahan    Tue Jan 21, 2014 17:19 
   Solidarity Margaretta     fred    Wed Jan 22, 2014 08:34 
   Urgent Notice Dublin Protest today at Dáil     Justin Morahan    Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:57 
 10   Immediate release     Felix Quigley    Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:59 
 11   a principled stand     Frances    Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:22 
 12   BOGRAM AIR BASE IRELAND     brian clarke    Thu Jan 23, 2014 14:50 
 13   Margaretta Mountjoy bound?     Justin Morahan    Fri Jan 24, 2014 22:41 
 14   Latest Press Release from Shannonwatch     Justin Morahan    Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:53 
 15   letter to Clare cllr Pat McMahon re his comments in Guardian     Justin Morahan    Wed Jan 29, 2014 16:05 
 16   Robin Wallace video of Sundy's big demo at Shannon     Justin Morahan    Tue Feb 11, 2014 02:14 
 17   Margaretta speaks - Press release from Shannonwatch     Justin Morahan    Wed Feb 12, 2014 15:38 
 18   Adams to visit anti-war activist D’Arcy in Limerick Prison     T    Thu Feb 13, 2014 22:38 
 19   Clare Daly andi Mick Wallace visit Margaretta     Justin Morahan    Fri Feb 14, 2014 13:29 
 20   Margaretta arrives in Dóchas centre today     Justin Morahan    Fri Feb 14, 2014 15:59 
 21   Protest welcome for Margaretta outside Mountjoy     Justin Morahan    Sat Feb 15, 2014 23:34 
 22   Saturday's protest at the Spire     Justin Morahan    Mon Feb 17, 2014 00:49 
 23   Sunday's march to Mountjoy/Dóchas prison by Dublin saysNo     Justin Morahan    Mon Feb 17, 2014 01:04 
 24   For the record     Justin Morahan    Sun Mar 02, 2014 23:16 
 25   Another Wednesday - another protest     Justin    Fri Mar 07, 2014 01:37 
 26   nuclear war threat     anon    Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:51 
 27   And that is why . . .     Justin Morahan    Wed Mar 19, 2014 16:59 
 28   margaretta on saturday night show     fred    Sat Mar 22, 2014 22:08 


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