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Third Trial of PitStop Ploughshares Begins in Four Courts

category dublin | anti-war / imperialism | feature author Sunday July 09, 2006 02:14author by Paul MacGiolla Bán Report this post to the editors

Anti-war activists on trial in the Four Courts this week

featured image
The Catholic Worker 5 with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
On 3rd February 2003, five individuals took part in an anti-war action at Shannon airport. This action involved disabling a US Navy war plane that was using Ireland as a pit stop on its way to Iraq. The five were equipped with hammers, and set about disarming the plane using these tools. They were arrested on the scene and were charged with causing criminal damage worth US$2.5 million.

The first trial began in March 2005, but ended in a mistrial. A second trial in October 2005 also collapsed when it emerged that the newly appointed judge had a personal relationship with US president George W Bush, whose administration instigated the invasion of Iraq. The five will now stand trial at the Four Courts from July 5th to 19th.

This group is known as the Pit Stop Ploughshares, and the following article contains some thoughts on some of the other activities of the group, to put the action at Shannon in context.

In the discourse about the Pit Stop Ploughshares on indymedia and elsewhere, the focus has obviously been on the disarmament action in Shannon, more than 3 years ago. But there is much more to this group than this, and this action becomes much more meaningful when it is seen in the context of a wider set of activities. As well as taking action against something, the Catholic Worker movement is also about taking positive action for something. As well as acting against injustice and violence, the movement aims to take action to create and sustain peace, community, and a sense of solidarity with those who are socially excluded.

Recent anti-war coverage on indymedia Ireland: Report on warship protest | Photo essay on Ploushares benefit gig | War dead remembered with showers of flowers at Shannon airport | Palme D'Or winner Ken Loach and 'Barley' screenwriter Paul Laverty support the Catholic Workers | Catholic Worker press release | TRIAL UPDATE: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 and 4

More: Peace on Trial website

Continued article:
The five individuals in question are Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Ciaron O’Reilly, and Damien Moran, and they have become known as the Pit Stop Ploughshares. This is a reference to the biblical prophecies of Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 to “beat swords into ploughshares”, and the disarmament has been described as a faith-based act. Since 1980, there have been more than 70 disarmament actions globally which were inspired by the same biblical prophecy, each of which was named after the biblical text. The Pit Stop Ploughshares are also known as the Catholic Worker Five or the Dublin Catholic Workers, being a part of the Catholic Worker movement which was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in the US in 1933. Rather than having a passive engagement with religion, those involved in the Catholic Worker movement believe that there is a moral imperative to take action against injustice, and their action at Shannon was undertaken on this basis to protect life and property in Iraq.

In the discourse about the Pit Stop Ploughshares on indymedia and elsewhere, the focus has obviously been on the disarmament action in Shannon, more than 3 years ago. But there is much more to this group than this, and this action becomes much more meaningful when it is seen in the context of a wider set of activities. As well as taking action against something, the Catholic Worker movement is also about taking positive action for something. As well as acting against injustice and violence, the movement aims to take action to create and sustain peace, community, and a sense of solidarity with those who are socially excluded.

To this end, the Catholic Worker Five in Ireland have been very supportive of various projects around Dublin. For just some examples: Deirdre Clancy was centrally involved in providing support and solidarity for those who took part in the Afghan hunger strike in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in May 2006; during a Critical Mass event on Car Free Day in September 2005, Damien Moran took part in leafleting to publicise a free street party the following weekend; Ciaron O’Reilly was one of the key people who maintained the existence of Speaker’s Square in Temple Bar. Damien and Ciaron also worked in a homeless shelter throughout 2005. However, one of the most sustained and effective projects of all, following the example of Dorothy Day in the 1930s, was the creation of a ‘hospitality house’ on the south side of Dublin city (see Ciaron O'Reilly's account of this). From June 2003 until December 2005, various Catholic Workers lived in community in a series of different addresses in Kimmage and Rialto.

During this period they provided hospitality for many activists, providing beds, for example, for an activist from the homeless advocacy group Street Seen who was travelling from Belfast, and for a Shell to Sea campaigner from the Rossport Solidarity Camp in Mayo. They also provided a place for workers from the nearby Dolphin’s Barn community garden to wash up after an evening’s digging. During 2005, the Catholic Worker house in Rialto also provided assistance for a young US soldier who had deserted from the US army at Shannon airport, and who claimed asylum in Ireland. They helped to find accommodation for him at Kimmage, and provided support for him during his asylum application. (see also indymedia article on US soldiers seeking asylum in Ireland)

During this period, the Dublin Catholic Workers also hosted an open house on Sunday evenings. This would begin with a liturgy in the sitting room, usually led by Deirdre, Damien or Ciaron, and often involving music and some food. This took the form of discussion and reflection based on a particular passage of the bible. This atheist writer was even lured in to participate a few times, after Damien described the liturgy as a “roundtable political bible study”.

Following the liturgy, various events were organised on different Sundays – screenings, talks and discussions took place about a range of topics. One of the most memorable was a screening of a documentary about Irish activist Caoimhe Butterly’s time in Palestine, followed by a talk by Caoimhe herself. Caoimhe had also spent time in Iraq, and while in Palestine she acted as a human shield for Palestinians travelling around within the occupied territories. She acted as an escort for Palestinian children on their way to school, and interviewed Palestinian women about their experiences. She was based in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, where she was shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier.

These Sunday nights were social occasions (bring your own beer/whiskey!) which offered a chance to meet up with other like-minded people. One of the characteristics of this modern age of global capital is that society has become fragmented. Long commuting times and long hours spent watching television mean that people are less involved in their community. This was even recognised by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when he had Robert Putnam, theorist of ‘social capital’, address the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. Putnam is the author of Bowling Alone, about the breakdown and revival of community in the US (see Colin Murphy’s critical review in Village magazine).

This process of atomisation particularly affects activists, be they socialist or anarchist, trade unionist or environmentalist, or protesters against globalisation or capitalism, and whether they are Catholic, atheist, Muslim or pagan. In one small way, the actions of the Dublin Catholic Workers have helped to counter this process by helping to build community. One of the great challenges of the modern age – in which indymedia has the potential to play a central role – is to link up several of the separately existing communities on the basis of what is common to each of them. The Pit Stop Ploughshares’ open house was a response to this challenge, and offered an opportunity to meet like-minded people, facilitate cooperation and interaction, and try to link up existing communities.

During the trial over the next weeks, there will be plenty of opportunity to reflect on the meaning of their actions at Shannon 3 and a half years ago. But it is also important to remember that this action was part of a wider project to build an alternative kind of community, and to embrace a different set of principles to those of the mainstream. As well as tackling unfairness, inequality and violence, it is equally important to present a vision of a viable alternative, and the activities of the Catholic Workers have shown that they have made a significant contribution to articulating such a vision.

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by newzpublication date Sun Jul 09, 2006 17:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Aussie peace activist facing jail

July 5, 2006 - 5:09PM

An Australian peace activist is on trial in Ireland for allegedly helping disable a US navy plane in the lead-up to the Iraq war, causing millions of dollars in damage.


author by redjadepublication date Sun Jul 09, 2006 19:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''Hugh and 19-year-old Ranger Sam last year served in Iraq at the same time and got to know the world's most notorious road pretty well during their six-month tour of duty.
"We would have been on Route Irish probably every other day," said 19-year-old Sam as if he was talking about Belfast's Westlink and not a stretch of tarmac which strikes fear into the heart of even the most experienced soldier.

For the youngest of the Benson brothers, 18-year-old Stephen, also a ranger, Jamaica is his first overseas exercise with the RIR.

"I've just always wanted to join the army, and decided when I was 15 that I was going to go for it," he said.

"The heat's a bit of a killer when you're in the jungle out here, but I've definitely been enjoying it so far anyway. It's different from what I expected, it's a lot closer than I thought it was going to be."

From west Belfast to the east of the city and Tullycarnet which is where Lance Corporals Mark and David Mealey call home.

Like the Bensons, their father also served in the Royal Irish Regiment. The younger of the two siblings, 20-year-old Mark, is looking forward to the RIR's forthcoming tour of duty in Afghanistan and, in particular, the different rules of engagement which apply there.

"In Iraq, where we have both served, it's Card Alpha – you can only shoot at someone if they shoot at you or if you see someone going to detonate a device. However, in Afghanistan the law of armed conflict applies – if you see an enemy or likely enemy you can open fire."''

more at


One Reporter's Trip to Abu Ghraib Stalls on the Road
'The Rhino is as close to an indestructible bus as you can find. It looks like a huge eraser on wheels. The entire outside is encased in bulletproof (and hopefully bombproof) armor. The windows are several inches of special one way bullet-proof glass. Bullets bounce off the glass but there are special gun holes that can be broken from the inside and allow the military to shoot back at whomever is shooting at the bus.

The Rhinos are used to transport V.I.P.'s up and down airport road, people like Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein. It depends on who you believe, but Route Irish, as the military calls it, is either the safest or most dangerous road in Baghdad. I lean toward most dangerous.'

more at


'Route Irish' Blog

author by Davepublication date Tue Jul 11, 2006 00:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

CW Trial (Take 3) finally got going today. An anti war presence was maintained outside ofr the duration.

People of Dublin Lend Me Your Ears!
People of Dublin Lend Me Your Ears!

Related Link: http://www.warontrial.com/
author by BIFFOpublication date Tue Jul 11, 2006 00:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ciaron O'Reilly is dual/jewell citizen of Australia & Ireland. His father hails from Clara, Co. Offaly. His grandfather saw action, exile and jail in the struggle for Irish independence. I have heard him speak many times at Speakers Square in Temple Bar. When someone takes a shot at him for not being Irish. He says that where you pay for being Irish is not in the free state but 90 miles north of Dublin or in London, New York or Australia. I believe he dropped the "k" from his name when he was a teenager when he discovered it was in the Irish alphabet. He's one of ours

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77101&comment_limit=0&condense_comments=false#comment158079
author by redjadepublication date Tue Jul 11, 2006 15:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

U.S. War Resisters Gather at Reunion in Canadian Town
'Hundreds of Vietnam war-era draft resisters settled in and around the Slocan Valley, about 370 miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia. They were among nearly 50,000 Americans of draft age who moved to Canada in the late 1960s and early '70s.

After then-President Jimmy Carter granted an amnesty in 1977, about half returned and the rest remained in Canada.'

more at

more info at

author by Eoin Dubskypublication date Wed Jul 12, 2006 00:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Any update folks?

author by Supporterpublication date Wed Jul 12, 2006 01:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Even a short summary of the daily proceedings would herlp to keep the rest of us clued in. I understand reports take a long time but those who are in the court should try write up a few lines about what occured. I heard prosecution wound up their case - a lot quicker than last time. Defence is due to start tomorrow with Ciaron O'Reilly's testimony. It's possible Damien, Karen, Deirdre and Nuin will also have a chance to testify tomorrow. Sorry, too tired to write any more.

author by dunkpublication date Wed Jul 12, 2006 14:35author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

latest court update:
The Ploughshares Trial - Day 2 : http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77179

have only got down a bit in the morning, great to see again the diverse and ever growing suppor to all the crew.
i was listening to an excellent recording of a concert liam clancy gave last year in kilkenny - he talked a bit about the craziness of all these wars and dedicated the song "and the band played waltzing matilda " for george bush. it was an amazing gig, really hit you

LIAM CLANCY: August 15th 2005 ( http://www.rte.ie/radio1/inconcert/rams/15august.smil )
Recorded at The Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny on 22 April of this year.
http://www.rte.ie/radio1/inconcert/1052228.html its about 21 minutes into the gig

also he speaks more about the history of that song and other thoughts after 50 years on the road and further a field here on rattlebag with Myles Dungan:

author by xpublication date Wed Jul 12, 2006 20:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Day opened with Ciaron on the stand, cross examined. damien on the stand and also completed cross examined. Day ended with Karen in mid-cross examination. Resumes tomorrow. the crew are heading for the Mark Thomas gig tonight.

author by sshort updatepublication date Thu Jul 13, 2006 19:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Today opened with the continued cross examoination by Karen Fallon. Deirdre Clancy was next with her testimony & then cross examination. Nuin Dunlop's testimony followed and also concluded. there wa slegal argument in the absence of the jury before Retired RAF wing commander and military expert Geoffrey Oxley OBE took the stand as an expert witness for the defence. Kathy Kelly was alos called as a defence witness but the day conlcuded witht legal argument in the absence of the jury. Judge will rule in the morning.

Possible scenario is witnesses or no witnesses with a lo of legal argument will take up Friday.

Jury shold be charged by judge and sent out Monday mornning after she rules on the relevance of the defence arguments.

Mon & Tues
8.30 pm The Spire Anti-War Vigil
9.15 am Peace Walk to Court
10.30 am Trial.

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by aaronrippublication date Thu Jul 13, 2006 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by Psp Supporterpublication date Thu Jul 13, 2006 23:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We are indeed meeting from 8.30am at the Spire and heading off at about 9.30am as court doesn't start until 10.30am.

author by Alterkocker - humanitypublication date Sat Jul 15, 2006 13:45author email alterkocker at emailaccount dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why should this brave and decent group of human beings apparently restrict their objectives to ones of 'catholic worker' interest? Morality and peace is no more the preserve of catholics than it is of any other religious or non religious group. There are many non-catholic people in Ireland and elsewhere who would like to associate themselves with these beleagured people, victims of a pro-US government, but feel excluded by the needless denominational connection. This group of rebels have not and will not receive the help they need, nor the blessing to which they are entitled, from the Catholic Church in Ireland or outside of it. So why do they not embrace those who embrace their ideals but prefer not to embrace the Catholic Church? The Catholic Church is merely embarrassed, and not at all impressed, by noble but unorthodox actions like theirs.

author by Miss Alpinepublication date Sat Jul 15, 2006 16:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Update from Day 2 p-p-please
by Eoin Dubsky Tue Jul 11, 2006 23:07
Any update folks?

No Eoin!

No update but you and your high court case has benn mentioned. Luckily this can't be used against the Shannon 5.

But what about the next action?

TP actions my whole.

Who will finish this mans work?

author by Peace Walkerpublication date Sun Jul 16, 2006 18:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you join the walk to the 4 Courts from the Spire in single file silence in memory of the war dead, you will be led by a Japanes Buddhist nun. She will maintain her Buddhist chants outside the court as the trial is in progress. Along with Buddhist punks there will be anarchist punks, Catholic nuns, Epsicopalians, gays, military veterans, Baptist ministers, catholic priests, agnostics, socialists, anarchists, NGO's, US/London/Dublin Catholic Workers, Australian doc maker,athiests & pagans. All these folks have been embraced by the defendants in their nonviolent opposition to Irish complicity in this war. There has been no accusation that anyone has been excluded on the basis of belief or been the subject of evangelistic pitches by the defendants.

author by redjadepublication date Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 18 — An average of more than 100 civilians per day were killed in Iraq last month, the highest monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad, the United Nations reported today.

United Nations officials also said that the number of violent deaths had been steadily increasing since at least last summer. In the first six months of this year, the civilian death toll jumped more than 77 percent, from 1,778 in January to 3,149 in June, the organization said.

This sharp upward trend reflected the dire security situation in Iraq as sectarian violence has worsened and Iraqi and American government forces have been powerless to stop it.


In its report, the United Nations said that 14,338 civilians had died violently in Iraq in the first six months of the year.


Last month, The Los Angeles Times, drawing from statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and the Baghdad morgue among other agencies, reported that at least 50,000 people, and perhaps many more, had been killed since the invasion.

The article said that while most of those victims were civilians....

More at:

author by Peace Walkerpublication date Thu Jul 20, 2006 00:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thursday July 20 & Friday July 21

*8.30 am Solidarity/Anti-War Vigil at the Spire

*9.15am Peace Walk to Four Court s

*10 am Court 23 for the last days of trial

author by Elainepublication date Thu Jul 20, 2006 00:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

from today's vigil outside court.

Peace Picnic And Independent Media Briefing
Peace Picnic And Independent Media Briefing

Ciaron Addresses Supporters After Court
Ciaron Addresses Supporters After Court

Damien In The Glare Of The Independent Media Spotlight
Damien In The Glare Of The Independent Media Spotlight

My Horoscope Looks Good For The Weekend
My Horoscope Looks Good For The Weekend

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow... Everybody
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow... Everybody

author by redjadepublication date Sat Jul 22, 2006 00:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

here's a news story that will most likely be one of those little details forgotten while watching the horrors of lebanon and iraq and afghanistan and india and .....

'The Bush administration said on Thursday it approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of 24 UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters, radios, armoured vehicles and other military equipment worth more than $6 billion (3.25 billion pounds).

Congress has 30 days to block the sales, although such action is rare.

The Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the principal contractors for the different sales included Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp., General Electric Co., Harris Corp., ITT Corp., General Dynamics Corp., and Raytheon Corp..

The agency said in a mandatory notice to Congress that the arms sales would help strengthen Saudi Arabia's military and its ability to help the United States fight terrorism around the world. The deal comes amid escalating fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

what's the rush exactly?
why do the sauidi royals need $6 billion of weaponry that even the US congress doesn't need to approve of the deal?

smell the panic.

the panic of the neo-cons realising they have lost control

author by redjade - { & ex-Pioneer }publication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 02:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Menezes family pays tearful tribute
BBC News

Saturday, 22 July 2006
One year after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, his relatives and friends have gathered at the south London Tube station where he was killed.


the good news is that she is NOT in Lebanon (we were worried)
the good news is that she is NOT in Lebanon (we were worried)

author by dunkpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 13:52author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

justice is done:

huge thanks to the 5 after 3+ tough years of hanging on for this day

another gentle step of powerful global change

The jury is the conscience of the community chosen randomly from Irish society. The conscience of the community has spoken. The government has no popular mandate in providing the civilian Shannon airport to service the US war machine in it's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In 1996 in Liverpool the Jury acquittal of the four 'ploughshares' women contributed to the end of arms exports to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and the independence of East Timor.

The decision of this jury should be a message to London, Washington DC and the Dail that Ireland wants no part in waging war on the people of Iraq. Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately.

Ciaron, Damien, Karen, Deirdre, Nuin

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