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Ploughshares Trial - Closing Arguments

category national | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Thursday July 20, 2006 20:21author by Liberty Belle Report this post to the editors

An account of the submissions made by counsel for the prosecution and the defence before the jury.

Today's submissions were quite lengthy so this is necessarily an incomplete account of all that was said. Please add corrections and ommisisons as a comment.

Counsel for the defence and prosecution summed up their cases before the jury. The judge will summarise for the jury tomorrow and continue on Monday, at which point the jury will retire to consider their verdict. The prosecution got the day rolling with a lengthy submission from Mr Devally.

His main line of argument was that the defendants did not have a “lawful excuse” to commit the action. Under the law if a person charged with the offence has a lawful excuse for damaging property he or she will not be found guilty of criminal damage.

One of his arguments was that the accused did not just seek to directly impede the US military in its impending invasion but also sought to raise the consciousness of others as to what was happening in the Middle East. He argued that in this democratic society (sic) this was an incorrect way of effecting change. Either one could seek a ruling from the courts as to the legality of Ireland’s role in the war with regards to the use of Shannon or one could march in the street as on February 15th 2003 or one could lobby elected representatives to change the government’s policy and ultimately one could change the representatives at an election.

Counsel for the prosecution also attempted to downplay the importance of the testimony of the expert military witness that the defendants’ action could have saved life and property in Iraq. He argued that the causal chain was too difficult to understand and he introduced a scientific concept called chaos theory, the popular version of which states that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon could cause a hurricane in Florida. Similarly with regard to the actions of the accused it was difficult to say if they had any impact on the lives and properties of Iraqis.

The prosecutor laid before the jury various examples of what he considered would amount to lawful excuse (e.g. breaking into a burning building). He argued that the action of the defendants was not reasonable in the circumstances. There were other ways of acting on their honestly held belief that the US military's use of Shannon Airport should be halted, such as requesting the police to intervene or the government to take appropriate action.

There were three separate submissions from three barristers acting for the defendants. They differed considerably in style.

A theme running through the day was the emphasis on the right of the accused to the presumption of innocence. It is for the prosecution to prove guilt, not for the defence to prove innocence. If the jury have a genuine doubt, it doesn’t even have to be a massive doubt, as to the guilt of the accused (in any criminal case) they should acquit. This applies right across the board so if the accused put forward a defence, in this case that they had lawful excuse to damage property, then it is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they didn’t. If doubt remains, then acquittal should follow.

As there was agreement on the basic facts of the case, the main arguments revolved around the issue of lawful excuse, though at times counsel were not averse to referring to wider issues such events in the Middle East in attempting to give context to their arguments.

The first submission from the defence argued that any wider issues such as whether the defendants hoped that their actions might contribute to the raising of awareness of the impending war, was not actually relevant to the charge as before the courts. The fact that they may have done so did not remove the defence that they also had lawful excuse under the law. That lawful excuse was that they honestly believed that their actions could help save a life and property in Iraq. He went on to argue that not only was their belief honestly held, but that their action was reasonable in those circumstances. The damaging of the infrastructure of war contributes to the lessening of the ability of that war machine. He gave the example of the German counter-offensive in Belgium in 1944 where the Axis forces’ counter-attack came to a halt due to a lack of petrol for their vehicles rather than a military defeat on the field. The importance of background infrastructure to a war should not be underestimated.

The second barrister for the defence adopted a more oratorical style and emphasised the intentions and courage of the accused and the destruction caused by war. He made frequent reference to the Bible, notably the Sermon on the Mount and its “Blessed are the peacemakers speech”, and said the defendants were attempting to practice in a sincere way their religious beliefs, beliefs to which many people pay nominal heed but is not always followed.

The third counsel for the remaining two defendants reverted to a more analytical approach and contested some of the prosecution’s core claims. It was noted that it is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants did not have lawful excuse. It is not for the defendants to prove that they did have it. He went on to argue why he considered the prosecutions case to fall short of ascertaining that level of confidence and that a jury must acquit if they had doubts.

He read back some of the prosecutions descriptions of the case which he claimed were classic indicators of doubt. For example, the prosecution had said that the defence’s evidence was strong and that the case was a difficult one to decide.

He noted that some of the prosecutions hypothetical examples of what would constitute a lawful excuse were inadequate to prove that this defence did not apply. For example, the prosecution repeatedly used the scenario of a burning house which a person damages in order to save life. The prosecutor had said this would be justified, but that this example was very different to the case being tried as one could not say that there was an emergency situation. The police or some appropriate body should have been called to deal with the situation. The defence counsel countered that the analogy was inappropriate as the Dail in 1997 had removed the word “immediate” from the legislation and that the prosecution’s reliance on emergency-style examples did not reflect accurately the case on trial. There was no imperative for the defence to show that their action was prompted by an immediate threat. He also rebutted an example of destruction of tobacco being exported to a country with no health warnings as being an inaccurate analogy to the case in hand.

The prosecution’s arguments, counsel for the defence submitted, did not impinge on the defendants’ right to rely on the defence of “lawful excuse”. While the prosecutor might think that it may open an appalling vista of posse-style justice, that was a matter that he or the Director of Public Prosecutions should take up with the Minister for Justice with a view to changing the law. The law as it stands, however, enables an accused of relying on the defence and so, it was argued, the prosecution had fallen short of inducing reasonable doubt on this issue.

Mr O’Higgins went on to challenge Mr Devally’s grasp of science and chaos theory. He referred back to the expert witness on military affairs. That expert had given evidence that there was a reasonable possibility actions of the accused could have saved life and property could neither be ruled in nor out. Counsel for the defence noted that the prosecution had not called any expert witness to counter this evidence, nor had they sought to challenge his testimony. The defence argued that as an expert witness could not rule out the reasonable possibility that their actions saved life and property, then the actions could fairly be said to be reasonable, and therefore the jury should acquit. This was so as it was for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was not reasonable yet they had not challenged the expert witness nor brought their own expert witness to give evidence to the contrary.

It was also submitted that the great majority of legal opinion on International Law were of the view that the American-led war in Iraq was illegal and that while it wasn’t for an Irish court to decide that issue, it was an opinion worth bearing in mind when considering the actions of the defendants. It is in this context that one of the defendant’s statements make sense, namely, “I didn’t go to Shannon to commit a crime; I went to Shannon to stop a crime”.

author by Psp'erpublication date Thu Jul 20, 2006 22:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A Benefit for the Pitstop Ploughshares 5
(who disabled a U.S. Navy plane at Shannon Airport in Feb. '03 and are currently undergoing their 3rd trial at Dublin Fourt Courts)

SATURDAY JULY 22ND 8.30pm

THE BULL AND CASTLE PUB (Opposite Christchurch Cathedral at the top of Dame st.)
5-7 LORD EDWARD STREET
CHRISTCHURCH
DUBLIN 2

ENTRY BY DONATION

Also featuring:

*FUNK MUSIC FROM 'HORSEBOX'

*DUBLIN ANTI-WAR SINGER/SONGWRITER PAUL O'TOOLE

* LARA FROM BANDA ZINGARA

'David Rovics is the Peace Poet and Troubador for our time'  - Cindy Sheehan
'David Rovics is the Peace Poet and Troubador for our time' - Cindy Sheehan

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by redjadepublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 00:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

thank you very much for the report - means so much for those of us off the island. thank you.

Lawful Excuse - wonderful phrase isnt it? Kind of legal principle that apply to so much as long as it doesn't challenge the politics of the day or the status quo.

thank you pit stop ploughshares for making the stand that has been so necessary for so many years.

author by Davepublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 00:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Joe Higgins TD and Mary Kelly present at court today.

Joe Higgins TD with Ciaron and Shao
Joe Higgins TD with Ciaron and Shao

Mary Kelly
Mary Kelly

Filming the Finale!
Filming the Finale!

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Ploughshares(personal caopactiy)publication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 09:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

eflections on the 10th. anniversary of the first Plowshares Acquittal-Liverpool "Seeds of Hope"

I first came home to Ireland in 'the cold wet Christmas '79 (the year of the papal visit, Mountbatten/Warrenpoint, the death of ACDC/BonScott) to primarily meet my grandparents for the first time.

I did not return to this part of the world for 17 years. It had taken my father 26 years to get back for the first time after he left in '49 for Australia. I returned because a friend ws in jail in England. Andrea Needham had supported me at the ANZUS Plowshares trial in Syracuse, New York July '91.

She was in Risley Prison with 3 other "Seeds of Hope" ploughshares
http://www.plowsharesactions.org/webpages/weba.htm

women who had been remanded in custody following their Jan '96 disarmament of a Hawk Fighter. It was an all womens action and an all womens core support group so with reluctance I was deployed to Liverpool to do pre-trial local organising. I got the gig because of my recent East Timor NVDA & organising in Australia, my experiences with Plowshare trials in the U.S. and there was no alternative - the support group was all based around London and the trial had been designated for Liverpool.

Today, July 21st. is the 10th. anniversarry of the acquittal of the "Seeds of Hope Ploughshares" charged with £2million criminal damage without lawful excuse. It was a great trial soldiarity scene, Scousers are a sympathetic bunch with a gallows humour ("the only city that still strikes" and the dockers were out during the trial), Gareth Pierce (Birmingham 6, Guilford 4 & every other lost cause in England) defended one woman and the others represented themselves, she was & is brilliant. The four were great in court and the solidarity scene was amazing each morning of trial. IIt was the first time I bumped into Kathy Kelly since staying at her place in Chicago in '87, She told me of the devastating effects of the sanctions on Iraq and of Madelline Albright's comment that 500,000 dead kids "was worth the price". See Albright's recanting in thei week's Newsweek.P68 "Iam afraid that Iraq is going to turn out to be the greatest disaster in American foreign policy> Madeline Albright.

I ended up staying on in Liverpool forming a CW community with East Timorese exiles, but that's another story "Remembering Forgetting" Ciaron O'Reilly, Otford Press, Australia, 2000

Related Link: http://www.plowsharesactions.org/webpages/weba.htm
author by Timpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great to get a gist of how it went. Due to work committments, I couldn't make it yesterday or today. Will be there Monday though!

I assume Brendan Nix S.C. was the barrister making reference to the sermon on the mount?

The 5 have a lot going for them, not least of which their innocence of this crime, their dignity, bravery, willingness to help others, humilty etc.. and a great legal team inside the court.
Despite his obvious talents, the prosecutor has a hard job to do in trying to make them look bad with all these things stacked against him. Hopefully he won't be too disappointed when they walk free, cos any decent jury would refuse to convict them with the evidence presented (Which is exactly why the judge in the Mary Kelly case ruled out so many witnesses and even in a disgraceful manner, misrepresented and disallowed the lawful excuse which Judge Reynolds did allow here)

Any bets on whether RTE will give much coverage to the verdict?

author by Edward Horganpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I had the privilidge of being in court for the closing submissions by both Brendan Nix and Michael O'Higgins.
Brendan Nix was appropriately political and emotional in his address. He pulled no punches but spoke the truth.
Michael O'Higgis followed up with a clinical legal submission which demolished the weak prosecution case.

The most thought provoking arguments were around the topic of why the Catholic Workers (and a small few others including Mary Kelly) felt moved to take some positive actions against the crimes being faciliated at Shannon airport. The Holocaust and the silent and inactive complicity of so many in Germany and elsewhere in the Holocaust was cited.
We should recall that a popular saying in the 1930s was that the vast majority of the German people cant be wrong in supporting Hitler. They were.
Even if the vast majority of the Irish people support the complicity in crimes against humanity that continues at Shannon, it is still inherently wrong.
Democracy gives no one any entitlement to commit even a single murder or a single act of torture.

In all such cases, silence and inaction is the worst form of cowardise.
The Catholic Workers, Karen, Nuin, Deirdre, Ciaron, and Damien, are people with exceptional bravery and interity. They never sought personal gain for their actions, and the actual costs to them financially and in terms of time and opportunities foregone have been very considerable.
Doing what is right can be a very lonly and very expensive business.
Turning a blind is easy and cheap, in the short term.
Regardless of the verdict of this trial, the Catholic Workers have already won a great victory. They challenged wrong doing and have been severely punished already for doing so. Lets hope that their actions will inspire others to contine to speak out and take action to prevent Irish complicity in crimes against humanity, and crimes against all our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and anywhere such crimes are being perpetrated.

Well done, so far, and good luck next week, Karen, Nuin, Deirdre, Ciaron, and Damien.

author by Margaretpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 16:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nothing in the Irish Times all week but there was this tiny bit today:

Closing speeches in anti-war trial

Closing speeches were heard yesterday in the trial of five anti-war protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aircraft at Shannon airport.

Judge Miriam Reynolds is expected to send the jury out today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Ciarán O'Reilly, an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop, a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran, Karen Fallon, a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto, Dublin and Deirdre Clancy, a copy editor, Alverno apartments, Clontarf, Dublin have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of damaging a US naval aircraft and glass door panels at Shannon in February 2003.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Limerick Leader had a piece last week (http://www.limericktoday.com/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionI...27103) and this week

Evidence finished in the trial of five antiwar protesters

ALL the evidence has now been heard in the trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport.
Closing speeches are expected to be heard following legal argument in the absence of the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The final witness for the defence, antiwar activist Ms Kathy Kelly, told the jury that she had met the five accused at the St Brigid's Festival in Kildare prior to their action at Shannon. She told them of her personal experience in Iraq and of the consequences of economic sanctions in that country.
Under cross examination she told Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, "had the US public understood fully the impact of economic sanctions in Iraq I don't think they would have stood for it".
The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.
They are Ciaran O'Reilly 46, an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop 34, a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran 26, Karen Fallon 35, a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy 36, a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.
The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 am when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.
Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.
Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget's crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.
The hearing continues in legal argument before Judge Miriam Reynolds.

author by Rpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 17:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There has been a mainstream media blank on this case for the last 2 weeks. This is an incredibly important case with various twists and turns (Whatever way you look at it) and papers, radio, tv have more or less ignored it - for whatever reason.

This further highlights the importance of indymedia and why it is growing in popularity.

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Green Paddypublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 18:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Clarefm radio seems to give minimal cover each day, as well as the Examiner.

author by Margaretpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 18:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These reports of each day of the trial are taken from the Clare FM website. There is some good detail here and in today's summing up they said that:

"Evidence was given that they honestly believed they were preventing crimes in Iraq and not committing them at Shannon when they damaged the 747 plane."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shannon Airport Compared with Auschwitz in Anti-War Trial

by John Cooke

The trial of five anti-war protesters accused of the criminal damage of a United States Navy aeroplane at Shannon Airport nearly three and a half years ago enters its third day today.

The defendants Ciaran O'Reilly, Damien Moran, Karen Fallon, Nuin Dunlop and Deirdre Clancy all have addresses in Dublin .

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard the accused will admit they carried out certain acts on the aircraft, which was grounded at Shannon Airport on the night of February 3, 2003, but will argue that they had a lawful excuse.

They're also accused of damaging glass door panels at Shannon Airport on the same date.

Yesterday the court heard the group compared the runway at Shannon to the railway tracks leading to Auschwitz, in a statement of faith given to gardai after their arrest.

Garda evidence was given that members of the group struck the nose and exhaust of the plane with hammers and an axe, and knelt to pray when confronted by gardai.

The trial continues before a jury of seven women and five men and Judge Miriam Reynolds.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Protestors beleived they were Preventing Crimes at Shannon

by Bronagh Murphy

One of the five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport has told a jury she honestly believed that her actions saved lives.

Ms Karen Fallon broke down in tears at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court when asked if the placement of a shrine outside the airport hangar was a stunt to gain publicity.

"Not at all. It was a commemoration for the dead," she replied.

Ms Fallon was giving evidence in her own defence on day three of the trial in which she and four co-accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government, and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta, at Shannon Airport on February 3, 2003.

The accused are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national and Damien Moran (26), Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor, Ms Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.

Mr O’Reilly told Mr John O’Kelly SC, defending, that he had lived and worked as a peace campaigner and charity worker in various parts of the world and came to Ireland in 2002 where he became concerned with the "militarisation of Shannon".

Mr O’Reilly, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement, said he decided to take direct action at the airport to "non-violently disarm the war machine deploying from Shannon" and "enact the prophesies of Isaiah to beat our swords into ploughshares and study war no more".

He said the group entered the hangar by breaking a locked side door: "We discovered an emergency door and pressed the bar as we considered it to be an emergency situation. We named the hangar for what we saw it was, a pit stop for death," he said in reference to spray painting done by the group outside the hangar door.

Mr O’Reilly described Shannon as "a place of repair and nourishment for the US military" and said "death seemed to be stopping at Shannon".

He said his intention was to disable the plane, disrupt deployment and preserve life and property. He also expressed a hope that his actions would send out a "call" to others to undertake further non violent action.

He said: "I went to Shannon to stop a crime, not commit one. That was my honest belief."

Under cross examination by Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, Mr O’Reilly denied a suggestion that items were brought to the scene to form a ‘shrine’ "in order to achieve maximum publicity for what you believed in".

He also denied Mr Devally’s suggestion that he had acted violently in hitting the plane with a mattock or axe and said he had used force against an inanimate object in a non-violent act against the "machinery of violence".

Mr Devally put it to Mr O’Reilly that he had taken the law into his own hands and had welcomed his arrest and trial in order to bring attention to the issue. Mr O’Reilly agreed that he had not explored the possibility of taking a legal challenge to the use of Shannon Airport and said he had not as the war was imminent and the legal process would have taken too long.

The jury earlier heard a lone Garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock. They were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then kneeled in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.

The jury heard that items including copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

The hearing continues before Judge Miriam Reynolds and a jury of seven women and five men

Friday, July 14, 2006

Anti-War Protestors Had "a good idea" they'd be arrested

by Bronagh Murphy

One of the five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport has told a jury that she "had a pretty good idea" that she might be arrested.

Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor living at Rialto Cottages, Rialto, denied that her actions were political and calculated to draw attention to activities at Shannon. She also denied that she and her co-accused had anticipated that they would be brought to trial and looked forward to it.

Ms Dunlop was giving evidence in her own defence on day four of the trial in which five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.

The accused are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national, Damien Moran (26), Ms Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf and Ms Dunlop.

Ms Dunlop told the jury she thought dismantling the plane could save lives and she genuinely believed there were weapons on board the aircraft which would be used to kill people in Iraq.

Under cross examination she denied a suggestion from Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that her actions were a "call to arms" to rally people to her cause.

The jury earlier heard a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock. They were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then kneeled in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.

The jury heard that items including copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

The hearing continues before Judge Miriam Reynolds and a jury of seven women and five men.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anti War Trial Hears Iraq War was "considered illegal"

by Bronagh Murphy

During the lead up to and following the war in Iraq the consensus among the international legal community was that the war was "clearly illegal", a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Dr Jean Allain, of Queen’s University, Belfast and an expert in international law, was giving evidence on day six of the trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport

The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.

The accused are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran (26), Karen Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.

Following a day and a half of legal argument Dr Allain was called to give evidence by the defence.

He told Mr Giollaiosa O Lideadha BL, defending Mr O’Reilly and Mr Moran, that there were only two situations in which a war would be legal: if the Security Council of the United Nations agreed to it or if a country was acting in self defence.

He said that the general consensus of opinion among legal scholars was that the USA had acted in violation of those principles.

Under cross examination by Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, Dr Allain agreed that he was not aware of any domestic courts in the United Kingdom or elsewhere which had "attempted to grapple with this issue".

The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.

Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.

Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

The hearing continues before Judge Miriam Reynolds and a jury of seven women and five men.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Legal Argument continues in Shannon Anti-War Trial

by Bronagh Murphy

The trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport has continued in legal argument in the absence of the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

All evidence has now been heard for the prosecution and defence and closing speeches are expected to be heard at the completion of legal argument.

The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.

They are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran (26), Karen Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.

The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.

Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.

Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

The hearing continues before Judge Miriam Reynolds.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Closing Arguments to be Heard in Shannon Anti-War Trial

by Bronagh Murphy

All evidence has now been heard in the trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport.
Closing speeches are expected to be heard following legal argument in the absence of the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The final witness for the defence, antiwar activist Ms Kathy Kelly, told the jury that she had met the five accused at the St Brigid's Festival in Kildare prior to their action at Shannon. She told them of her personal experience in Iraq and of the consequences of economic sanctions in that country.
Under cross examination she told Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, "had the US public understood fully the impact of economic sanctions in Iraq I don’t think they would have stood for it".
The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.
They are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran (26), Karen Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.
The jury has been told that a lone Garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.
Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.
Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.
The hearing continues in legal argument before Judge Miriam Reynolds

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Closing Speeches Heard in Anti-War Trial

by Bronagh Murphy

Closing speeches have been heard in the trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport.
Judge Miriam Reynolds is expected to send the jury to begin its deliberations tomorrow at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.
They are Ciaran O’Reilly (46), an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop (34), a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran (26), Karen Fallon (35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.
The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45 a.m. when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.
Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.
Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jury to Retire in Shannon Anti-War Trial

by John Cooke

The jury in the trial of five antiwar protesters accused of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport over three years ago is expected to retire to consider a verdict later today.
The three women and two men have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States Government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon on February 3rd 2003.
Evidence concluded earlier this week though the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has been delayed due to legal argument in the absence of the jury.
The jury of seven women and five men has heard that a lone Garda was on duty in the hangar at Shannon in the early hours of February 3rd 2003 when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard they were shouting "some words of God" and used the items to hit the plane, before kneeling in a circle to pray until gardai disarmed and arrested them.
Religious items and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine.
Ciaran O’Reilly, Nuin Dunlop, Damien Moran, Karen Fallon and Deirdre Clancy all with addresses in Dublin deny the charges against them claiming they had lawful excuse to disable the US Plane.
Evidence was given that they honestly believed they were preventing crimes in Iraq and not committing them at Shannon when they damaged the 747 plane.
The jury will consider its verdict after Judge Miriam Reynolds delivers her closing charges.

Jury in anti-war trial to consider verdict Monday
by Bronagh Murphy
The jury in the trial of a group of anti-war campaigners on trial for causing criminal damage to An American plane at Shannon Airport over 3 years ago will not consider a verdict until Monday.
Judge Miriam Reynolds is expected to send the seven women and five men to begin their deliberations, once she's completed her directions to them when Dublin Circuit Court sits again on Monday.

author by coughpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.clarefm.ie/

author by suporterpublication date Fri Jul 21, 2006 18:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon on February 3rd 2003."

I hadn't realised you unable to avoid damaging Aer Rianta property too in you attempt to preven lose of life well done :)

author by LBpublication date Sat Jul 22, 2006 00:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tim: assume Brendan Nix S.C. was the barrister making reference to the sermon on the mount?

Indeed it was. My report did not do justice to his oratory, and I'm afraid it's beyond my ability to render his speech into writing!

Lawful excuse is the heart of the matter and to summarise drastically, it will be up to the jury to decide on the evidence presented over the last couple of weeks whether damaging the plane was a reasonable action to save lives and property, given the beliefs of the defendants. It is worth that it is up to prosecution to prove that their action was not reasonable. As opposed to the defence having to prove that it was.

author by Court Reporterpublication date Sat Jul 22, 2006 19:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr Devally

He thanked the jury for their patience and said he had to make an apology at the outset. He had omitted to say that all accused in every trial comes with a Presumption of Innocence. The Judge told you about half way though the trial. It means that all accused of any crime are innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence is very important because it means that it's up to the Prosecution to prove each element of the case and to negative every element of the Defence in all matters. This presumption of innocence goes all the way from the beginning to the end of a trial

The presumption is only displaced if and when the jury decide otherwise.

Mr Devally apologised for this omission and said that it probably had happened because of the unusual nature of this case. Usually there had to be debates about the facts of what had happened but here there was no dispute about the main facts - none of the five was saying "I wasn't there" and none of them was saying "I didn't know what I was doing". The accused admitted through their Statement of Faith that they did the action - there was no argument about this. So the sting of the Prosecution had been removed - it was an unusual case.

The jury has to deal with the facts of the case and there is not a great deal of controversy concerning the facts.: On 3 February 2003 all five defendants (named) entered Shannon airport, went to the hangar, erected a shrine, looked under a door to see a US Navy plane, smashed the glass to open the door, surprised the sole Garda present in the hangar, used a mattock and hammers to damage the plane - the jury would see the pictures of the damage caused.

Mr Devally said that what was in dispute - and the job of the jury to decide - was whether or not what they did amounted to an act of criminal damage, or whether they had a lawful excuse.

All four of us (he and the Defence Counsels) will do our best to explain the law, but the judge is the final person whose interpretation of the meaning of the law must be accepted.

The section of the Criminal Damage Act under which the defendants have been accused is:
In Section the words

"A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence."

In the present case there is no question of the accused being reckless - they intended to do what they did.

The accused used different wording in giving their reasons. They all agreed on the wording “to beat swords into ploughshares.”

The operations man at Shannon airport gave evidence that no one had permission to enter there other than the Garda and the U.S. military and other such authorized persons. This is not in dispute.

The plane belonged to the U.S. Navy. This is not in dispute.

All that is left re this section of the charge is the question of lawful excuse. Do you accept from the evidence volunteered by the accused that they had Lawful Excuse? All the other elements of a crime are there.

The Criminal Damage Act 1991 states:

"A person charged with an offence to which this section applies shall, whether or not he would be treated for the purposes of this Act as having a lawful excuse apart from this subsection, be treated for those purposes as having a lawful excuse . . .

( c ) if he damaged or threatened to damage the property in question .... in order to protect himself or another or property belonging to himself or another ... . and, at the time of the act or acts alleged to constitute the offence, he believed

(i) that he or that other or the property, right or interest was in immediate need of protection, and

(ii) that the means of protection adopted or proposed to be adopted were or would be reasonable having regard to all the circumstances."

There were long hours of debate in your absence, and it wasn’t idle debate, as to how the Judge should guide your interpretation of the law.

Mr. Devally then said he would present his effort to help. He asked the jurors to consider whether or not the act was reasonable by imagining what was going on in the minds of the accused...was there a line there which if they crossed it, it would be unlawful...a line what’s going on in the minds…

There are subjective and objective facts or sets of circumstances. With regard to the subjective feature in assessing each one (we have their Statement of Faith)
you must give the accused the benefit of the doubt

In the subjective analysis you consider two things: (a) the circumstances as the accused believed them to be, and (b) was their action reasonable

(a) the circumstances as the accused believed them to be: There were very wide geopolitical factors involved. The use of Shannon Airport (for an impending war) They wanted to prevent an attack. They knew the plane had been already damaged by Mary Kelly
(b) the reasonableness of their action: their belief is that their act was reasonable because of the violent acts to be perpetrated in Iraq, that the plane at Shannon had a part to play in these acts and that there was no "legal" way open to them to stop these acts

That's the subjective test - what the accused believed to be the circumstances and reasonable

But we can still ask, for the objective task, was it reasonable?

We know that hey acted with great sincerity. Their conscience is not on trial. Their morals are not on trial
We’re not here to condemn their view.

Were their acts reasonable? Did they have reasonably held beliefs?

It’s difficult to disentangle lawful acts mores from actions that cannot be allowed
It's not offensive to suggest that the process that brought them to Kildare, what they heard there, (which we know) from the moving evidence of Kathy Kelly, suggests that they share a lot in common

But there are five trials for criminal damage to the door
There are five trials for criminal damage to the plane

They have been waiting for this trial for a long time, living in a black hole, never reaching a judge ….this has been hanging over them for a long time
(I never thought I would be giving this presentation in court!) They have been very patient

At the same time, they went through a process in Shannon airport that led to this

Prosecution represents DPP law office on behalf of the people. I have no axe to grind for the U.S. or George W. Bush, I’m acting for the DPP to prosecute a criminal act.

I’m one Senior Counsel) The accused have three. In fairness, hey could have had five and miffed the system.

Mr O’Kelly beguiles jurors and I’m afraid of him

Mr. Nix is the last of the great orators.

Mr O’Higgins is widely respected and acknowledged and very analytical.

And it is the right of the accused to have the best representation in a full trial

We should all be proud of this. This is a full and a safe trial

Now, in his evidence, Ciaron O’Reilly said The Statement of Faith was an explanation, not a justification. I have said that they were sincere, not a sham. Still,
I have challenged one aspect.
They are sincere
This is not a sham
But were they trying to do something more nebulous, something symbolic, something that was political ? Have we not heard this even from their own mouths, supported possibly by Kathy Kelly

They said they have a lawful excuse because the act was done to protect others. Was there a lawful excuse because the act was done to protect others?

On February 15 2003, people marched to avert war,I walked in a march, all those who marched were protesting in order to save lives, to avert war.
Those who marched were saying: “We don’t like this.” Irish public opinion said: “Please stop this war.”

The accused differed. One of them said, “If I save one life in Iraq it’s worth it.”. and told you under oath or affirmation "It was all I could do"
But that motivation is not a lawful excuse to damage property.

When they were asked, “Did you do this to save lives in Iraq?” their reply was, “Yes.”
But they also said other things to show their true belief.

Ciaron O’Reilly is an articulate man, he frustrated me, gave a lot of information regarding why he did what he did, …to save lives, but he also gave other motives as part of his evidence: He said it was a call to others to carry out non-violent resistance to war He believed Shannon could become a terrorist target. He wanted people to seriously reflect on nonviolent action He was putting out a call to others to take nonviolent action
He described the Catholic Worker commitment to face responsibility.
.
This is not a lawful excuse

If a building is on fire or about to be set on fire in my belief, I would have lawful excuse to smash the door even if it turned out (that the fire was harmless)
I could explain to the jury that I had a reasonably held belief

Suppose I have a political belief that smoking tobacco is an addiction that kills. I go to Dundalk and burn a shipment of tobacco bales before shipment to a third world country where they don’t have a health regime and can’t educate people about the effects of smoking. And I tell the Garda I was saving life

You may feel the action of the defendants was a call to arms to raise the conscience of the Irish people concerning what was happening in Iraq.
The circumstances include not just what they think of Madeleine Albright's (comment on the 500,000 children killed by sanctions in Iraq)

But also this is a democracy. We have a police, we have elected representatives. Our democracy, like all democracies, may be imperfect
The essence of a democracy is imperfection. History is littered with efforts to create a perfect state. Efforts to create perfect societies have led to fascism and totalitarianism.

(In a democracy) there are other things we can do. For example, We can be in NGOs. Indeed Ciaron O’Reilly works in a wet shelter. This must be very difficult work

Our case is that in their long distance intervention that may have saved lives somewhere, all five defendants (named) overstepped the line.
Ciaron O'Reilly broke the door broke the door because it was an emergency. Yet they went on a retreat for four days. This was a calculated act ultimately to avert a war. They took the law into their own hands

We live in a country that has law, a system, a vote, a voice. They said that’s not good enough, we will do something more. They had no lawful excuse. No emergency.

They made an eloquent statement

Damien Moran said he looked forward to being put on trial to test the conscience of the Irish people.
Where do we stop.?

(If someone is drunk and about to get into a car and you go over and assault the person in an effort to prevent him from getting in (and possibly killing someone) that would be reasonable.)
But that's not what happened in this case

In this case, the five have contributed to the action. .Your consciousness may have been raised during the trial.

Deirdre was asked about what would constitute success. She had replied that for her (it would have been) success if other Irish citizens had taken part.
This was her mission.

Kathy Kelly said the purpose of Voices in the Wilderness was to dramatize a challenge to economic sanctions. She described the horror of economic warfare waged through use of economic sanctions; she was here to show what she experienced and how she influenced the five; she gave moving evidence; she spoke of the strong responsibility we have to stop others from going to war…

All five were raising public opinion to stop others from going to war. This is laudable. But is it reasonable, N

It is not a lawful excuse

Each of the hammers has wording, that is making statements (I’m not here to condemn the five but to prosecute a crime) There is a list of other things too that were at the shrine. a Koran, a Bible, candles photos blown up - these are reverential but also making a statement

The five were influenced by Kathy Kelly and she quoted Madeleine Albright's dreadful comment about the children ....(A political statement)
….

Here is another example: people are locked in a room and degrading actions are being done to them I break the lock It turns out there were policemen present should I have asked the police first?

Ed Horgan brought an action to the Courts to prevent the government from using Shannon because he thought it was unconstitutional. Eoin Dubsky did similarly.
At least one of the accused knew of these actions. Not one of them went to a lawyer but had a view on what the law was. They said that the Irish Constitution didn't allow this (the use of Shannon airport by US military)

Only you can decide if it’s reasonable

They knew we have a democracy, a system

If there is criminal activity or threat (unless, as indicated, there is a burning building) we don’t set up checkpoints, vigilantes or posses or take law into their own hands.

What they did was very brave, hats off to them

They did what they did, they knew it was criminal . It was a conscience raising exercise And they looked forward to this trial

You must decide whether what they did falls on the wrong side of the line

Democracy does not allow people to take the law up into their own hands.
Rallying organization

A suicide bomber may feel zeal and a strong cause

The defendants are not driven to such extreme actions
They had time to reflect (four days)

The people who marched (in Ireland against the war in Feb 1993) didn’t burn down an Embassy.

The defendants have the best defence and they are entitled to it.

But they are self appointed individuals who are not delegated to decide what our law should be. In fairness to them, they also took on themselves
The five took it on themselves to face the consequences of what they did. They don’t hit and fllit They faced responsibility for their actions

You have a tough decision to make and I know you’ll face it

Final point: Dr. Jean Allain said that the war was an international crime He’s not relevant to the defence or the honest belief of the accused.defence
I would suggest that his evidence should not be a consideration as to what lawful excuse was

Were they there to save life or raise consciousness?
It is agreed that all four did give as their reason that they wanted to save life. They added other added other reasons such as having responsibility. showing solidarity, urgency and an act of prayer. One hoped that others would respond.. Another hoped their action would be a rallying call. Another spoke of breaches of international Law and divine law. Another hoped to save life and thought what she was doing was the only thing she could do.

Mr Devally said the jury had a difficult case; it was a difficult task

Regarding Mr. Oxley’s evidence, he had said that if five Iraqis took out a plane it would have been an act of war. It would have been a pre-emptive strike.
But the defendants were not Iraqi insurgents

He also said that you could not rule out or rule in the possibility that taking out a support plane could damage the enemy.
This reminds me of the Chaos theory and the butterfly effect – if a butterfly flaps its wings here (or if Mr Nix sneezes) it might cause a tsunami on the other end of the world.
Mr Oxley's reply means that you can' rule it out and you can't rule it in. That’s all he said. That means it’s a possibility, not a probability.
Mary Kelly had damaged a plane a week before. They were aware of it

I asked Ciaron O'Reilly if he was optimistic .(about the success of his action) and he finally acknowledged that he was expecting to be arrested
I asked him why he had said earlier that he wanted to put the war on trial, he said at that time ("War on Trial") was referring to a series of events that were happening around the city.

Ciaron O’Reilly whacked the plane. Karen Fallon did very little, but all had a common design and all accept responsibility

You must be rational, cool , not callous Don’t let your feelings get in the way. There was not an emergency. It is not for them to say that my Constitution should be interpreted as they saw it

author by Court Reporterpublication date Sat Jul 22, 2006 19:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MR O'KELLY

For Ciaron O’Reilly and Damien Moran

You will decide. In this trial as in any other trial, you are the judges, you alone decide. The judge has a different role. The judge is the final arbiter in all questions of
Law and the Judge insures that the trial is conducted in a fair manner - and it is.

On issues of fact you alone must decide

Mr Devally has said that you have a very difficult task, I agree .It is very difficult to determine the guilt or innocence of another . But you are not alone. A set of principles goes in with you to the jury room

I will try clearly to outline some main points of these principles for you - and for any juror

THREE PRINCIPLES: Presumption of Innocence, "Lawful excuse" defence, and "Beyond reasonable doubt"

1 ) Presumption of innocence.

This means that the accused come in to court wearing a mantle of innocence. Innocent until you, the jury decide otherwise. You the jury come from different backgrounds. None of you are trained lawyers. Experience over the years has shown that a verdict arrived at by people like you, who have taken an oath,
is the best way for accused persons to get a fair verdict

What does presumption of innocence mean? (Remember that Presumption of Innocence goes through every strand of the trial from beginning to end).
We look at any piece of evidence from the standpoint of presuming innocence. The accused must get the benefit of the doubt ….
With regard to the presumption of innocence, as Mr. Devally said.: If you were charged, would you look for anything less?

Mr Devally made a very good speech, but I must criticize it on a number of issues. Don't be misled. First let me say that the most important elements in a trial are the Principles and the Evidence.

Mr Devally said it is an unusual trial. Yes this is true. Nevertheless, the same essentials are there as for every other trial. The prosecution bears the burden of proving that there are offences and also every element of the (alleged) offences. In this case, the Prosecution must disprove the possibility of lawful excuse. In a criminal trial, there is a a time honoured standard to resort to, and it is called "beyond reasonable doubt".

Mr. Devally said at a certain stage he was talking about a line over which you cannot go. He suggested that there was a line between, say, Protesting on one side and Damaging a Plane on the other side.
Now this has absolutely nothing to do with what we are here about.
There is a statutory defence that we cannot remove and it’s called Beyond Reasonable Doubt. Mr Devally’s imaginary line and a certain movement of his hands suggests that you might have to balance probabilities. This is nothing to do with it. The standard is Beyond Reasonable Doubt.
It’s not a question of there being two sides and "Do you prefer this or that?"

We’re here to try defendants in relation to a particular criminal offence, not to examine a continuum of options for action
The burden is on the prosecution to prove every element of the alleged offence, beyond reasonable doubt

2) Beyond Reasonable Doubt

What is a reasonable doubt? There is no definition but you can arrive at a meaning of it by examples.

Suppose you decide to change your job and you are reasonably happy, but then your partner raises serious questions such as "when am I going to be able to see you ?". . - now you go back on your decision

Or you wake up at 3 a.m. and say, “I wonder”

3 Lawful Excuse

On the question of having lawful excuse: Remember when you use the defence of lawful excuse, the accused person does not have to prove it, but prosecution must convince you - also beyond reasonable doubt - that a lawful excuse does NOT apply

THE EVIDENCE

Mr O'Kelly mentioned the witnesses who gave evidence on both sides. He said you look to the evidence you heard from all of them and then you apply a principle.

As Mr. Devally said, the accused freely admit that they went into the Shannon airport hangar, damaged a plane, intended to make it unflyable, and told us why
In Damien Moran's words it was not to commit a crime but to save life

Dr. Allain gave evidence as a leading academic - The war (in Iraq) was a crime under international law. This was not challenged
He also said that the majority of international lawyers hold the view that the war violated international law
So when Ciaron O’Reilly and Damien Moran said this war was illegal they were in agreement with a majority of international lawyers.

You must bear this in mind regarding the reasonableness of their beliefs.

But the prosecution says that their purpose was much more, that they wanted to draw attention to a forthcoming humanitarian catastrophe.
This doesn’t take away, in any way, from their main motive. Of course, they also hoped to get others to come out.
They wanted to save a life. The former doesn’t take away the main motive.
The fact of having a broader intention doesn’t take away their intention to save a life.

Mr. Oxley - a man of impeccable military background, not a supporter of the war or against the war, came as an independent witness regarding military logistics
Part of his evidence was that there are certain military actions that you know will have consequences on other military actions.
For example, in war, you try to damage the other side’s war machine so as to damage or undermine their capacity to wage war

At the end of the last world war, in 1944, the Germans were losing. They broke through the Ardennes forest.and then swept the Allies before them all the way to the Channel, but were stopped there - not by the US or UK or the Allies but because they ran out of fuel.
Because logistics are important in a war. And if you can disable an essential part of a support system for war you could, down the line, affect the ability to launch an attack
So if I do the disabling (in a war situation) how can I not say I am trying to save a life ?

Looking at the Act, and the Amended Act, under which the defendants are charged, The criminal damage Act 1991 amended by the Non Fatal Offences against the Persons Act 1997, notice it is strictly talking about damage to property, not to life.. It's not as if the law is saying that it would be alright to put a bomb under a plane (to prevent it from going to Iraq) as this would itself endanger life. Mr Devally mentioned that it was necessary that there be an immediate danger threatening (for lawful excuse to hold) but he is mistaken in this. The so-called immediacy clause was taken out by the Oireachtas in 1997 and now reads:
So anticipation that there must be immediate harm does not apply.
5000 miles was a long distance long ago. Now we can go that distance in 4 hours.

In the 1991 Criminal damage Act 5.3,. in relation to lawful excuse it says: "For the purposes of this section it is immaterial whether a belief is justified or not if it is honestly held"

Ciaron O’Reilly and Damien Moran went into a hangar to disable a war plane with the honestly held belief that it was going to kill
They had spoken to Kathy Kelly a few days before. Kathy Kelly is an impressive speaker and also a person who from 1991 until the Féile Bride had gone to Iraq 21 times. The last time was in Christmas of 2002 and she was on her way back there in January 2003 to stand with people in an impending war. She gave her speech and showed photos to the five defendants.
Both Ciaron O'Reilly and Damien Moran say she was a special person and that she gave a first hand account
Also they had heard Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
On foot of what they heard, the defendants decided to do a Ploughshares Action

A Ploughshares Action is a form of action developed over time in the United States. You try to make your action, however small, damage a war effort and let others know what is going on If one child is saved that is an achievement.

In law, you don’t have to be certain that an action will succeed…what you need is honest belief
If you have no reasonable doubt that they had honest belief in what they did. you should acquit

The Prosecution accepts that the intention of the accused wasn't in question. All the Prosecution is saying is that (their action) wasn't reasonable.
Mr Devally mentioned the "Butterfly effect" but mention of this popular science theory in this context seriously distorts Mr. Oxley’s evidence.

He said he couldn’t rule it out that damaging a logistics plane would save a life - in other words it’s a possibility

Defendants say that if we put one plane out of action, we are stopping an action down the line

Something done on the ground in Ireland can have an effect on something happening
Mr. Oxley was asked if actions such as this could not save lives, he held a reasonable belief : maybe
Is it unreasonable, when Mr. Oxley says so, for the defendants to have thought so?

Towards the end of his speech, Mr Devally strayed a bit. Remember, whether you approve or don’t approve of the defendants' action has nothing to do with it,

They thought it right The law says they don’t have to be right in their honest belief

None of us is suggesting that the defendants' action is being prosecuted or defended because we are either for or against the war.

They are charged with damaging property without lawful excuse
You must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they had no lawful excuse

author by Court Reporterpublication date Sat Jul 22, 2006 20:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They are charged with damaging property without lawful excuse
You must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they had no lawful excuse
Otherwise you must acquit

author by Court Reporterpublication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 09:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr. Nix (for Karen Fallon)

"Mr. Devally dumbed himself down and damned us with faint praise!".

I looked up the word "parable" in the dictionary and learned it referred
to a short story . . said Mr Nix.

Then Mr. Nix offered a parable.

A young student is a baggage handler working at an airport. He overhears
a conversation in which a man speaking on the phone says that at a
certain time on a certain Airbus plane, when it takes off, "the door
will fall off and kill the bastard." The student thinks to himself what
should he do and he runs to the plane and deflates the tire so that it
can’t take off, and the person will not be killed.
When they check the doors of the plane there’s nothing wrong with it.
But a few days later another plane takes off and the door does fall off
and kills the fellow.

Mr. Devally has said the action of these defendants was a political act.
I'll tell you of some one who made a great political speech, the
greatest political speech of all time and that's Jesus Christ. And the
name of the political speech he made was "The Sermon on the Mount".
You'll find it in Matthew chapter 5.verses 3 to 10 This is what it says:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall
have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs
is the kingdom of heaven".

These are the words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Jesus is
one of the greatest pacifists that ever lived on this earth.

Now Lebanon is burning. Today children swimming in a pool were bombed. A
swimming pool is now filled with burning children.
This is war
People in Gaza are suffering and children dying.

Now, I ask you: Would you take an axe to destroy an Israeli plane or a
Hizbullah rocket?

We may ask "What is good?" Forest Gump’s mother has the answer: “Good is
as good does.”

Today there are a lot of a la carte Catholics. They go to the sacraments
for weddings and baptisms. The children make their first Communion. They
go to confession now and then. They pick and choose

The trouble is, these people here (these defendants) believe what they
are saying.

To work in a wet hostel - that's not easy.

The Commandments can all be summed up in one maxim: Love God and your
neighbour.
If everyone followed this Commandment there would be no war

You have been given in evidence of an uncontested statistic: more than
500,000 children under 5 years of age killed by the sanctions in Iraq.
If one thousand children had been so killed in Ireland, there would be
outrage. There's another statistic uncontested: 1.5 million people died
in Iraq because of the UN sanctions. That's a quarter of the number who
were killed in the Holocaust.
Now I want to ask you: If you knew and cared, would you do something?

Christ went to Gethsemane. These five went to Glenstal.

Madeleine Albright's most recent quote is in Newsweek magazine. She says
that the US War in Iraq will be seen as the worst foreign policy failure
in US history

What would rise you to action?

If a child’s plastic ball rolled into the street and the child ran after
it, would you leave it to the Garda to go after the child?

Or if a child’s beach ball went into the water, and the child went into
the water and risked drowning, would you leave it to the life guards

If a child has both knees cut, would you leave it to the parents to
bring the child to the Out Patient’s

If a woman’s handbag is snatched, would you help her or just leave it to
the Garda?

If it happened on a bus, would you intervene or leave it to the bus driver?

What would drive you to action?

All of us may have lost parents…. Suppose my father has died and I come
out of the mortuary to hear people having a silly argument about a
matter of no importance. Nobody knows of my father's death.. . You begin
to think about what is important. To get a sense of proportion.

Iraqis have died. And these people here are such believers and have such
honestly held beliefs that for them there are no strangers.

You get a sense of proportion

If someone was grieving would you go over to them and share your own
grief with them?

I was in a park today and two children were being followed by a
duck.…There was the sound of children playing in the yard close by -
children playing in a yard . . ., and a band was playing ..and there was
no drunkenness.
A sound of universal happiness is the sound of children playing.

At that same time, Lebanon and Hezbollah were hammering the shite

And I asked myself "What right have I to be happy?" Where is our shared
humanity?
If anyone of us is cut, do we not bleed?

I am a free born man because others made sacrifices. If there are more
who make sacrifices there will be more free people and there will. be an
end to war.
The people who gave me my freedom were treated as treasonous people.

My clients didn’t go in to the airport with bombs or guns
You heard the Sergeant give evidence that Ciaron O'Reilly went over to
comfort him when he was in shock.

Yet Mr. Devally says an emergency is needed….

People have been rendered for torture

We heard lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Lies.

We heard there were prisoners in shackles.
In Shannon recently one prisoner was found on a US plane in shackles and
they said, “Oh, that’s one of our own.” How can we believe them?

Was the action of the five defendants a publicity stunt? NO.

We get statistics about the number of US and UK soldiers killed but we
don’t hear the number of Iraqis killed in the war

Then you hear this phrase "Collateral damage" - a pornographic phrase.
Anyone who uses this phrase has no respect for human life, they have no
regret and
they are prepared to do it again and again

These planes were going through our airport to war in Iraq.

What motivated our Catholic Workers to damage a plane with obvious
damage? Karen Fallon wants world peace. She acted out of conscience to
decommission a warplane

She comes back out of conscience to her trial because she said she would

Should people who act out of conscience be labelled as having extreme views?

Bound by her conscience she was moved to actions

I ask the Jury for an acquittal

author by Court Reporterpublication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 09:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr. O’Higgins (for Deirdre Clancy and Nuin Dunlop)

In this case there are big questions of life, of evidence of law
For your own patience and good humour, thank you.

Issues of applying law in this case are not that difficult and I'll sum
it up under six headings in the form of questions. (The first two
questions can be answered in a minute or two. All six will encompass
what you need to know.)

1). What did the accused do?

2). Why did they do it?

3). Is the action justified in law? Regarding lawful excuse: the state
must exclude evidence beyond reasonable doubt

4).Were their actions reasonable?

5). What is the State’s case?

6) Who are the accused?

Answers:

1) What did the accused do? They disabled an American warplane on the
eve of what was anticipated to be and turned out to be a bloody war.

2) Why? No one phrase can answer this for even one of them. All of them
had a primary reason, namely to protect the lives of people who would be
the end "receivers" of this war. To protect property too maybe but,
first of all, lives They wanted to protect lives and infrastructure
There were complementary reasons maybe. I am not attempting to avoid
that. On the contrary I embrace that fact.

3) Is the action justified in law? They’re not hillbillies or
vigilantes, --not seeking to ram their views down anyone’s throats, not
looking for any favours; they simply ask meekly and humbly that the law
be applied
--protect life and property
--honest belief that the action was necessary
--it must have been reasonable in circumstances as they believe them to be.

Iraq was on its knees – this is not an empty belief. Band their belief
that the war was illegal was well-supported. The plane was damaged -
there is no issue here
You could ask: Was there a lawful excuse?

By the way, the accused do not have to prove they had a lawful excuse.
The state must exclude it. If you are doubtful, you must bring in a
verdict of not guilty.

I am here for Deirdre Clancy and Nuin Dunlop.

There are three building blocks.

i Was the damage inflicted to protect life or property

ii Did they have an honest belief that it was necessary

iii Was the action taken reasonable in the circumstances as they
believed them to be

i You have heard the evidence - they did what they did to save lives

ii Their belief was that the war in Iraq was imminent The fact that it
came on 23/3 is utterly irrelevant. What is relevant is what did they
believe? I’ll headline the factors on which : their belief was based

a) The Desert Storm war
b) Regular bombing missions (from Kathy Kelly’s evidence)
c) 1991 and well beyond “collateral damage” and sanctions causing the
deaths of over 500,000 children, and at the outbreak of war, Iraq was
completely vulnerable to any further attack
d) The war was illegal. Leading academics’ view coincided with
defendants' view. So these are not fringe people - their views are
supported in the highest echelons. The UNICEF figures speak for themselves.
Now, all of these beliefs were well founded. The prosecution doesn’t
dispute this.

iii Was the action taken reasonable in the circumstances as they
believed them to be?
In assessing reasonableness, you must look at the questions What did
they believe and What did they achieve

a.– what did they believe?

Their information has an input into their reasonableness. These people
had carefully researched the matter. They had carefully checked,
researched and compiled their research. If you measure their action on
the basis of this, they score highly

b. – what did they achieve?
t
The supply plane was out of circulation for 3 months
Mr. Oxley is an expert, and he couldn’t exclude the possibility that a
life was saved. This element is uncontradicted. The fluttering
butterflies theory is not evidence. The State has no end of military
experts' evidence available to them but there was no challenge any of
them to Mr Oxley.
The evidence was in the case and the Prosecution must exclude it. The
slate cannot be wiped clean on Mr Oxley
If you can’t exclude it on an objective basis, the conclusion is obvious

Also, Mr. Devally said the accused may have had other reasons, such as
to raise consciousness, get others to join, etc., and that that, somehow
or other, weakens the reasonableness of their actions.
Raising consciousness doesn’t weaken the reasonableness of acting to
save a life
The question maybe that we should be asking is: Why does the vast
majority do nothing?
We all read about the sanctions - Why did we just continue on?

Mr. Nix elicited that the whole number who died because of sanctions in
Iraq was one quarter of the Holocaust figure. Germany in ’39 is not
equal to Ireland in 2003 Germany in the 30s was gripped by a
totalitarian regime. Ireland in 2003 was not. Yet, the question must be
asked "Why did no-one speak out about the sanction deaths in Iraq? Mr
Nix said that if there were even a thousand deaths of children in
Ireland, there would be an outcry. - Is he over optimistic
In Turkey the average age is 57. Our own Travellers - how many are over
over 57? But we don’t see it

Three years later, the Events of 2003 have faded. In that year we were
in the eighth year of the Celtic Tiger. There was a great fear of going
back to the bad times - economically - that we had come through. It
became clear in the debate of the time that what the Government was
doing (in letting the US military use Shannon) was based on their fear
that (US) Companies would get up and go and the economy would regress.
The economy was the important factor.
If you disagree with this viewpoint, fair enough; but if you agree, you
then begin to understand how we can see 1.5 million people die and take
no action to prevent it.

The Germans who stayed silent during the Holocaust were not bad people
The Irish who didn’t get angry were not bad people - they were just
people who were wrapped up in their own business

When you do something, as Nuin Dunlop did, you don’t know whether or not
the effect will gather the force of a tsunami
History has shown that people who go against the grain make a
difference. You can’t conclude it won’t make a difference
What you can say is that it’s reasonable to assume that it might make a
difference

Rosa Parks got on a bus and set off a chain reaction. Black people were
marching all over America. So much so that their feet were sore, but
their souls were resting.

In 1985 there were horrific pictures of famine in Ethiopia. Children
were shown on TV dying. Bob Geldof decided to have a concert - several
said he was irresponsible, propping up corrupt regimes. Then he got an
idea - to synchronize pictures of the famine with songs. The result was
phenomenal
On the 20th anniversary of Live Aid one of those dying children took the
stage.

An idea is a very powerful thing
Deidre Clancy said that what she hoped for was naïve. We need naïve
people if we are to have a better future. The fact that they don’t
realise their hopes doesn’t mean that the act was unreasonable. Remember
Bob Geldof

Robert McCartney was killed (according to consensus of public opinion)
by the IRA. His sisters said We are not going to concede that what went
before, was going to happen again, they stood up and spoke out . . .and
this too has caused profound change

An idea is a very powerful thing. Beating swords into ploughshares is an
idea that they sought to advance.

Mr. Devally was very complimentary towards us. He is regarded among
colleagues with affection and respect. They regard many of their
colleagues with respect, but not affection. Others they regard with
affection, but not respect. Toward Mr. Devally, they feel both affection
and respect. He made an apology asking you to convict. But he is an
example of the iron hand in the velvet glove.

His suggestion to you was to decide what the law was. You are here two
weeks and he asks you to decide where the line is between what is lawful
and what is not.
You should not do that. You should pose the questions referable to the act
You should ask: Did they cause damage, What was their purpose, . . .What
were the circumstances and, finally, Was their conduct reasonable in
those circumstances.

Mr Devally said there was no sense of emergency. There does not have to
be an emergency. The law was changed in this respect in 1997. The
requirement of immediacy was removed. The law in 1991 had in it a need
for immediacy, now it is gone. Mr Devally is inclined to ignore this,
but you can't..

Mr Devally gave you two examples to assist you: the examples were not
relevant. If you think there is a hole in the law you should try to
change it
My clients are criticized for having a clear view of what their strategy
was.

They were asked Did you get legal advice. It was suggested there were
alternative remedies e.g. the Garda Síochána. But the Garda are not the
only remedies for
stopping what you consider to be criminal action.

Finally, Mr Devally agrees that these are people with great sincerity
who have suffered. On any audit they have put far more into this than
they can ever get out of it. But they are not professional agitators.
They are professional people who have always worked, honourable people
who have given of their time for others,
They are not seduced by the glossy magazine lifestyle. They are imbued
with great courage.
when they heard that over 500,000 small children had died because of
sanctions they reacted. They said No, we are bound to do something about
this.

Their actions were worthwhile if the jurors are now or ever will be
affected.

It is an enormous privilege for you to have served on this jury.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was suggested there were
alternative remedies e.g. the Garda Síochána. But the Garda are not the
only remedies for
stopping what you consider to be criminal action.


Anyone following any of the Shannon Torture Rendition Planes saga on Indymedia.ie will have noted that Ed Horgan, Conor Cregan, Tim Hourigan et al have all complained to the Gardai about KNOWN CIA torture jets not being searched and about the presence of foreign belligerents outside of and in Shannon airport. Absolutely nothing has been done about these clear, detailed complaints brought by trustworthy members of the public. This is very clear evidence that An Garda Siochana is going to do NOTHING about the presence of foreign belligerents at Shannon airport.

The Pitstops Ploughshares took the only action that brave, level-headed and moral people could take if they wished to stop the slaughter of innocent Iraqis.

author by Fact checkerpublication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 14:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The court reporter for the mainstream media comes in late every morning, frequently only stays five minutes, and doesn't make a secret of her profound boredom with the case. This is illustrated by the fact that all the newspapers have consistently printed very outdated addresses for all the defendants - she wasn't in court when the new addresses were read out. The likes of the Irish Times may get sniffy about the amateur status of the likes of Indymedia at times, but they've no right to when they don't even have decent fact checking themselves. This may be a trivial matter, but it just shows the level of apathy and carelessness we're dealing with here. The mainstream media may feel they're the professionals, but they don't act as such on even the most minor details. (Check out the Irish Times 1916 supplement of several months ago, where they printed what was clearly a still from an old Hollywood film and captioned it as the actual event. When a letter writer pointed out the error, they still wouldn't come out and admit it - professionals my arse.)

It's really valuable to have articulate people willing to do write-ups here on the trial. It's such a pity that the brilliant and moving closing speeches by the defence barristers in this trial weren't covered elsewhere - the mainstream media court reporter wasn't present in court for them. It's pathetic.

author by Mary Kellypublication date Sun Jul 23, 2006 23:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congrats to all involved in supporting the trial of the 5. It was rivetting. Great to see this issue finally get the measured attention it deserves, by a very good legal team for the defence, with excellent witnesses, and the solid testimony and presence of the 5. Well done and good luck to ye all tomorrow. I enclose some powerful words by Howard Zinn on Civil Disobedience, forwarded to me by Niall Fahy on his travels. Beir bua!

A People's History of Sabotage and Civil Disobedience in the US by Howard Zinn
www.indybay.org/news/2006/03/1809451.php

The Boston Tea Party of 1773, which everyone knows about, is
the most striking example in our history of sabotage, done for a noble
purpose, resistance to the tyranny of England. Before that, in 1765,
colonists destroyed stamps to protest the Stamp Act. In the 1850s,
there were a number of instances in which property was destroyed by
anti-slavery groups breaking into courthouses and police stations in
order to rescue ex-slaves being returned to their masters by terms of
the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. For instance, in February 1851, in
Boston, a man known as Shadrach was seized, threatened with return to
slavery. Fifty blacks rescued him from the court room. Eight blacks
and whites were indicted. The jury would not convict.
Later in 1851 in Syracuse, a slave named "Jerry" was rescued by
abolitionists breaking into a police station. Eighteen were indicted.
A jury would not convict them.
The historian Vincent Harding, in THERE IS A RIVER, writes; 'The
struggle over fugitives, heightened over the decades by the relentless
civil disobedience of individuals and committees, played a central
role in forcing the system of slavery to its breaking point."
In the 1930s there were innumerable acts of desperate
people violating property rights to get food for their families.
The sit-down strikes of 1936 and 1937 violated laws of private
property, but were part of a campaign to win rights for workers.
I think while it may be hard to find many instances of
actual sabotage, it is not hard to make a case that acts of civil
disobedience have a noble tradition, that they have played a role in
rectifying injustices, that the courts have acknowledged that free
speech is not confined to verbal behavior but can extend to symbolic
actions. For instance in the 1966 case of "Brown v. Louisiana", the
Supreme Court said that the principle of free speech is "not confined
to verbal expression."
It may be necessary to emphasize the role of civil
disobedience in general, of which sabotage is one possible tactic.
In his book THE WISE MINORITY, Leon Friedman says: "There is hardly a
reform movement in the history of the United States
that did not feel it necessary or desirable to violate established
laws as part of its campaign for justice." Thomas Jefferson said, at
the time of the disruptive acts of Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts in
1786: "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on
certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive."
In their book THE LONGEST DEBATE, Charles and Barbara
Whalen, giving the history of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, point to the great protests in the South of 1963, in 800 cities,
as crucial in getting that Act passed by Congress.
During the Vietnam War, there were many acts of sabotage
involving the destruction of draft records to protest the war. A
number of these people were convicted and sent to jail. But in 1973 in
Camden, New Jersey, where the defendants had destroyed draft
records, they were acquitted by the jury.
In 1974, in Western Massachusetts, the anti-nuclear
protester Sam Lovejoy committed an act of sabotage by toppling a 500
foot tower that had been set up as a precursor to building a nuclear
power plant. This was seen by the judge not as an ordinary crime but
as an act of civil disobedience, and he called off the trial.
In the 1980s, starting with the "Plowshares Eight"
action in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where religious pacifists
poured blood on nuclear missiles, there were many such actions of
sabotage. Some juries found the defendants guilty. In other cases,
there were hung juries. In a few cases there were acquittals. Often
jurors felt forced to a guilty verdict by the instructions of the
judge, though, as one juror said about the 1980 "Plowshares" action:
"I didn't think they really went to commit a crime. They went to
protest...."
In March of 1985, three protesters against nuclear war,
who were charged with "malicious destruction of property" at the
Williams International plant in Walled Lake, Michigan, where the
cruise missile engine is made, were acquitted.
In asking that punishment be mitigated, I think it is
important to emphasize the intent of the defendants, which was not to
cause damage to any human being, but to make a statement about an
important social issue. In short, they are not criminals in the
ordinary sense of the word. Their acts are acts of CIVIL
disobedience, not CRIMINAL disobedience.

Howard Zinn

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