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Kathy Kelly reflects on Closing Speeches in Pit Stop Ploughshares Trial

category dublin | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Tuesday July 25, 2006 07:24author by Kathy Kelly - "Voices for Creative Nonviolence"author address Chicago, Il. USA Report this post to the editors

Kathy Kelly, Catholic Worker & Founder of the nonviolent sanctions busting "Voices in the Wilderness" has been called as a witness in all three Dublin Pit Stop Ploughshares trials.

This July in Dublin, five peace activists were put on trial for disarming a U.S. warplane parked on the tarmac of Ireland's Shannon airport.

In February, 2003, with the U.S. completing its build-up for "Shock and Awe", these five activists broke into an airport hangar which the U.S. was using as a "pit stop" for planes en route to the war zone. They had dubbed themselves the "Pitstop Ploughshares" and, following the biblical injunction to hammer their weapons into plowshares, they took a hammer to the nosecone of a C48 U.S. Navy supply plane and disabled it. You'll find full details at www.peaceontrial.com.

At that time, the world was witnessing the largest movement ever in history formed to call for the end of a war before the war had started. The "Ploughshares" had heard me speak in Kildare, Ireland, five days before they disarmed the plane. They've called on me as a defense witness during each of their trials, claiming that evidence I presented motivated them to take responsibility for stopping U.S. use of Shannon airport for refueling "pit stops."

Ireland is a neutral country. Under international law and in accord with its own constitution, it would seem unlikely that Ireland could participate in U.S. war plans. But, by January 2003, 36,000 U.S. troops had passed through Shannon airport, en route to the Gulf area. The plane which the Pitstop Ploughshares disarmed was a U.S. Navy C48 supply plane, designated to give logistical support to the U.S. Navy's 6th fleet in the Mediterranean.

The five defendants were represented by three of the most talented barristers in Ireland. The final summations of each defense counsel urged jurors not only to ask whether the defendants were right to take action, but also ask why it is that the rest of us haven't acted. Mr. Nix, praised by the prosecutor as "the last of the great orators," noted that the prosecutor had characterized the action of the defendants "political" as if that were a bad thing. "I'll tell you of someone who made a great political speech," said Mr. Nix, "the greatest political speech of all time and that's Jesus Christ." He went on to quote the Sermon on the Mount to the jury. I could hear the pencils stop scratching, see the jaws drop all around the courtroom. It was an awe-inspiring moment. The shock was yet to come.

Mr. Nix told us he had recently been in a park where he'd listened to children laugh and shout as they happily chased ducks and each other around on the green grass. He thought a sound of universal happiness must be the sound of children playing.
But now his tone darkened. "Now Lebanon is burning," he thundered. "Today, children swimming in a pool were bombed. A swimming pool is now filled with burning children. This is war."

From the The Guardian that morning (7/18/06, p.4):
"Whatever the Israelis' intended target, the bomb fell on a small water canal next to the Qasmia refugee camp [near Tyre, in southern Lebanon], home to about 500 Palestinians. Its victims were 11 children taking an afternoon swim in the canal. The first blast left a crater nearly four metres deep, burying many of the swimmers deep under the orange earth. Seven of the children were injured, three critically. Three others have not been found.
'The scene was littered with small plastic sandals, several caked in blood." Ismael, the father of one of the children, sat on the edge of the crater, his head in his hands weeping. "Children! Children!" he roared through his tears, "Children here! My son here." He stood and looked down into the crater: "Is Hizbullah here? Only children here," he said.'"

When he had finished his talk, Mr. Nix asked the jurors and all of us present: "What would rise you to action?

And that's a question we all need to think about. As I write, the jury in Ireland is still deliberating. Five brave men and women in Dublin tonight wait to learn their futures. Thousands more in Lebanon and Iraq and in so many other places look towards theirs with utter dread and uncertainty - many will not have futures. The peace movement is on trial in Dublin, where a media blackout has eclipsed nearly all reporting of the trial. But it's on trial everywhere, every time one of us makes our decision either to get more involved, or perhaps to sit back and watch a little. We are left with their bravery, with the suffering of so many, and with Mr. Nix's final accusation: "What will rise us to action?" We are all of us on trial tonight.

What's the verdict?

Related Link: http://www.vcnv.org
author by Court Reporterpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 07:32author 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

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Court Reporterpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 07:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors


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


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

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Court Reporterpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 07:38author 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
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
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

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Court Reporterpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 08:12author 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?


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?
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

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
On the 20th anniversary of Live Aid one of those dying children took the

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

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

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

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

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Damien - Pitstop Ploughsharespublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 08:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

....for giving that speech at La Fheile Bhride in January 2003, for journeying with us ever since, for standing with the Iraqi people and in defiance of the sanctions/wars in Iraq.

Just a few points to clarify:

The plane was a C-40A logistics supply plane
- http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/clipper/
- http://www.b737.org.uk/c-40a.htm

36,000 U.S. troops passed through in the first six weeks of 2003.

Other Dept. of Foreign Affairs statistics on troop movements used as evidence during the case established that approximately 90,000 U.S. soldiers passed through Shannon in the October 2002-March 2003 period.

It's great to have these reflections. I, for one, will admit that Brendan Nix's closing speech moved me to tears. I have met 8 others who had a similar reaction. Our counsel have really stuck with us through thick and thin - many others have provided major emotional, financial support, etc. Thank you to all who have provided solidarity in all it's shapes and forms over the past 3 1/2 years..

Here's hoping for a favourable outcome.................

Related Link: http://www.peaceontrial.com
author by Máire - Peaceful Means Campaignpublication date Tue Jul 25, 2006 13:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just received word by phone from a friend present at the court that the Ploughshare activists were found not guilty on all counts!
Buíochas Mór le Dia! Thanks be to God! Very emotional scenes at court, I am told!

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