Independent Media Centre Ireland

Mary Kelly conviction overturned after Six years struggle

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Friday February 25, 2011 14:10author by Justin morahan

Mary's disabling of a plane at Shannon preceded a similar action by the Pitstop Ploughshares

The Court of Criminal Appeal overturned Mary Kelly's conviction this morning

The war in Iraq and Ireland's participation in it prompted may protests from outraged Irish citizens. Mary Kelly entered Shannon airport on a cold night in January 2003, not to protest, but to disable a war plane that was bound for the war in Iraq.

At her trial she pleaded lawful excuse, namely she hoped to save lives in Iraq.

The first jury was hung. A second jury found her guilty after the presiding judge had stopped her defence of lawful excuse being considered by its members. Judge Carrol Moran imposed a sentence of two years imprisonment - suspended.

It took four years of tortuous court appearances and the mountain of work associated with such appearances before Mary succeeded in having her appeal against the judgement heard by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The appeal was eventually heard in July 2008. And the three judges pronounced their judgement this morning.

The judgement is welcome but the delay gives rise to many questions about the fairness of the Irish judicial system.

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author by Seán Ryanpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:56author address author phone

It's not such a black day after all.

Mary's verdict was finally handed down today.


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author by Madam Kpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 15:24author address author phone

Great News , well done .

author by Damien Moranpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 17:47author address author phone

It has taken 5 years longer for Mary to get official justice compared to the Shannon 5/CW 5 group. TV3 did a short piece on their 5:30pm news after the L. Minihan case report. Anyhow, I haven't been involved in providing any support for Mary for many years so just wanted to congratulate her on this momentuous victory and to thank those who stuck by her throughout the whole saga.

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author by TD - Free Palestine Campaignpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 19:13author address author phone

Following the WiliLeaks revelations that US ambassador Thomas C. Foley congratulated then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern for rejecting the Irish Human Rights Commission's damning report into extraordinary rendition captives being transited through Shannon Airport and for having “tamped down” public reaction to the report even though "He (Ahern) seemed quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere," the symbolism, synchronicity, serendipity, whatever, of your vindication, Mary, on the very day Fianna is getting "tamped down" by the electorate adds further relish and satisfaction to this red letter day.?

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author by Iyad Burnat - Bil'in Popular Committeepublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 21:08author address author phone

Grassroots committees in Palestine, we appreciate your wonderful job you are doing to Palestine and hard work. and we assure you that the injustice would soon end. We are with you and will not forget all the Liberal who stood with us

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author by Mary Kellypublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 21:09author address author phone

I am grateful (slightly!) for the many obstacles and everything good and bad that happened in the course of these trials as it has lead to such a thorough and fulsome result, and the second time? ( in anti-war activity context) that the Irish courts have had the opportunity to uphold the defence of lawful excuse.

Great work and huge thanks to all the people who have contributed over the years to this great verdict today.

author by Michaelpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 22:30author address author phone

In the light of the Irish governments self-imposed contemptible inertia in enforcing legal international obligations preventing torture and crimes against humanity, today's exoneration, coupled with the 1996 jury acceptance of the Pitstops defence paves the way and, indeed, facilitates further similar, strong actions by activists with conscience.?

author by ACpublication date Fri Feb 25, 2011 23:00author address author phone

Thanks Mary for your courage and integrity. Your victory is immense.

The action you took was one of a very small number of effective protests over the course of this war. And now you have been vindicated.

Justice delayed is justice denied, but one of your achievements is exposing the hollowness at the heart of this so-called democracy, where the puny shadow men have the power to keep this hanging over you for so many years. But you have not let the grass grow under your feet, you have stayed out there fighting for what's right. Again, thanks.

author by Marthapublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 00:09author address author phone

AC: Today's election results will show that the electorate, for the time being, has given the puny shadow men; Fianna Fail and Greens their P.45 but the results will also show the masochistic sheeple have replaced the fuckers with even punier men and women of straw in the form of Fine Gael, so, the likes of Mary Kelly and the Ploughshares are needed now more than ever.?

author by JSpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 00:25author address author phone


I was pleased to see your conviction was overturned. You were treated badly by the judge in Ennis and now you have been treated badly by the High Court. They have buried your success under the elections and the press seem to be ignoring you again.

I wish you well Mary. You are a giant compared to the pigmies of the Irish establishment.

author by Niallpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 04:26author address author phone

Congratulations Mary, we need more people with your courage and diligence. What you (& the Ploughshares) did had such a galvanizing effect on grassroots activism in Ireland. Now it's been legally vindicated at last.

author by Ciaron O'Reilly - Giuseppe Conlon House/ London Catholic Workerpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 05:21author address London, Englandauthor phone

Congratulations Mary.

Solidarity with you and all those who accompanied you through this long journey through Limerick Prison and the courts.

For many the war lost its "sex appeal" a long time ago. For those widowed and orphaned in Iraq - and those who were sent through Shannon to kill and be killed - the ongoing war on Iraq will never be just a memory. Likewise, those who resisted and are left with the trauma of the judicial and jail experience. We need to accompany all these folks as best we can.

Nonviolent resistance and proactive solidarity are the only way out of this mess and we need to continue these practises long after the day of arrests, through the long years of being dragged through their judicial an punitive systems. I know that's hard for folks who have to deal with personalities like mine, but no one ever said that anti-war resisters were saints and the gig to stop this war would be easy.

The engagement of many and the now diseengagement of most is not unprecedented. In 1972, when Nixon started to meet the moderate demands of the mss anti-Vietnam War movmement by "bringing the boys home" as he "Vietnamised" the war and escalated the U.S.aerial bombarment campaign that mass movement collapsed. Reisters from the anti-Vietnam War are still on the run form the U.S. state others have had to live their lives blacklisted - for some wonderful folks like Abbie Hoffman it was all too much and they took their lives. There was one resister arrested at Shannon, jailed in Limerick who did likewise.

Today it is Julian Assange and Bradley Manning being dragged through the courts and tortured respectivey for their oppostion to these long wars. Manning was only 14 when Eoin Dubsky, Mary and the Pit Stops acted at Shannon and the U.S. war machine refeueled and erefreshed at Shannon to begin the invasion of Iraq. The last place Manning was not at war, or being tortured in prison, was Shannon Airport, Ireand!

Thanks to Mary, the Pit Stops, Dubsky, Horrigan, Cregan, Horgan, Lane and hundreds of others the name Shannon is not resigned to history as solely a place of Irish shame - Shannon is also a name that also conjures Irish resistance to imperial war.

Keep on keeping on Mary
Stay staunch
Keep it real
Ciaron O'Reilly, Pit Stop Ploughshares

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author by ACpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:14author address author phone

I'm with ya on the election comment.

The other puny shadow men I was thinking of are the legion of unseen backroom fixers who really run this country, and not just their political puppets in FF FG and Labour.

I mean the corporate bagmen, the senior financiers, the crony judges who deliver politically acceptable verdicts like in Mary's case (and like Judge Mary Devins breaking the law to punish Shell resisters in Mayo), the shady diplomatic staff, the senior public servants disloyal to the public, the security specialists, the senior yellow union men, and the whole caste of shits-in-suits-with-all-the-right-contacts-for-getting-things-done-in-this-country.

The upheaval, where where these people get burned, is a long way from sight yet, but make no mistake - it is out there, somewhere in the savage wastes, no longer wandering aimlessly but now sniffing blindly for its target. The monster of the seas that is only seen once in three generations is still a mile or two from the surface - but it has left the seabed.

Just be ready.

author by cropbeyepublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 13:44author address author phone


We love you Mary

John R

author by Nickpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 19:34author address author phone

A good day at last Mary, thanks to you for your strength, your belief and your endless courage.

author by Deirdre Clancy - Pitstop Ploughsharespublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 20:20author address author phone

Well done again on your tenacity in seeing this through to the end, Mary, when I know too well how emotionally draining it can all be at times, and how depersonalised you can feel going through the courts, like a pawn on a chessboard, your humanity routinely discounted both during and after the fact. Take care of yourself now, as it will take time to process all of it, both the loyalty and the betrayals, the joy and the cruelty. Some of it will still go on after it is all over -- the employment discrimination, the disappearing friends, etc. -- so find yourself a protective haven and try to be kind to yourself.

It was great to be there to celebrate another vindication for NVDA against injustice with you over coffee, so thanks for the invitation and for providing some much-welcome good news.

author by Martinpublication date Sat Feb 26, 2011 21:18author address author phone

Brilliant news Mary, well done, you battled the system and their lies and you argued your own case before the Court of Criminal Appeal.

That is Power. And it is literally 'speaking truth to power' as the Quaker? saying goes.

Love and Light as always and 'keep smilin' thru..'


author by Vacy Vlazna - Justice for Palestine Matterspublication date Fri Mar 04, 2011 22:01author address author phone

Fantastic Mary, a triumph for non-violence, intelligent due process of the law and for your courage and principles.

author by Tom H. Hastings - Whitefeather Peace House, Portland OR USApublication date Fri Mar 04, 2011 22:10author email pcwtom at gmail dot comauthor address 3278250author phone 503

As all or virtually all Plowshares resisters are impecunious (or at least were for the duration of their action and its legal sequelae), I expect you were not going to meet their goofy demands anyhow, but this is such a ringing validation of your excellent action. Thank you from the heart.

author by Edward Horgan - Shannonwatchpublication date Fri Mar 04, 2011 22:21author address author phone

Many congratulations to Mary on the Court of Criminal Appeal overturning her conviction. I have just read the full transcript of the verdict and it is very impressive even if it is many years late.

Just for the record, Shannonwatch did send RTE an advance notice that the decision was to be announced on Thursday 24 March. We also sent them a Shannonwatch prese release on the outcome of the Court of Appeal decision at 11 am on 24 March. In addition I contacted RTE Newsroom by email and by phone call at 7pm on the evening of 24 March and reminded them of the case and its results, and emphasised the importance of the case. I reminded them that they saw fit to report the outcome of the Mary Harney paint throwing case which was decided on the same day, and suggested that they include a report on the Mary Kelly acquittal in the 9pm news. As I expected there was only RTE silence on the matter.
On all matters associated with US military use of Shannon Airport, RTE has behaved as a Government Broadcasting Service instead of a public broadcasting service. Perhaps it is time RTE was sold off and privatised - because it is not providing a proper balanced broadcasting service.

But we must not let such matters take from Mary Kelly's landmark legal success on this matter. When the court ruling is published online, a copy will be available on

Mary Kelly & supporters celebrating at Court of Criminal Appeal
Mary Kelly & supporters celebrating at Court of Criminal Appeal

author by Edwardpublication date Fri Mar 04, 2011 22:26author address author phone

The date on the above report should read Friday 25 February 2011 and not Thursday 24 March

author by Rowan Steele - Australiapublication date Fri Mar 04, 2011 23:12author address author phone

Hello Mary,

After watching many videos and reading about your actions and those of others at Shannon Airport, many years after the event, it is inspiring to hear that you kept fighting this until the end and won. Congratulations and peace and comfort be with you now that its over.

author by Niallpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 00:11author email nialltaylor2 at gmail dot comauthor address author phone

Great news.

Wish we had people like you in Scotland!

author by Ciaronpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 05:38author address author phone

In terms of RTE and trhe rest od the Irish manisntream media.
You only get disappointed in life when you have false expectations.
When you get disapointed ya should really consider readjusting ya epectations!
I have no expectations of the Irish mainstream media and their housebroken foot soldiers

I'm sure this appeal victory will be the subject of more hysterical secret cables fromt he U.S. embassy to D.C. like the ones exposed by WikiLeaks that followed the 06 acquittal of the Pit Stop Ploughshares, but that one (reported in Time Magazine!) and this one did not rate as a subject for investigatory journalism in the Irish media

"Disillusionment" in the best sense of the word, "shedding of illusions" can be a liberating experience.

Harry Browne's in his fine book about the Pit Stop Ploughshares "Hammered by the Irish" looks at such censorhip in relation t all things Shannon, Ireland's ongoing complicity in U.S. troop movements for their invasions and wars over the last decade, the Pit Stop Ploughshares etc.

The Irish mainstream media lied about us before our trial
- that we assaulted a Gardia in th ehangar...the Gardai in 3 trials under oath testified that I conforted him while he had a stress attack in the hangar
- that the Puit Stop Ploughshares had cost the Irish taxpayer $U.S. 2 1/2 million (front page story/lie in the Irish Times just before trial) no point was this amount ever converted to euros in legal documents, the testimony in 3 trials never pointed to the Irish picking upthe bill and of course now confirmed by WikiLeaks exposure we know the embassy were asking theirmasters back in D.C. wheteher they should privately sue us ( a course they are now taking wth the Aitearoa/ New Zealand Plougshares acquitted in Wellington 2010).their have now been 9 plowhshares. nonviolent disarmament acquittals in various countries and jurisdiction!

For many years RTE were dominated by Stalinists
For example, they literally censored the now present leader of the 26 county parliamentary oppostion Gerry Adams for ages...wouldn't let his voice be broadcasted
Even if the Stalinists have "passed on" in terms of mortality or upward mobility
the culture of Stalinism...airbrushing, censorship etc is vibrant they have left a culture there

"Blanking", pretending someone don't exist, is a stong component of Irish culture
Corruption has a popular base in Irish culture due to 800 years of colonisation.
A lot of people think the succesfully corrupt...........(those who go offshore wit their loot not to jail) are still "getting one over on the Brits by ripping off the public purse....but the Brits left 90 years ago...but likewise the cuture carries on...800 years is a long time
As I tell my aboriginal Australian frends
"You've only been colonised for 200, try 800 mate!" least aboriginal Asutralians run decolonisation workshops at home...haven't hear of that in my 7 years of living in the first and last Beritish colony.

Once again congratulations and thanks Mary for your stedfastness

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author by genny - wrexham peace & justice forumpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 08:19author address author phone

words seem inadequate and i can't find the right ones...
but reading this has made me cry and has given me strength and hope and inspiration.
thank you mary.
big hug

author by Arnpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 09:17author address author phone

Congratulations, the wheels of justice grinded very slowly but justice was done in the end: the innocent protectors of peace were cleared although the guilty, waging war, still have not been asked to explain themselves.

author by karen fallon - humanitypublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:01author address author phone


It has been so very long but at last you have won through their lies. Congratulations to you!
Your tenacity to pursue truth and justice is and has been amazing. I hope that you can move on now with life and wish you all the very best.
deepest respect.


author by sylvia - UK - no organizationpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 13:22author email sylvia_m at hotmail dot co dot ukauthor address UKauthor phone

If there was any justice in Eire, it would be Mary Kelly, President.
Sadly we realize that Eire is little better than England.

author by Edward Horgan - Shannonwatchpublication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 16:05author address author phone

At noon today there were virtually no civilian passenger planes at Shannon airport. The main activity was an OMNI Air International DC10 with about 200 US soldiers complete with their arms and ammunition on their way to or from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Over two million US troops have passed through Shannon airport since Mary Kelly damaged the US Navy aircraft in Jan 2003. Over two million people, mainly civilians have been killed in these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan waged by the United States with the active assistance of its European allies including Ireland. In Ireland's we only do it for the money. There are no principles involved

OMNI Air DC10 carrying US troops through Shannon airport today 5 Mar 2011
OMNI Air DC10 carrying US troops through Shannon airport today 5 Mar 2011

author by Bill Bichsel - Tacoma Catholic Worker /publication date Sat Mar 05, 2011 20:22author email bix.tacoma at gmail dot comauthor address 1417 so.G st. Tacoma,Wa. 98405 usaauthor phone 253 627 4347 usa

Thank you Mary,for the courage of your convictions

author by Kay McPaddenpublication date Mon Mar 07, 2011 07:06author address author phone

Thank you Mary Kelly. God bless you and God bless Ireland's Republic so that it may grow into a more compassionate community.
Kay McPadden

author by Eric Snowballpublication date Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:37author address author phone

Our best wishes on you success. A long time coming. We applaud you tenacity.

author by Sarah Lasenby - TPpublication date Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:35author email sarahllasenby at googlemail dot comauthor address author phone

I think we last met in the Quaker Meeting House in Cork ! Time passes.
What a terrible long time you have had to wait for this great result. The war mongers must go. They must change their mind set from Neanderthal to modern creative and peace making.
Love Sarah

author by Mary Kellypublication date Mon May 23, 2011 13:19author address author phone

The People of Ireland ( DPP) v Mary Kelly

Read judgment on website

"With all respect to the learned trial judge, and indeed to the prosecution, the transcript suggests that the applicant was at all times aware that the statutory provision had been amended: but the first quotation above in particular seems to suggest that this came as new information to the learned trial judge".

(For those who had to sit through two trials and suffer the trial judge's twisting and distortion of the law, this will help erase that woeful memory of abuse of power and his farceful 'interpretation' of justice.)

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