In a stunning victory for Peace Activists in Ireland the defence of ‘Lawful Excuse’ is accepted in a case where the defendants entered Shannon Airport and confronted Garda and Irish Army personnel guarding US military aircraft.
Shannon is a link in a supply conduit of the US Military to the wars in the Middle East which have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
The statement from PANA says:
“At Dublin Circuit Court today a jury of twelve Irish citizens acquitted peace activists Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan of the charge of alleged criminal damage at Shannon airport over four and a half years ago. The trial by Jury was presided over by Judge Karen O’Connor found both defendants not guilty. They entered Shannon airport on the morning of 25th May 2016 to search and investigate US military aircraft that were being refuelled on their way to and from US wars of aggression. There were two US Air Force aircraft at Shannon at the time of the incident. One was a US air force Learjet C-21A aircraft registration number 84-0072 being guarded by an Irish army patrol, and the other was a US air force Boeing C-32B aircraft registration number 02-4452 used by the United States special forces, and being guarded by a Garda patrol car.
Speaking after the trial Colm Roddy said “the result of this trial gives us no cause for celebration. Our peaceful non-violent actions in May 2016 were undertaken to highlight Irish complicity and participation in US wars in the Middle East that have caused the deaths of millions of people in the Middle East, including the deaths of up to one million children since the First Gulf War in 1991.”
Dave Donnellan said: “Our actions were faith based. As Irish citizens we felt compelled as a matter of conscience to highlight Irish Government complicity in war crimes and it is a matter of deep regret to us that this complicity is still ongoing almost daily since 2001.”
The successful defence case was based on the argument that they had LAWFUL EXCUSE, or just cause, for their actions. In previous trials also relating to similar peace actions taken by five Catholic Workers, Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, and Ciaran O’Reilly in 2003 the jury also acquitted the five defendants, and the Court of Criminal appeal overturned the conviction of Mary Kelly for damaging a UN Navy aircraft also in 2003.
All these trials took an unduly long time to reach a conclusion at great inconvenience to all the defendants – justice delayed is justice denied – but it is the innocent people of the Middle East who are suffering the most due to these wars and Irish complicity in these wars. May those innocents who have been slaughtered rest in peace and may some justice and accountability be applied to those responsible for, and complicity in, these war crimes.”
There have been similar actions in other countries notably the ‘Ploughshares’ trial in the UK where women protesters damaged military aircraft destined for the Middle East.
It seems in countries where fair trials exist there is a tendency of common sense by juries to overwhelm the arrogance of the political classes on issues of conscience.
There is a message here that when quiet peaceful protest fails and the placards are ignored then it’s time to take action a stage further.
Meanwhile in the Isle of Man and Wales governments continue to ignore concerns about military training for the aircrew of despotic regimes. Perhaps there is a lesson in this latest peace news for the wider protest movement!
Footnote: The Celtic League opposes military activity by military blocs such as NATO and others in and around the Celtic countries. The Celtic League AGM adopted a policy of Military Monitoring over forty years ago. The League has also expressed unease at the signing of an Anglo-Irish military training agreement. In relation to the training of military aircrew from States such as Saudi Arabia the League has condemned the use of bases in Wales and Mann. The Celtic League also annually voices its concern about the use (mainly of facilities in Scotland) for the Joint Warrior (JW) series of NATO exercises pointing out that in the home countries of many of the states that utilise these facilities such exercises do not take place.
Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (submitted 25 October 2020)