Report on Court Hearing - Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan (July 20th, 2016)

Ennis District Court, Wednesday, 20th July 2016

Judge Patrick Durcan presiding.

Inspector Tom Kennedy prosecuting.

Cases

Garda O'Brien v Colm Roddy
Garda Moriarty v Dave Donnellan

Background

The charges arise from an incident at Shannon Airport on May 25th where the defendants made a peaceful protest at Shannon Airport and attempted to inspect a US military aircraft that was parked in the middle of the airfield.

The day after the action after spending a day in custody, the men were brought before recently appointed judge James Faughnan, in Gort District Court.

Judge Faughnan granted a request from Garda Superintendent Brendan McDonagh that the defendants bail would include a ban from entering the county of Clare other than for court related matters. He ignored the objections of Mr Roddy that the restrictions were unfair.


Dave Donnellan's case was called first.

Inspector Kennedy told the court that the prosecution had only sent a file to the DPP on Monday (July 18th which is a full 54 days after the arrest of the defendants). Mr. Kennedy told the judge that he  was awaiting instructions re any possible further charges.

He asked for the matter to be adjourned to September 14th.

Mr. Donnellan informed the court that he was representing himself with the help of a "McKenzie friend" (a non lawyer who can assist but not directly address the court). The judge demanded that his McKenzie friend put his name and his address on a piece of paper and to give it to Inspector Kennedy. 

The Judge asked Mr. Donnellan if he was agreeable to the the adjournment to September 14th.

Mr. Donnellan said that he was, but that he wished to make some applications.

He asked for disclosure (of the state's evidence against him), and specified that he wished this to include information on 2 military aircraft which were present at Shannon on the date in question - a USAF C21 and a Special Forces C32B. Mr. Donnellan offered a photograph of the aircraft as an aid to the state in their enquiry.  He said he wanted the state to request the contact details of the pilots of the aircraft.

Judge Durcan said that he would grant a general disclosure order, and that he was of the opinion that the accused should have the maximum legal disclosure needed, He told Mr. Donnellan to write to Inspector Kennedy, listing the information he sought, and that if there were any disagreements they could be addressed at the next hearing.

If Inspector Kennedy were to agree to that request in full it would be the very first investigation that the Gardaí have ever made, regarding the American war machine in Shannon, aside from accepting assurances and despite a wheelbarrow (literally) of complaints given to the Gardaí over the years.

Mr. Donnellan then made a 2nd application asking to vary the bail conditions, which he described as extreme, and which interfered with his ability to work in the education sector, including workshops in Co. Clare

The Judge said that he would not deal with this, as it was an 'ex parte' application, and told Mr. Donnellan to serve a notice to Inspector Kennedy, and that the issue would be "returnable to this court next week".

When Mr Roddy's case was called, he approached the bench in order to hear better. His McKenzie went with him.

He informed the judge that he wished to make a number of applications.

He asked for disclosure of statements and evidence.

He told the judge that he had already written to Supt McDonagh, who acted as prosecutor in the first court date, asking for disclosure, and his letter was returned with a note saying to make the request in court.

Mr. Roddy said that he wanted the request to include information about 2 aircraft that were at Shannon on the date of the arrest. Mr. Roddy told the court that the larger of the two aircraft was a secretive special operations aircraft used by special forces and the CIA for nefarious clandestine missions, which was at the airport on the date in question, which took off while Mr. Roddy and Mr. Donnellan were in the vicinity.

The Judge advised him to make all requests for disclosure to Inspector Kennedy.

Mr. Roddy made an application to have his bail conditions changed, as the ban from the entire county of Clare was not legal, was contrary to his rights under the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, and disproportionate to a charge that is before a district court.

The Judge didn't address the legality or disproportionality of the ban, instead he asked why Mr. Roddy hadn't addressed this earlier, as the ban was in place almost 2 months at this stage.

Mr. Roddy's McKenzie friend was standing next to Mr. Roddy making notes and conferring.

The Judge then demanded to know who this person was. The McKenzie answered.  "I'm acting as his McKenzie, Judge". The Judge asked again "who are you" and the McKenzie offered to hand his details over, just as Mr. Donnellan's McKenzie had done.

The Judge then banged his fist on the bench, and demanded to know the name and address of the man acting as Mr. Roddy's McKenzie.  The McKenzie, unfazed by the ill-tempered outburst, gave his name and address, and supplied them in writing to the clerk. 

Mr. Roddy informed the judge that he had objected to the ban from Co. Clare in the first court hearing, as he had business in County Clare and only signed under protest but the presiding Judge simply granted the request from the prosecution and warned Mr. Roddy that if he returned to Clare he would find himself in custody. Mr. Roddy told the court, that it was his understanding that under the Bail Act, he has the right to apply for a variation on bail conditions and each and any court date and that he wished to do so.

Mr. Roddy then referred to the practice of Judge Durcan's predecessor, Judge Joseph Mangan, who frequently banned peace activists from Clare, until a case with Owen Rice 13 years ago, where Owen Rice appealed the ban to a higher court, and the exclusion was reduced to a small area around the airport, rather than the full 3500 square kilometres of Co. Clare.

The Judge requested that Mr. Roddy should write to Inspector Kennedy and give him notice of the Application. He said that the Application could be heard as soon as next week.

Mr. Roddy asked why it could not be heard there and then, considering that "Mr." Kennedy was in the courtroom at the time, and had said earlier that the State would vehemently oppose an application to vary the bail conditions.

Rather than answer a clearly worded, direct, and relevant question, the Judge instead feigned outrage that Mr. Roddy had referred to "Mr. Kennedy" rather than "Inspector Kennedy".  

The cases are adjourned until September 14th. Mr. Roddy's hat remains in custody. The US military and CIA remain free to use Shannon Airport. 

  

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