Jailed for Refusing to Be Silent: Peace Activist Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy is not a war criminal. Nor is she a human rights abuser, or the commander of an invading army. But she has spent many years drawing attention to the fact that these type of people pass through Shannon Airport regularly. The legally and morally correct response from the Irish police would be to investigate this complicity in wrongdoing at Shannon. Instead they imprisoned 79 year old Margaretta because she wouldn't promise to stay away from the airport.

A peace activist who draws too much attention to US and NATO injustices is locked up in supposedly neutral Ireland, while the country's morally corrupt government continues to bend over backwards to support their imperialist plundering. Ireland is obligated under customary international laws on neutrality to not allow US troops involved in wars to transit through Irish territory, and to arrest any such soldiers found on Irish territory. But the government not only refuses to do this - it even welcomes them.

Guantanamo Granny Tries to Arrest Judge

On Wednesday 11th December, In Ennis District court. Margaretta D'Arcy of Galway Alliance Against War attempted to make a citizen arrest on Patrick Durcan the presiding judge.  Margaretta claimed he was complicit in supporting criminal acts at Shannon Airport because in passing sentence on her and Niall Farrell who went onto the runway to protest against the US military use of the airport, he ignored the fact that Shannon Airport has violated the integrity of the Irish Constitution Articles 28 and 29 as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights recognised by the European Union and European Court of Human Rights. According to Margaretta, it puts the security of the U.S. war machines above the security of its civilian passengers.

"His suspended sentence reveals where his concerns are so long as I observe crimes that are going on in Shannon from the outside I don't go to jail but if I try and stop war crimes inside the airport I will be locked up for three months" said Ms D'Arcy.

Two Galway Peace Activists Sentenced To 3 Months Suspended

Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) Press Release

Two members of the Galway Alliance Against War, Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell, were sentenced to 3 months in jail suspended for two years, for carrying out a peaceful protest on the runway at Shannon airport on October 7th 2012 to mark the 11th anniversary of the "war on terror" and as part of an international protest against killer drones. Shannon airport has become an important US military hub since the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

Margaretta D'Arcy was in court and attempted to carry out a citizen's arrest of Judge Patrick Durcan for "crimes against humanity". The judge returned to his chambers as Ms D'Arcy (79) was removed from the bench. Her co-accused refused to attend the court sitting.

Report of Trial of Niall Farrell and Margaretta D'Arcy for October 2012 Peace Action at Shannon Airport

Niall Farrell and MArgaretta D'Arcy with Clare Daly TD outside Ennis Court after their trial.

Monday December 2nd  Ennis Court  11.00 Am

Notes from the trial of Niall Farrell and Margaretta D'Arcy for allegations of an offence or offences committed on 7th October 2012 at Shannon Airport

The defendants were charged with interfering with the proper use of main runway at Shannon airport. However, there was a problem with the summons of charge sheet (as well as serious problems with the improper use of Shannon airport). The prosecutor Inspector Kennedy got his numbers wrong. Perhaps he thought he was counting penalty points.

Improper Use of Shannon Airport Continues

As Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell of Galway Alliance Against War were trying to bring attention in Ennis District Court to the improper use of Shannon Airport by US military and CIA, the unwelcome visitors continued to ferry passengers - and perhaps cargo - through the airport. A report of Margaretta and Niall's day in court will be published in the next couple of days but in the meantime we want to show you some examples of what passes through Shannon in a typical few days.

Between Friday last and today (Monday) we photographed the following US military-related aircraft at Shannon ...

Ireland, NATO and Crimes against Humanity

Paper presented by Edward Horgan, International Secretary, Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance and Shannonwatch member at the Stop the War International Anti-War Conference, 30 November 2013 in London.

Irish Governments have continuously declared since 1939, that Ireland is a neutral state, subject to the rules and obligations applicable to neutral states under international law. In recent years the Government has attempted to re-define neutrality in order to justify its entanglement in military alliances such as NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) and European Union (EU) battlegroups under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). However the rules are clearly defined in The Hague Convention[1], Article 2 of which states that: "Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power." Since October 2001 successive Irish Governments allowed over two and half million armed U.S./NATO troops and large quantities of war materials through Shannon airport on their way to and from the Afghan and Iraq wars, in clear contravention of the customary international laws on neutrality.

As Two Galway Peace Activists Face Trial Next Monday Their Group Queries The “Political Baggage” Of Judge

Press Release from Galway Alliance Against War,  26 November 2013

Two members of the Galway Alliance Against War, Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell, will come before Judge Patrick Durcan at Ennis District Court next Monday, 2nd December, at 11am charged with having "interfered with the proper use" of Shannon airport by going on the runway on two occasions, 7th October 2012 and 1st September 2013.

More Ministerial Confusion over Sovereign Immunity

Our Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore is finding it difficult to explain what sovereign immunity means in the context of the US military use of Shannon. Despite being asked a series of direct questions on the issue by Clare Daly TD, he repeated the mantra that it "is recognised as applying in respect of foreign state or military aircraft". But he didnt say what that means. (See Dáil debate on Military Aircraft Landings here)

Gilmore also seems to have redefined the concept of neutrality. In answering the questions in the Dáil he said that Ireland's policy of neutrality was characterised by "non-participation in military alliances". In other words supporting military alliances is ok with his brand of neutrality.

Minister's Statement on Sovereign Immunity for Military Aircraft Raises Serious Questions

The question of whether or not the Gardai can inspect US military aircraft at Shannon is something that the various personnel, agencies and services in the Department of Justice and Equality seem to have very different understandings of. The Minister says they can't. The Gardai themselves seem to think they can if there is good reason to. And at least one judge believes they can.

So who's right?

Only last week, on November 5th, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, said that "the Garda Síochána has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft which, in accordance with international law, enjoy sovereign immunity." Sovereign immunity prevents a government or its subdivisions, departments, and agencies from being sued without its consent. In other words they are above the law.

Minister Makes More Excuses for the Failure to Search US Aircraft at Shannon

The Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter has claimed that the Garda Síochána has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft at Shannon or other airports because they enjoy sovereign immunity. In effect this means that the government allows the US military to take whatever or whoever they want through Ireland, regardless of the human rights, security and other consequences.

The statement was made in response to Clare Daly TD who asked the Minister whether or not the Government or the Garda Commissioner has instructed Gardaí at Shannon not to search US military aircraft, or chartered aircraft transporting US troops, or aircraft associated with the CIA.

According to Minister Shatter the Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions, and these apply to aircraft as much as to any other type of private property.  

He was talking here about civilian as opposed to military aircraft.