Shannon runway blockade and arrest of peace activists on World Peace Day

Sunday, 1st September 2013:

On World Peace Day, September 1st, two members of the Galway Alliance Against War, Margaretta D’Arcy (79) and Niall Farrell (60) blocked the runway at Shannon airport to express opposition to the continued use of the airfield by the US military as part of its wars in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. On behalf of the 2 peace activists, the Galway Alliance Against War released the following statement:

“Over the past twelve years consecutive Irish governments have colluded in Washington’s campaign of wars from Afghanistan to Yemen, in which up to 2 million people have perished. By allowing the US military to use Irish airspace and Shannon airport to wage these wars we have become a willing accessory to mass murder. We have blood on our hands.

“Irish democracy has been subverted in the interests of this US war machine: the Greens and Labour entered government with a mandate to oppose Ireland’s role in these wars and develop a policy of neutrality, but reneged on their promises. Therefore, we feel we have no alternative but to block the runway at Shannon to highlight Irish involvement in this carnage. We have also come on the runway to conduct, what President Higgins proposed, a “conversation” in public places about Irish society. There is no more relevant place in Ireland than Shannon airport’s runway to discuss the need for the government to return to Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality and cease its collusion in these criminal wars.

“Once more the drums of war are beating, this time the Western powers, in particular the USA, have Syria in their sights. We call on the Irish government to follow the lead taken by neutral Austria and ban all military flights through national airspace and airports for any military operation related to Syria. We also call on the government to join with other governments throughout the world and oppose any use of force against Syria.  

 “The wars waged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have resulted in on-going death and destruction. These wars have not brought stability but the very opposite. It is time to give peace a chance!”

Gardaí at Shannon subsequently reported  that a number of peace activists:Margaretta Darcy, Niall Farrell, and Tommy Donnellan had been arrested at Shannon airport and were being held in
custody at Shannon Garda Station.  It would appear that Margaretta Darcy and Niall Farrell were arrested on the main runway at Shannon airport as part of their ongoing campaign to
prevent US military use of Shannon airport.

Tommy Donnellan had been filming the protest from outside the airport fence. As the activists on the runway were being arrested Tommy continued to film the action when a member of the garda forces tried to grab his camera to break the equipment. The garda was reprted to be extremely heavy handed in the course of his duty. Tommy decided to leave the area and travelled quite a distance into a fairly remote area of the countryside.

After some miles and some time Tommy was approached by a garda who requested and then reported his identity details. Tommy was picked up by a detective that sped to the scene and he was taken to the garda station on suspicion of criminal damage. It would appear that gardai had been drafted in from other areas for what may have been a country-wide search for Tommy the Runaway. The arrest of a witness for recording and reporting a protest seems on the face of it to be an unjustified abuse of civil liberties.

Niall Farrell and Margaretta D'Arcy are being held overnight in custody and will be appearing in Limerick Court at 10.30am Monday 2nd September- exact charges unknown as time of reporting
This is just one of very many incidents where peace activists have been arrested and subsequently prosecuted at Shannon airport while they were attempting to expose very serious crimes of torture, extraordinary rendition and crimes against humanity that have been facilitated at Shannon airport since 2001.

Tommy Donnelan was released without charge after several hours, but his equipment and his mobile phone have been confiscated and will be examined by gardai, not to be released before 4th September.

info: Dette Mc Loughlin