Ireland: Case Dismissed – Peace Activists Have No Charges to Answer
This is a crosspost from www.news-beacon-ireland.info
published on Shannonwatch 2 June 2014
republished here under the term of Fair Use
On Tuesday May 27th, two members of Shannonwatch appeared in Ennis District Court to answer a charge under the Public Order Act, Section 8. This related to an incident that took place on October 13th 2013.
On that date, Dr. Edward Horgan and Tim Hourigan were at Shannon Airport prior to the start of Shannonwatch’s monthly vigil, and had gone up to the airport for their regular routine of taking photographs of any suspicious aircraft and meeting others in the hotel for tea, before joining the vigil.
They had photographed two suspicious aircraft, and were heading back to the hotel, when they were met by two Gardai who accused them of having trespassed in a restricted area. The planespotters had in fact been on the public footpath next to Long Term Car Park 4, so they told the Gardai that they denied any accusation of trespass. The Gardai then invoked the Public Order Act and directed the peace activists to ‘leave the area’.
Tim and Edward denied that there was any public order issue, but also asked for clarity as to which area they were being asked to leave. After seven such questions, they were left in the Catch 22 situation of being told to ‘go for tea’ at the Park Inn Hotel which is opposite the Terminal building and within the airport, and at the same time to leave the entire airport. After querying this contradiction, and again denying any public order issue existed, both men were arrested and brought to Shannon Garda Station before being released without charge.
5 months later, summonses were hand delivered to the peace activists, accusing them of “having being found in said public place by a member of the Garda Siochana, namely Thomas A Downey Garda who suspected with reasonable cause, that [they] – without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, were loitering in a public place in circumstances, which gave rise to a reasonable apprehension for the safety of persons or the safety of property or for the maintenance of the public peace“. The charge went on to say that “having been directed by the said member of the Garda Siochana to leave immediately the vicinity of the place concerned in a peaceable and orderly manner” that Tim and Edward “did without lawful authority or reasonable excuse fail to comply with the direction given by the said member of the Garda Siochana“. They were charged under Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994.
There were several pre-trial appearances in court, during which the Prosecution informed the court that the CCTV in the car park hadn’t recorded anything, and that no statements were sought from any of the other witnesses on the scene (including two Gardai and one Airport Police Officer who were there before the arresting Garda).
Eventually the trial took place on May 27th before Judge Mary Larkin.
After less than two hours listening to Garda Downey and his colleague Garda Noel Pearse giving evidence, Judge Larkin dismissed the case. It was becoming increasingly clear at that stage that Tim and Edward were neither loitering nor endangering the safety of anybody or anything on 13th October, and that the Gardai themselves were quite unclear about what it was they were trying to direct them to do when they “found” them.
Read more here