Jailed, 79 year old Irish Peace Activist: ‘STOP DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE’
Imprisoned peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy has reiterated her assertion that Shannon Airport’s runway is being used improperly for the purposes of war, and has called on the Minister for Defence Alan Shatter to stop defending the indefensible military use of the airport. Speaking to John Lannon and Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch this Monday, she said that the State has a responsibility to ensure the proper use of the airport and to protect it against security threats.
“The fact that Niall Farrell and I could walk out onto the runway at Shannon demonstrates that it is not secure.” said Ms D’Arcy. “The military use of the airport presents grave risks to the people in the airport or living nearby, as well as being in contravention of international laws and against the wishes of the majority of Irish people”.
Mr Shatter has said that from 2004 to 2013 the Garda expenditure associated with anti-war protests at Shannon Airport amounted to over €17.3 million in security costs. “It is wrong to say that these costs are associated with anti-war protests” said Ms D’Arcy. “They are directly related to the US military use of the airport. And they demonstrate particularly poor value for money, given that our presence on the runway had to be brought to the attention of security by other peace activists.”
“This State has failed in its duty to protect people in many ways” continued Ms D’Arcy. “The recent European Court of Human Rights ruling in a case brought by Louise O’Keeffe demonstrated that it failed to prevent systematic child abuse. It fought her for over 15 years and refused to own up to responsibility for the abuse she suffered. In the same way it is refusing to own up for years of complicity in torture by allowing rendition planes to land at Shannon”.
Margaretta also spoke of her action at Shannon as a legitimate act of non-violent direct action which has been used, among others, by the civil rights movement in the United States of America and the women’s suffragette movement. “Non-violent direct action is an effective means of creating change in the world, unlike violence and war which motivate revenge and retaliation and escalation of conflict. My non-violent action demonstrated an unwillingness to participate in what is happening at Shannon. Others including the Catholic Workers and Mary Kelly have felt compelled to take similar action as a result of the shameful participation of the airport in illegal wars”.
Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell are due to appear in Ennis District Court again on Thursday 13th February in relation to their second non-violent direct action at Shannon in September 2013.This occurred at a time when there was a likelihood that the U.S. would invade Syria, once again using Shannon as a transit base.
Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon added “In the meantime, armed US soldiers are still transiting through Shannon Airport in chartered flights and on US military aircraft. This is occurring without any evident oversight of the dangerous munitions being transported. It would also seem that there are no procedures in place to check if suspected war criminals are included as passengers on these aircraft, or to ensure that international laws are not being broken”.
Shannonwatch have organised a further demonstration outside Limerick Prison where Margaretta D’Arcy is being held for Friday February 14th at 8pm. Demonstrations will also take place at The Spire in Dublin on 15th and 22nd February, calling on the State to Free Margaretta D’Arcy and get the U.S. military out of Shannon.
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