Thursday, 23 January 2014


Magaretta D'Arcy jailed
national | anti-war | feature Thursday January 23, 2014 00:14 by Justin Morahan  FROM INDYMEDIA IRELAND

"Free Shannon from the US Military"

Image Caption

Magaretta D'Arcy, a 79 year old peace activist who is also undergoing cancer treatment was arrested at home in Galway.

Related Links: Guantanamo Granny tries to arrest Judge | Court case against two GAAW members, Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell. |
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Margaretta D'Arcy was taken from her home at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and jailed in Limerick prison. With John Lannon, Margaretta sat on the runway at Shannon while fellow activists called the Gardaí to remove them both for safety reasons. Margaretta had been convicted in court before Christmas, was sentenced to three months in prison and refused to sign a bond that would effectively have set her free.

In prison, she remains defiant, asking that protestors demand not for her own release but the release of Shannon airport from the US military.

Already three protests are planned for today Friday 17th Jan, one for Limerick, one for Galway and one for Dublin. The Dublin protest is outside the Department of Justice at 1 o'clock

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.

The imbalance in the administration of justice is staggering. Margaretta and Niall Farrell, both members of Galway Alliance Against War, went onto the runway at Shannon on 7th October 2012 as part of an international week of protest against US killer drones. These drones may well be going through Shannon on some of the many US Hercules C-130's that land there, despite the claims of our Minister for Foreign Affairs that these aircraft are unarmed, carrying no arms and are not part of military exercises or operations. These claims are meaningless, as there is photographic evidence of at least one US Hercules landing at Shannon in 2013 armed with 30mm cannon. And on that basis Margaretta and Niall's action was fully justified.

Thousands of innocent people have been executed without trial by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen (with the approval of President Barack Obama), and thousands more have been injured and badly mutilated. Yet the Irish government pretends Shannon is not involved, just like it pretends the airport was not involved in renditions.

Margaretta and others have tried in vain to have these serious violations of international law investigated. Going onto the runway was a last resort in her efforts to have what she called a long overdue "conversation with the State". In Ennis District Court she explained why it was necessary to do what she did, but the court handed down a three month suspended sentence on condition that she sign a bond not to go back onto the runway. She refused, so the sentence was imposed. And Margaretta has ended up in Limerick Prison.

Margaretta has rightly claimed that Ireland is an active ally and participant in illegal wars. The State has responded by demanding her silence and her inaction. Indeed it's not the first time it has gone to great lengths to protect the illegality being perpetrated at Shannon. Arrests, court cases, barring of activists from the airport, restrictions imposed on protests - these and other violations of civil liberties have all become par for the course in a government-led curtailment of open discussion about what's going on at Shannon. The extent to which public opinion is being ignored is evident from the fact that in a 2013 poll conducted for PANA by Red C, 78% of people expressed the view that Ireland should have a policy of neutrality. It's not something that gets spoken about by government Ministers. Indeed despite what Article 5 of the Irish Constitution says about Ireland being a "sovereign, independent, democratic state", the military-industrial complex is alive and well here, with the mainstream media giving it all the support they can muster.

Margaretta and Niall Farrell are due in court again next week, on January 22nd, to answer another charge relating to action they took at Shannon. This one was on September 1st 2013 when it looked likely that the US was about to declare war on Syria. Throughout the world there was considerable fear that there would a dangerous escalation of the conflict there, and as Pope Francis was leading the faithful in prayer for an end to war in Syria, Margaretta and Niall once again made their way to Shannon to express their opposition to a US war against Syria. These actions are now forcing the State and the media to take note; sooner or later they will have to acknowledge the strong anti-war sentiment that exists throughout the country.

Shannonwatch unreservedly supports Margaretta, and condemns the heavy handed approach taken by the authorities who imprisoned her. We've joined the campaign calling for her immediate release, and we will be organising protests outside Limerick Prison every week until such time as this happens. However as Margaretta herself said from prison, the ultimate objective is not just to free her, it is to free Shannon from the US Military.

Finally, the term prisoner of conscience, which is used to refer to people who have been put into prison for their political or social beliefs or for breaking the law while protesting against a political or social system, fits Margaretta perfectly. In a country where the lip service being paid to human rights is ringing increasingly hollow, the significance of her action is immense. And let's hope that the renewed energy it gives to the peace movement in Ireland yields the desired results.

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Today's protests by Justin Morahan Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:34

The Dublin protest will be outside the Department of Justice offices on Stephen's Green at 1 pm.

There will be a protest outside Labour TD, Derek Nolan's office by the Harbour Hotel near the waterfront in Galway, also at 1pm.

The Limerick protest will be outside Limerick prison at 5 pm.

Margaretta's jailing got an airing in the Seanad yesterday, raised by Sinn Féin TD Mr O Clochartaigh.
Letter to Alan Shatter and acknowledgement by Justin Morahan Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:50

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email.

Christopher Quattrociocchi
Private Secretary [Minister Alan Shatter]

Dear Mr Shatter

Despite the continued abuse of Shannon airport by US troops passing
through it, no inspection of the US war planes has been sanctioned by
you. Meanwhile US drones continue to kill civilians (among others) in

When a woman called Margaretta D'Arcy protested non-violently against
this continued shameful wrongdoing inside Shannon airport, you have
jailed her.


I call on you to release her forthwith and accede to her just and
rightful demand that all military aircraft are inspected by Gardaí to
ensure that they are not carrying weapons, or prisoners for rendition.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan

pacifist, human rights activist

Dublin protest by Justin Morahan - Dublin protest Fri Jan 17, 2014 16:46

About 150 people attended the Dublin protest. Gardaí barred the entrance, so the crowds were along the street and standing on the steps.
Margaretta D'Arcy jailed by Sean O Riain Sun Jan 19, 2014 13:58

The jailing of Margaretta D'Arcy is absolutely disgraceful - we should hang our heads in shame.
Peace activists Justin Morahan and Colm Roddy are an example to the rest of us. Maith sibh

Saor Margaretta D'Arcy - laithreach
Vid of Dublin demonstration & message of solidarity by Ciaron - Pitstop Ploughshares Mon Jan 20, 2014 20:31

Solidarity with Margaretta and ongoing resistance at Shannon Airport to Irish complicity at in imperial wars.

Last night, WikiLeaks tweeted out this 10 min vid on the Dublin demonstration

Well worth watching
Margaretta's Stand by Justin Morahan Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:22

Further thoughts on the implications of Margaretta's actions and Sabina Higgins's visit to her can be found on my blog Three Little Dogs under the heading "Margaretta's Stand"
Related Link:
Global Women's Strike protest Wednesday 11am - 1pm by Justin Morahan Tue Jan 21, 2014 17:19

Tomorrow, Global Women's Strike have organized a protest in London for Margaretta. It will take place outside the Irish Embassy at 17 Grosvenor Place,London SW1X 7HR.
Solidarity Margaretta by fred Wed Jan 22, 2014 08:34

Margaretta got a (passing) mention on Vincent Browne by a guest journalist the other night on the garda corruption program.

Solidarity Margaretta. Your brave action is continuing to shine a light on the cowardly behaviour of our garda and authorities regarding US planes using the airport at Shannon.

If you get a chance, please make sure to once again highlight the fact that, in this time of recession and cuts to special needs assistants and services to the disabled, our government continues to waive commercial airport charges for the US military using our cash strapped airport at shannon
Urgent Notice Dublin Protest today at Dáil by Justin Morahan Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:57

The protest for Margaretta has been put forward to today Wednesday. It will take place outside Dáil Éireann from 1 pm to 2pm.

Point very well made Fred about the Government waiving airport charges for US war planes and crippling the less well off with cuts and extra charges to get the banks out of difficulty and corruption.
Immediate release by Felix Quigley - Trotskyist Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:59

I call for the immediate release of Margaretta. The whole Irish working class must stand behind her in order that the necessary discussion on perspectives can take place. If we are all in prison it cannot.
a principled stand by Frances Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:22

She has taken a principled stand against the US military use of Shannon Airport and has asked supporters to campaign for the release of Shannon from the same military use. It is a bit much to demand that "The whole Irish working class must stand behind her" seeing as the main support for her so far has been letters to the papers from isolated individuals whose class background is not apparent. Whoever the letter writers may be they seem to understand the issue at stake. Shannon Airport must not be turned into a refuelling depot for foreign warplanes.
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