Since the shameful handover of Shannon Airport to the US military in 2002, a small number of peace activists have taken it upon themselves to take direct action to highlight the criminality of what is going on there. The latest two actiwists to take action, Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan, will appear in Ennis court on Sept 14th. This is not a full hearing but we nonetheless call on as many supporters as possible to get there to support them.
Direct action comes at a personal cost for those who act. But because it is a physical act, it often speaks louder and deeper than anything activists might say or write. In effect, the action itself tells the story.
The list below provides a timely reminder of some of the direct action events at Shannon over the years. Thanks to a long-time friend and supporter of direct action and anti-war activism for compiling the list.
- September 2002: Eoin Dubsky went into the airport and painted 'No way' on a warplane. He was subsequently fined.
- January 2003: Mary Kelly went over the fence and dis-armed a military plane with an axe (C-40 transport). She was finally cquitted by the Court of Criminal Appeal in February 2011; a previous judge had refused to allow her 'lawful excuse' argument.
- February 2003: The Pitstop Ploughshares five dis-armed the same (newly repaired) plane (C-40 transport) a few days after Mary Kelly. The 5 (Karen Fallon, Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Ciaron O'Reilly and Damien Moran) were acquitted of criminal damage by a jury in July 2006 after a previous two trials collapsed. This year marked the 10th Anniversary of their acquital.
- October 2012: Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell, both members of Galway Alliance Against War, went onto the runway at Shannon. Margaretta got 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 ended up in Limerick prison and subsequently the Dóchas centre in Mountjoy prison. Niall Farrell received a three month suspended sentence.
- September 2013: Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell returned to the Shannon runway. They were subsequently found guilty of having "interfered with the proper use" of Shannon airport and sentences of two weeks imprisonment (suspended) with conditions attached including the signing of a bond. Margaretta, and later Niall, were subsequently imprisoned for non-compliance.
- July 2014: Clare Daly TD and Mick Wallace TD entered the airport by climbing over the fence and proceeded towards two US military aircraft. They were subsequently convicted of breaching airport regulations and fined €2000 each. They refused to pay the fines and as a result spent short time imprisoned.
- April 2015: Edward Horgan attempts to inspect US military aircraft parked near the terminal building. The case against him was dismissed in April 2016.
- May 2016: Colm Roddy and Dave entere4d the airport and were charged with criminal damage to a fence.
Direct actions are a legitimate and effective means of protest; they show that resistence is possible, they challenge the power structures that refuse to respond to other forms of activism, and they are a powerful expression of solidarity with the people suffering from the wars supported by Shannon. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have taken direct action at Shannon, for taking the risks they did and for taking a stand against war
We need more like them.
We need to keep the pressure on a government that refuses to listen.