Peace Activists on Trial - Report from July 20th 2017 at Ennis District Court

Report from our own court correspondant.

Well, as the Seanachai (storyteller) used to say, "things rested so" ...

This was the case at Ennis District Court on 20th July, as four peace activists were once again before the courts. Dave Donnellan's case came up first. He and Colm Roddy are charged with causing criminal damage when they entered Shannon Airport to search some US military aircraft on 25 May 2016, 14 Months ago. Dave and Colm were today given the "book of evidence" and Judge Durcan went through the process of referring their cases up to the Circuit Court level. Their next court appearance date at Circuit Court level will be Monday 25th September 2017. This will be for an eventual trial by Jury. There was a discussion about Free Legal Aid for Dave which was not fully resolved as Dave's suggested solicitor was not from the Clare court area list of Free Legal Aid Solicitors.

Colm's case came up last at about 2.30. Colm was representing himself as usual. He raised two issues. First he stated that because he was initially banned from Co Clare as part of his Bail conditions, and this banning received media publicity he felt he could not receive a fair Jury trial in Co Clare and he requested his trial be transferred to Dublin. Judge Durcan said he could raise this matter when the case came before the Circuit Court. Colm then raised the issue of the confusion caused by his case having been previously struck out by Judge Durcan, and that when it came before a different Judge, this Judge had accepted jurisdiction at District Court level, so why should Judge Durcan now refuse to accept jurisdiction and refer his case to the Circuit Court?. Judge Durcan gave a somewhat unconvincing response and said his decision was based on the rules of the court and that he was entitled to do this. Like Dave Donnellan's case, Colm was served with the Book of Evidence and his case upped to Circuit Court and Jury trial, will be on 25 September.

In the meantime Dan Dowling's and Edward Horgan's cases were called separately. Their similar cases referred their alleged entry into Shannon airport on 25 April this year 2017, to attempt to search two US Navy aircraft, and allegedly writing some Graffiti on the engine of one of the planes. Inspector Kennedy announced that the Book of Evidence was not ready, which meant that we should have been informed of this in advance, and there should have been no need for them to attend in court today. Anyway Dan applied to have his bail conditions reduced, and now does not need to sign on at his local Garda Station at all. Also if he needs to travel through Shannon airport he can get permission from Shannon Gardaí to do so. The case is next "due for mention on 13 September next, and if the book of evidence is ready, then it may be referred up to the Circuit Court also and Jury trial.

Edward Horgan's case was then called and he again raised the issue of his bail conditions, and in particular the condition that he is not allowed go within 5km of Shannon airport. He said this breaches his constitutional rights under Article 40 of Bunreach na hEireann and in particular that he has been acting a peaceful non-violent whistle-blower at Shannon airport since 2001, and this condition prevents him from doing his duty as a whistleblower. He also said that he have been prosecuted before Ennis District Court on five previous occasions and have been found not guilty on all these occasions on all charges. He believed he was being unjustly targeted by the Gardaí on these occasions, and also when arrested at Shannon on 25 April last he had been held for six hours at Shannon Garda Station, and then the period of detention was extended for a additional six hours without any proper justification. Judge Durcan then repeated what he has said at the previous hearing on 7 June that due to the serious nature of the offence (graffiti writing ???) he would not remove this condition. Edward Horgan emphasized that he needed to attend the monthly peace vigils outside Shannon airport and it was eventually agreed that he could apply to Inspector Kennedy to attend such events. That was some little progress. Like Dan Dowling's case, the next for mention hearing for Edward Horgan will be on 13 September next, and we may, or may not, receive the Book of Evidence, and case may, or may not, be referred up to Circuit Court level and jury trial.

"Things rested so."

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