Report on Appearance (for Mention) of Peace Activists Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling at Ennis Court

Report prepared by an interested party who attended the court

At Ennis District Court today, peace activists Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling were before the court, as part of an ongoing prosecution case against them for allegedly writing some graffiti on a US warplane at Shannon Airport on 25 April 2017. This particular hearing was just for mention, to set a future date for further mention dates, and to discuss issues such as ongoing bail conditions and discovery of documents by the prosecution to the defence. What could possibly go wrong?

Well based on previous cases involving peace activists on trial at Ennis District court, well - stuff happens. Allegedly writing some graffiti on an aircraft is probably the most trivial alleged offence to come before Ennis District Court in recent decades. Yet Judge Patrick Durcan dropped a bombshell (sorry I should not have used such a dangerous analogy!) when he announced that he was refusing to accept jurisdiction in this case, (wait for it!) because it was such a serious matter. Edward Horgan dared to ask the Judge to explain the basis for his decision to shoot (oops) this case up to the Circuit Court level . Judge Durcan declined to offer any coherent explanation except that this was his judgement and decision. Both defendants then requested to have their onerous bail conditions reduced. Dan Dowling was first to be heard and he was partly successful in having his conditions modified. When Edward Horgan queried his bail conditions Judge Durcan went down the list of conditions as follows:

1. Stay out of Shannon airport, Shannon town, and their environs - Judge decided to come back to this condition at the end.

2. Sign on at Henry Street Garda Station between 9am and 9pm each Saturday

3. Reside at his home address in, Castletroy, Limerick

4. Notify Gardai 24hours prior to change of address

5. Provide mobile number to Gardai and answer calls to Gardai

Conditions 2,3,4,5 were removed after arguments by Edward that they were unnecessary and punitive even though he had never been convicted of any crime. He focused especially in condition 5. Which he said was the equivalent of the Gardai using his mobile phone as a form of electronic tagging, which is a punishment that can only be imposed by a court on convicted persons.

6. Agree to a personal bond of €500

Edward agreed to condition 6, a personal bond of €500.

Back then to condition 1. Stay out of Shannon airport, Shannon town, and their Environs -
Edward had already made the following written submission to the prosecuting Inspector Kennedy:

"The condition to stay out of Shannon town, and its environs prevents me from pursuing my constitutional right under Article 40.6.1.i. of Bunreacht na hÉireann which states: "The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:" The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions. ..." Article 40.6.1.ii. The right of the citizens to assemble peaceably and without arms. The condition to stay out of Shannon town and its environments unduly curtails my rights under the above mentioned paragraphs of Article 40 of Bunreacht na hÉireann for the following reasons. I am part of a group of peace activists who have been holding peace vigils at Shannon airport for almost 16 years since November 2001. Since July 2008, we have been holding specific peace vigils on the second Sunday of each month from 2pm to 3pm as well as other peace vigils on special occasions. All these peace vigils are conducted in accordance with strict rules of non-violence, the intention and actual outcome of these peace vigils is to inform the public in Ireland of serious breaches of international and Irish laws being committed at Shannon airport.

Edward said he was prepared to undertake to stay out of Shannon airport, but not stay out of Shannon town and its environs.

Inspector Kennedy argued that he considered this bail condition to be necessary and the Judge agreed.

Edward then said he was not prepared to sign the new Bail Recognisance on this basis. This led to a stand-off and quite a bit of tooing and froing. At one point Edward was effectively detained by a Garda in court and told he was not free to leave the court until such time as he signed the Bail Recognisance form. After some discussion between the Garda, the Inspector and the Court Clerk, Edward was told, that if he refused the sign the new form, then the old Bail Recognisance form he signed on 26 April will apply by default. Edward then announced that he was revoking his signature on this previous form. In the meantime Edward was making preparations with Sean Ryan, his McKensie friend advisor, to have a writ of Habeas Corpus submitted to the High Court on his behalf if he was imprisoned due to his refusal to sign the Bail Recognisance frorm. During all this time the Judge was trying impatiently to deal with other cases. After some further discussions Edward then decided to sign the new less onerous Bail Recognisance form, but to either seek a Judicial Review of this Judge's decision or appeal this Bail Recognisance decision to the Circuit Court.

As the old Seanachai used to say, "Things rested so". Well for the moment.

The Judges decision today to refer this case upwards to the Circuit Court means a jury trial at very considerable expense to the Irish taxpayer, with little likelihood of a conviction. Even if there is a conviction, there will be an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and beyond that if necessary to the Supreme Court, and even into the European Court of Human Rights.

This case is only at the very early stages yet, but it's getting interesting.

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