Belfast Telegraph

TDs may face jail over airport row

Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace face jail if they stand by their vow not to pay 2,000 euro fines for breaching security at Shannon Airport.

Wallace, of Clontarf Road, Dublin, and Daly, of Elmwood Drive, Swords, north Dublin, were found guilty of entering a restricted zone to try to inspect a US Hercules C-130 and another military plane on July 22 last year.

The pair used a 12ft rope ladder to scale the airport's perimeter fence, with Daly suffering cuts to two fingers and her lip in the climb.

The TDs claimed during the trial at Ennis District Court that they had a duty to search the aircraft and that they repeatedly failed to get information from the Government on possible munitions cargos and alleged renditions.

Judge Patrick Durcan told the pair the court was not a battlefield for them to pursue issues which should be heard in another forum.

Outside Daly, 47, and Wallace, 59, said they had no plans to appeal against the conviction but would not pay the fines.

Wallace said: "I wouldn't pay that fine to save my life."

Daly added: "We have absolutely no intention of paying a financial contribution to a state that allows this behaviour to continue."

The judge gave the TDs three months to pay the fines or face 30 days in jail.

The court heard previously that the TDs were intercepted by airport security and subsequently arrested after they made it on to a grass verge next to an area known as taxiway 11, the runway apron.

A US military Hercules C-130 was parked off a main runway at the time, along with another military plane.

A lunchtime flight from London Heathrow was making a final approach to Shannon when the pair were detained and landed without incident.

Wallace said: "We made a very strong argument that we didn't go into Shannon Airport to break the peace, we went in there to keep the peace.

"We are not happy with the fact that arms and munitions come through Shannon and have led to a huge escalation of the militarisation of much of the world.

"The results of that have been horrific right across the Middle East and beyond. Only in the last week we have seen a result of it - close to 900 people drowning in the Mediterranean."

Wallace also said they had been ridiculed as part of their anti-war campaigning.

Daly said they had a duty to breach security at Shannon to get first-hand evidence of the use of the airport as a transit hub for munitions cargo.

"We live in a hypocritical society which allows that to continue but penalises those who try to do something about it," she added.

Judge Durcan fined the TDs 2,000 euro each for two charges of breaching airport bylaws - entering an area of airport they were not permitted in and climbing a wall, fence or barrier or post at the perimeter.

He told them: "The role of this court is not that deemed assumed by the Skibbereen Eagle in a past century," the judge said.

"The role of this court, a court of summary justice, is to consider relevant evidence fairly and impartially."

The now-defunct Skibbereen Eagle gained infamy after an 1898 editorial where it warned that it would keep its eye on the Emperor of Russia.

The judge added: "It's not correct that the courts are used as a battlefield by protagonists who should pursue the issues in another forum."

As for the rope ladder, Wallace said he was "working on" getting it back after he asked for it to be returned during the trial.


From Belfast Telegraph