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Anti-war TDs jailed after failing to pay fines for Shannon Airport protest

Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have been jailed after refusing to pay fines over an anti-war protest at Shannon Airport.

Wallace, a former builder who lives on Clontarf Road in Dublin, spent about two hours in Limerick Prison before being given temporary release.

Several hours later, Daly, from Swords in north Dublin, was brought from the capital to the same jail to be processed at about 9pm.

The pair were found guilty of entering a restricted zone in Shannon Airport on July 22 last year in a failed attempt to inspect a US C-130 and another military plane.

After his brief spell behind bars, Wallace insisted he was not freed after getting special treatment.

“I can’t control the system,” he said. “If I’m arrested and brought to Limerick and I only spend a couple of hours there, there’s nothing I can do.”

He vowed to keep campaigning against the US military having access to Shannon.

“We will continue to highlight the fact that Shannon should never be used by US military,” he said.

The Irish Prison Service declined to comment on the jailings, adding that it does not reveal details of individual cases.

But sources said it is standard practice for people being sent to prison for non-payment of fines to be released within a day, and often within hours.

Wallace was allowed out of jail under temporary release arrangements.

He is obliged to be of good behaviour, sober and to live at a given address – and if he breaches the conditions he could be returned to jail.

Wallace and Daly used a 12ft (3.7m) rope ladder to scale a perimeter fence at the airport.

The TDs were intercepted by airport security on a grass verge next to an area known as taxiway 11, the runway apron, in an attempt to get to two US military aircraft.

A lunchtime flight from London Heathrow, which was making a final approach when the pair walked out, landed without incident.

Following the conviction in Ennis District Court in April, and a sentence of 2,000 euro fines or 30 days in jail, they insisted they would rather serve time behind bars.

On his release, Wallace added: “The reason we climbed over the fence was not because we wanted to break the peace but because we wanted to keep the peace.

“It is horrific what is happening in the Middle East. It is estimated that between 1.3 and 2.1 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq have been killed by the US and western forces.

“Unfortunately our government facilitates that by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military airbase.

“We have refugees being created every day as we speak. Our government claims that they care for refugees out there but they are refusing to do something about the causes.

“There are 33 million people displaced around the world because of war – it does not make any sense. We pretend that it’s not happening.

“I find it hard to credit the government’s hypocrisy to pretend that they are not complicit in the wanton destruction of these people’s lives by allowing the use of Shannon.”

Edward Horgan, spokesman for Shannonwatch, which monitors and campaigns against US military use of the airport, said: “They have demanded inspection of these planes in parliament, and as a result they were told to bring evidence to the minister to support their demands.

“All they did was to try to get that evidence.”

Dr Horgan, a former Irish Army officer and United Nations elections’ inspector, said it was not credible for the government to say that US military aircraft going through Shannon are not engaged in military operations or exercises and not carrying weapons, munitions or war materials.

Niall Farrell, of the Galway Alliance Against War, who was himself arrested over protests at Shannon, hit out at the timing of the arrest.

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“In this supposed season of peace and goodwill the authorities have arrested the peacemaker deputy Mick Wallace,” he said.

Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have been jailed after refusing to pay fines over an anti-war protest at Shannon Airport.


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