TD Mick Wallace arrested for non-payment of Shannon Airport security breach fine
Independent TD Mick Wallace has been arrested after refusing to pay a fine for breaching security in an anti-war protest at Shannon Airport.
The former builder, with an address in Clontarf Road, Dublin, was found guilty along with fellow Independent TD Clare Daly of entering a restricted zone in July last year in a failed attempt to inspect a US C-130 and another military plane.
The pair, who used a 12ft (3.7m) rope ladder to scale a perimeter fence, were fined 2,000 euro (£1,446) each at Ennis District Court in April and given until the end of July to pay or serve a 30-day jail sentence.
Supporters confirmed Wallace had been detained in Dublin.
Niall Farrell, of the Galway Alliance Against War, who was himself arrested over protests at Shannon, hit out at the timing of the arrest.
“In this supposed season of peace and goodwill the authorities have arrested the peacemaker Deputy Mick Wallace,” he said.
Mr Farrell said the arrest “highlights once more the hypocrisy of this government” supporting peace in the world and Irish neutrality but allowing Shannon Airport to be used by the US military.
Wallace and Daly always expected to serve jail time over their protest.
Despite the threat hanging over them following the conviction, the Wexford TD said at the time: “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.”
During the trial Wallace cited the Nuremberg principles in that he felt he had a duty to search the aircraft after repeatedly failing to get information from the Government on possible munitions cargos and alleged renditions.
Wallace also insisted he did not carry out the protest to “break the peace but to keep the peace”.
The TDs were intercepted by airport security on July 22 2014 at 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 to the airport when the pair walked out, landed without incident.
Shannonwatch, which monitors and campaigns against US military use of the airport, called for Mr Wallace to be released.
Spokesman Edward Horgan, a former Irish Army officer and United Nations elections’ inspector, 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.”
Shannonwatch said, in light of air strikes on Syria, it was particularly important for Ireland to disassociate itself from US foreign policy.
Dr Horgan 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.
Mr Wallace is due to serve some or all of the 30 day sentence in Limerick prison.
As he was driven up to the prison gates in the back of a Garda car, Wallace said: “It won’t be as bad for me as it is for the people in Syria and Afghanistan.”