Thursday, 10 December 2015

The nonviolent protest action of two Irish parliamnetarians at Shannon airport

See also earlier blog Theatre of the Absurd in Ennis Court 

Yesterday, two TDs were taken away separately from their parliamentary duties in Dublin and driven separately to prison in Limerick.  Limerick is about 200 km from Dublin.

First Mick Wallace, a thorn in the side of government bureaucracy and corruption, was picked up by appointment at Clontarf Garda station, allowed to call to his home for a few personal items and driven to prison.  He was released after two hours, apparently because of the revolving door system. His release is conditional.

A short time after his release in faraway Limerick, Clare Daly, having said goodbye to her daughter,  was being driven to the same prison. She was processed there for about 90 minutes and then she too was released conditionally. 

Both of these elected representatives to the Dáil or Irish Parliament's lower house (where the bulk of legislation is enacted) had been waiting to be picked up to serve a sentence of one month in Limerick prison.   Both had refused to pay a fine of €2000 each, on principle. To highlight Ireland's complicity in multiple wars they had scaled the fence at Shannon airport last year to inspect the US  planes which they knew were carrying troops and arms to various war zones.

After a prolonged trial, both TDs were found guilty of transgressing airport laws.  Right was on their side, morals and ethics were on their side.  Witnesses gave first hand evidence of having seen weapons on civilian US aircraft. Experts testified that using a civilian airport in this way was complicity in war, that the two TDs were trying to save lives. The two told the court that they had asked the Gardaí and relevant Minister in the Dáil time after time to ensure that none of these planes were carrying arms  They had been told to find evidence themselves and come back with it to the Minister.  So they scaled the fence to find the evidence first hand and were arrested.

The judge believed all of the evidence given on their behalf.  But they had transgressed.  He fined them €2000 each, with one month prison in default.

The active witness of Clare Daly and Mick Wallace at Shannon was an example of nonviolent action at its best.  Like the earlier actions of Margaretta D'Arcy and Niall Farrell (who sat on the runway in a similar protest) and the even earlier actions of the Pitstop Ploughshares (Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, Ciaran O’Reilly) who decommissioned a warplane before the GW Bush invasion of Iraq, and Mary Kelly who performed the same feat at the same airport a short time earlier, these are actions worthy of praise.

Gene Sharp and Erica Chenoweth would have given it their academic blessing.  Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Jesus Christ among others would have approved and would have given it a more substantive blessing.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Revelations re Shannon and Ireland's complicity in War

from Shannonwatch

Shannonwatch, 23rd Sept 2015

Extent of Shannon and Ireland’s Complicity in War Revealed

The Department of Transport has revealed that in 2014 a total of 272 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport. In response to a freedom of information request by Shannonwatch they confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East. The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace. Again the majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.

The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. Close to twenty requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused. It would only state that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The information provided by the Department shows the alarming level of support that Ireland is giving to US military operations overseas” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. “Over 550 permits were granted to airlines carrying troops, weapons and explosives to their forward operating bases. There would seem to be an overwhelming bias towards facilitating flights from the US and other NATO countries. How can our government claim we are in any way neutral when this is happening?”

“The information reveals flights going to the likes of Saudi Arabia which is dropping cluster bombs on Yemen” continued John Lannon. “When we see the scale of the refugee crisis created by the use of weapons in Syria we begin to get a glimpse of how arms shipments can impact on a region. It’s not something we should be part of.”

The companies identified as carrying weapons and other war related material for the US include Atlas Air, Omni Air International, Southern Air, National Airlines, Delta Air, Kalitta Air and North American Airlines. 

 “The records received by Shannonwatch reveal a lack of transparency, no proper oversight and little regard for the consequences of war.” according to John Lannon. “It is shameful that the Department of Transport had to be compelled under freedom of information legislation to make these details available. Why couldn’t the government have answered some of the many requests made by TDs like Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Sinn Fein’s Sean Crowe for details of what is being brought through Shannon by the US army?”

Even though the Department of Transport has finally made this data available, Shannonwatch say that they still don’t know what is on the US Air Force Hercules that land at Shannon. “These aircraft are exempt from freedom of information and the only way to find out what is on them is to do what Mick Wallace and Clare Daly tried to do in July of last year, which was to inspect the planes themselves.” said John Lannon.

Former army commandant Edward Horgan who is also a Shannonwatch member said “The FOI documents show that on 6 particular flights the amount of small arms ammunition, that is bullets, sent from the USA to Afghanistan in 2014 amount to almost 420,000 lbs weight which is about 190 metric tons. We are led to believe that these flights were approved to fly through Irish airspace by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

“In my (military) opinion, this ammunition was probably intended to supply the Afghan army. However, given how events have developed in Iraq, where huge amounts of arms including tanks and armoured vehicles and vast quantities of ammunition supplied by the US to the Iraqi army, was both captured and handed over to ISIS and other militia groups, then it is not unlikely that in time, much of this 190 metric tons of ammunition sent by the US to Afghanistan in 2014 could be captured or handed over to the Taliban and other such groups”.

“US arms manufacturers will be delighted with these developments as they will continue to replace all this ammunition expended in wars, or stolen and handed over to the likes of ISIS”.

The information provided to Shannonwatch reveals US troop movements via Shannon to airports in Eastern Europe as well as to Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Shannonwatch have published a complete list of all the flights on their website, with details of flight sources and destinations, what they were carrying and whether or not the plane landed in Ireland.

For more information contact 087 8225087 or email

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Letter to Governor Mary Fallin re unjust execution of Richard Glossip

Dear Mary

You have the unbelievable power to stop an unjust execution and give a chance to a proper defence team to fight the injustice for the first time.

With that power comes responsibility

Please change your mind and grant a stay to Richard Glossip who, you must know by now, was stitched up for the murder of Mr Van Treese, when they interviewed Justin Sneed and hid the video of the interview.

What a shambles of a prosecution on which to justify the taking of innocent human life.  No fingerprints, no DNA evidence.  Only the word of the killer prompted by State interrogators.

Poverty is not a crime.  Richard's poverty denied him a proper defence.

The death penalty is utterly barbaric.  "We think you're guilty by our standards, therefore we kill you" is a motto worthy of Jihadi John and his Isis clan of murderers. Please don't join them.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan
Pacifist, human rights activist
Dublin Ireland

Monday, 14 September 2015

Full list of Jeremy Corbyn's new Cabinet - from Social Media

Nigel Morris

New shadow Environment Sec Kerry McCarthy - who'll be dealing with farmers - is a vegan
12:56 PM - 14 Sep 2015

Full list of shadow cabinet appointments:
Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Party Chair and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Tom Watson MP

Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
John McDonnell MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Seema Malhotra MP

Shadow Home Secretary
Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary
Hilary Benn MP

Opposition Chief Whip
Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Heidi Alexander MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education
Lucy Powell MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Falconer of Thoroton

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention
Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Lisa Nandy MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Chris Bryant MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Lilian Greenwood MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Diane Abbott MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
Ian Murray MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Nia Griffith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Kerry McCarthy MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Kate Green MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration
Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Luciana Berger MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lords Chief Whip
Lord Bassam of Brighton

Shadow Attorney General
Catherine McKinnell MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio
Jonathan Ashworth MP

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning
John Healey MP

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Churches should Open to Refugees and Poor

Over a week ago I wrote to the Irish Examiner, Irish Independent and Irish Times suggesting that our churches should open their doors to the poor and to refugees.  None of the three newspapers published my letter but the Examiner put part of it on their online edition.

My suggestion was not anti-religion or anti-church.  It was a practical proposal.  Many churches are only half full at weekends.  The Irish winter can be cold, bitter, wet, windy and dark - in other words miserable - not forgetting that hail, snow frost, thunder and lightning come when they will.  The plight of the homeless in Ireland, because of its prolonged and desolate winter can be unbearable especially for the weak.

The proposal is for all places of worship.  The largest Churches are Christian in Ireland.  The founder of the Christian church advised his then Jewish followers not to worship either on the Holy Mount or in the Temple.  He also advised them that when they wished to pray, not to do so openly but in secret.  That founder is respected in most religions including Islam but his teaching has been largely ignored.  It would be a good time to put his advice into practice.  His was a humane  teaching.  I cannot see him asking his followers to spare large comfortable buildings for worship when humans of every shade are in dire need of food and shelter.

I believe that the followers of most religions would respond positively to my suggestion.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

"Kidnapping" or "Abduction" alleged by Pat Kenny in Tallaght protest


As a pacifist I don't engage in violence.  So, I don't approve of the throwing of a well documented single brick towards Tanaiste Joan Burton by one individual at last year's peaceful Tallaght protest against water charges.  (It missed).  Nor would I approve even of someone throwing a water balloon at the same Tanaiste and scoring a "hit".  Although, the throwing of a water balloon is much akin to throwing a soft snowball - there can be a fun element in it as well as intent to cause mild distress.

Neither would I personally hold up someone's car purposely by joining with others to surround it for over two hours.  The danger here is that over such a long time someone - either an angry protestor or an agent provocateur - will bang at least once on the car and the occupants may correctly or mistakenly fear for their physical safety.

Especially when I believe, as in this instance, that the protest is justified, I would always advise that it should be absolutely peaceful.

The cost to the vast majority in a peaceful protest when an individual resorts to the throwing of a water balloon or banging on a car or throwing a brick is monstrous.  It gives an excuse to those who oppose the protest to lyingly  label the whole protest as "violent".  It also can give rise to charges in a court of law.

The above incidents were reported  as having happened in Tallaght last year.

The news emerged last night that no fewer than 23 of last year's protestors at Tallaght are now to be charged variously with "false imprisonment", "violent disorder", "public order charges" and/or "criminal damage charges".

One of the people present at the protest was Paul Murphy, an anti-Austerity T.D in the present Dáil.

Paul Murphy is a non-violent person.  This morning there was an item about the protest on "Newstalk 106", a commercial radio station owned by billionaire Denis O'Brien. It concerned an earlier interview with Paul Murphy

The speaker was Patrick Kenny, better known as Pat Kenny, who could be described as the silver-tongued doyen of the right wing, conservative, pro-establishment radio hosts who flood the air waves of Ireland.

In his flagging of the subject beforehand, Pat Kenny referred astonishingly to the "kidnapping" or "abduction" of Joan Burton in Tallaght.

To Kidnap is defined in the Oxford dictionary as:
to abduct (someone) and hold them captive, typically to obtain a ransom.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is defined as:
To seize and detain or carry away someone by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom.

In Ireland the word "kidnap" reminds people of the violent kidnapping and imprisonment of Tiede Herrema (1975) during which an Irish Garda lost a finger in a shooting incident, and the violent kidnapping (1987) of dentist John O'Grady who had his two little fingers cut off in an effort by his kidnappers to force a ransom.

"Kidnapping" here is an extremely ugly and loathsome word.  The wily and intelligent Pat Kenny would be aware of this.

He would also know that kidnapping as a crime has been removed from the Irish Statute Book by the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act of 1997. So he has no fear of legal consequences as a result of using the word in respect of the Tallaght protestors.  He can throw sludge all over the accused and slide away to the next topic.  

The reverential hushed tones of his interviewer voice and his pleasant bedside confessional manner with interviewees are completely out of kilter with the vicious damage he can cause to the reputations of innocent people by his clever choice of words.

This was a low, mean, hit-and-run blow by Mr Kenny, a flagrant upping of the ante against the still innocent protestors.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ireland Votes for Same Sex Marriage

The votes have not even been counted but tallies have told the story.  The Irish people have voted in favour of same sex marriage by a big majority.

Even massive anti-Government anger over austerity  did not prevent the electorate from supporting what was in fact a Government proposition.

The campaign was hard and sometimes bitter.  The Catholic bishops threw their weight in against the YES vote.  Their voice was ignored.

Tens of thousands of emigrants returned for the referendum.  Tens of thousands of stories were told - heart-breaking stories of prejudice and bullying endured by young lovers whose love was not allowed to speak its name. Not so long ago, homosexuality was a criminal offence in Ireland. Not so long ago a gay man was murdered in Fairview Park and his murderers paraded openly celebrating his murder.

Gradually, with the bravery of people like David Norris who took a case to the European Court of Human Rights and won, things have changed.

Today's referendum win is a sea change for the better for Ireland.
Other brave people in the public eye like journalist Una Mullally, TV3's Ursula Halligan, Government minister Leo Varadkar as well as leading GAA and other sportspeople "came out" and declared themselves lesbian or gay.  Their courage has been rewarded today.  They have helped make Ireland a better society. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Theatre of the Absurd in Ennis Court

On Wednesday 22 April Judge Patrick Durcan found Clare Daly TD and Mick Wallace TD "guilty as charged" and they will face a sentence of 30 days imprisonment if they fail to pay fines of €2000 each.

This is another example of the petty and hypocritical system of justice that obtains in Ireland.  Who will now charge the Irish government with complicity in war crimes?

The judge had heard evidence that weapons galore were found on US planes at Shannon. The Irish government has been in denial of this. Gardaí have orders not to conduct searches. The TDs were challenged by Ministers to find evidence. They went over the perimeter fence at the airport to do just that. They were arrested and charged with breaking airport bye-laws. And they were found guilty.

Both of these honourable, elected representatives of the Irish people had gone to extraordinary lengths to obtain straight answers in the Dáil as to why US aircraft both military and civilian were, contrary to law, carrying weapons to theatres of war through Shannon airport without being searched. They had been fobbed off with deceitful and clever replies: the Government was certain that no laws were broken because the US government had given them assurances
and the irish government believed those assurances.  But if the Deputies had any evidence of planes at Shannon carrying arms they should bring the evidence immediately to the attention of the Gardaí.

So, the deputies with some difficulty, climbed over the fence.

Their arrest meant that they themselves found no evidence.  But it turned up at their trial in Ennis. Dr Tom Clonan, a former Irish Army officer, had been given access to two US military planes and had seen the arms. Two airport workers, Patrick O'Toole and Robert Gardiner similarly saw the arms on board several times.  They courageously informed the court.

Over two days in 2014 and 2015 we had heard these voices of reason and sanity ring out in that courtroom. Others gave evidence about possible war crimes being committed at Shannon by the government. Dr Ed Horgan, Dr John Lannon, Denis Halliday, Margaretta D'Arcy, Robert Zamora, Mick Wallace TD and Clare Daly TD All of the expert evidence that the Government had asked for was there.  The judge said he accepted all of it as true.

Arms were being carried on board the US planesthrough our civilian airport.

Then, on judgement day, as if we were characters from the absurd watching a scene from Franz Kafka or Albert Camus or Neil Caiman - or all three together - we partially heard the words from the bench.  They were uttered sotto voce at breakneck speed and, of course, the defence would not be given a written copy. The gist of it was that international crimes were not a matter for the court. It was a crime however to climb over the fence and ask to inspect US planes.

It was as if Judge Durcan had accepted the expert evidence but had not heard it  There had been no war in Iraq or Afghanistan, no rendition flights, no Guantanamo, no passage of 2.25 million US troops through Shannon airport, no million dead, no 4 million displaced, no chaos in Syria and Iraq, no rise of Isis and no Irish participation in all of this deserving of examination or scrutiny.  An airport bye-law had been breached. The judge said the two were guilty as charged.

The two elected representatives had failed to get eye-witness evidence of their own to show to the Minister that international crimes were being committed at Shannon airport. But who cares about that? All the eye-witness evidence given to the court by accepted witnesses was irrelevant.  All that talk about the responsibilities of citizens to break unjust laws as laid down in the Nuremberg principles was irrelevant as was the fact that district courts must take cognisance of matters where human rights are infringed.

The judge had a simpler decision to make.  The two parliamentarians had infringed airport bye-laws.  Therefore "guilty as charged".

Or as the prosecutor had put it to the two defendants:  "Ye went over the fence.  It's as simple as that".