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.

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