Sunday, 26 January 2014

Margaretta D’Arcy jailed

ANTI-WAR activist Margaretta D’Arcy was jailed on January 15 for trespassing on the runway at Shannon Airport.

The Galway woman, who is 79, had a three-month suspended sentence activated after she refused to sign a bond to keep away from ‘unauthorised zones’ at Shannon. Margaretta conducted here own defence just as Mary Kelly did in 2003 when she was charged with ‘criminal damage to a US Navy aircraft without lawful excuse’ when she took an axe to a war plane. Based on Mary’s actions Margaretta D’Arcy produced a play called Big Plane, Small Axe. The film follows her ordeal through three successive trials, in Kilrush and Ennis, and finally her sentencing at Limerick.

Well-known as a writer and a member of Aosdána, Margaretta D’Arcy was convicted before Ennis District Court in December, along with fellow activist Niall Farrell, after Judge Patrick Durkan was tols by the prosecution that they had ‘endangered lives’ in blocking two flights from landing at Shannon in October of 2012.

The two members of the Galway Alliance Against War claimed they had a legal right to protest there against US Military use of Shannon.

Both received three-month prison sentences which were suspended on condition they enter into a bond for two years and to stay out of unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport. However, having refused to sign the bond, Margaretta D’Arcy was arrested at her home in Woodquay in Galway on January 15 and taken to Limerick prison to serve her sentence.

Her fellow campaigners have expressed outrage at her detention and a number of pickets and protest are planned in Dublin and Limerick and at Shannon itself on Sunday 9 February.

On January 17 a picket was placed on the 26-County Department of Justice, Stephen’s Green, Dublin. The well attended picket included many of her comrades in the CPI and PANA, members of the Irish arts and TDs.

Musician Dylan Tighe and writer and actor Donal O’Kelly drafted a letter to protest against what they call the “outrageous jailing of artist Margaretta D’Arcy”. The letter is posted on their Facebook pages and they are urging people to sign the letter, with a hope to gather the names of as many Irish artists as possible.

In the letter they stated that as Irish artists they were deeply “disturbed and outraged” at the jailing of D’Arcy, adding that it is “grossly inappropriate and shameful treatment of a 79-year old woman”.

The letter goes on to say that they are in complete solidarity with her actions and “applaud her bravery in a time of tremendous cowardice” and call for her immediate release.

Another picket was placed on Limerick Prison on the evening of January 15 and was very well attended. Shannonwatch said it will continue with the pickets repeating her demands GET THE US MILITARY OUT OF SHANNON.

A picket also took place in Galway on January 20.