Australian peace activist on trial in Ireland cleared
July 26, 2006
An Australian peace activist on trial in Ireland for allegedly helping disable a US navy plane in the lead-up to the Iraq war was acquitted yester-day. Ciaron O’Reilly, 46, from Mitchelton in Brisbane’s north-west, was charged with causing criminal damage without a lawful excuse, after he and four other peace activists allegedly disabled the plane early on February 3, 2003 at Ireland’s Shannon Airport.
Also acquitted at Dublin’s Four Courts were Irish nationals Deirdre Clancy and Damien Moran, Scottish woman Karen Fallon and American Nuin Dunlop.
The unanimous verdict was handed down after about three hours of deliberations.
The five had pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they faced a maximum of 10 years’ jail.
The group are members of the pacifist Catholic Worker Movement and follow the biblical mandate in Isaiah to “beat swords into ploughshares”, or in simpler terms to dismantle military and nuclear arms equipment.
“The jury is the conscience of the community chosen randomly from Irish society,” the group said in a statement on its website, http://www.indymedia.ie.
“The conscience of the community has spoken.
“The government has no popular mandate in providing the civilian Shannon airport to service the US war machine in it’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.”
The US government estimated the group caused $US2.5 million ($A3.36 million) in damage to the aircraft.
The group did not deny they were responsible for the dismantling, but claimed they needed to disable the plane to prevent further damage being done in the Iraq war.
The group said the ruling should send a message that Ireland wanted no part in waging war on the people of Iraq.
“Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately,” the statement said.