Margaretta D’Arcy, 79-year-old feminist, peace activist and film-maker was released from jail on Saturday, March 22, 2014, after serving three months for protesting against the US military use of Ireland's Shannon Airport.
Following her release, Margaretta D'Arcy continued to reject the charges against her and her co-defendant, Niall Farrell, that they were interfering with the 'proper use' of Shannon Airport by going onto the runway in October 2012 and again in September 2013. They were in fact, says Ms D'Arcy, highlighting the 'improper use' of Shannon Airport by the US military, who have effectively colonized an Irish airport.
Since 2003, over 2 million US soldiers and their weapons and thousands of US military aircraft and cargo planes have transited through Shannon Airport, on their way to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. The Government of neutral Ireland has 'improperly' facilitated these movements of troops and weaponry - which could easily have included killer drones and depleted uranium - and failed to inspect any of the military cargos. Neither did the government inspect any of the CIA planes landing at the airport which have been implicated in illegal 'extraordinary rendition' flights.
"It is a fact", stated Ms D'Arcy, "that CIA teams traveled via Shannon en route to kidnap individuals and transfer them to torture venues. This is in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture. Our Government has turned a blind eye. They are complicit in these crimes."
Galway Alliance Against War summed up the motivation for the Shannon protest as follows:
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Over the past twelve years consecutive Irish governments have colluded in Washington's campaign of wars from Afghanistan to Yemen, in which up to 2 million people have perished. By allowing the US military to use Irish airspace and Shannon airport to wage these wars we have become a willing accessory to mass murder. We have blood on our hands…we feel we have no alternative but to block the runway at Shannon to highlight Irish involvement in this carnage.
On her release from prison, Margaretta D'Arcy said, "President Michael D Higgins has called on Irish citizens to have 'conversations' in public places as part of active citizenship. I have sat on a runway, had a court hearing and gone to prison in an attempt to have this 'conversation'."
"I am facing another trial in exactly three months' time. I hope to continue this conversation/dialogue with the Irish people and our Government and judiciary, and to highlight what we have sacrificed as Irish and world citizens by allowing this colonizing of our airport for illegal and immoral purposes."