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(en) Ireand, Workers Solidarity issue #93 is - Jury Frees Anti-War Saboteurs by Brian Whelan

Date Fri, 13 Oct 2006 09:01:07 +0200

Five peace activists have been acquitted of all charges in relation
to their disarming of a US navy plane at Shannon airport in February 2003.
The five, calling themselves the Pitstop Ploughshares, used axes and lump
hammers to inflict over $2.5m worth of damage in what they described as a
?non-violent ploughshares action?. In June they received a unanimous
acquittal by using Section 6 of the Criminal Damage Act 1991 which allows
for a ?lawful excuse? where the damage is caused ?in order to protect
another or property belonging to another.? They say they were
acting in defence of civilian life in Iraq, the local infrastructure, the
lives of US soldiers and of Irish people who may become targets of a
terrorist attack as a result of Irish complicity in the war.

Two previous trials were aborted due to incompetent judges, one of
whom failed to mention his close ties to G W Bush. Their acquittal
comes as a blow to the Irish government?s complicity in the US
led war on Iraq and provides an inspiration to others who wish to act
against imperialist forces using Ireland?s airports.
Throughout their three trials anti-war activists came from across the
globe to support them and vigils were held outside the court each
day. US veteran of combat in Iraq Jimmy Massey; Denis Halliday,
an Irishman who had been Assistant Secretary General of the
Nations and head of the ?Oil for Food? programme and
Martin Sheen, who plays the US president in TV?s West Wing
all visited Ireland to show their support for the group.

Ciaran O?Reilly, a member of the group, has been involved in
similar actions around the globe, having spent over 18 months in a
US prison for disarming a B52 bomber during the first gulf war. He
emphasises that it was a ?non-violent direct action? and
strongly denies claims that they overpowered a garda to access the
plane. The court upheld their claims that the garda had been asleep
and the group invited him to join their action and had helped calm
his worries that he would lose his job.
Because of the religious convictions of the group they set up a
outside the hangar with images of dead Iraqi children, video
evidence of US abuse in Iraq and copies of the bible and Koran.
?Pitstop of Death? was painted across the side of the hangar,
Ciaran says this was done to honour the dead and name the airport
for what it is.

Some members of the group have now left the country to continue
their lives while others intend to stay and continue to push for the
end of the US military use of Shannon through mass non-violent
direct action. The army, along with over 40 garda, have been
recently deployed to Shannon following remarks from Ciaran O
Reilly calling on the government to enforce our ?neutrality?
and suggesting that if they don?t then he will call on people to
shut the airport down themselves.

The ploughshares action shows the power that people have to make
a difference when they choose to act. A recent action in which nine
people occupied and sabotaged the offices of the Derry-based
weapons manufacturer Raytheon shows that the spirit of direct
action against militarism continues to grow.
From the anarchist journal Workers Solidarity 93, Sept/Oct 2006
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