Margaretta D’Arcy has spent one week in Limerick prison for refusing to sign a bond to quit her campaign against the use of Shannon Airport by the US military. This is a scandalous hypocrisy by the Irish state which has taken no action regarding rendition flights and failed to update the UN Council against Torture with regard to an investigation into the use of our airports. Margaretta has said that she will only sign a bond if the Irish Government takes steps to end the US military use of Shannon airport.
Shannon Watch Ireland has reported the continuous use of the airport by US military aircraft since the outbreak of war against Afghanistan in 2001. This is despite the fact that the State has continuously declared itself neutral since the outbreak of World War II in 1939. According to Niall Horgan from Shannon Watch, in recent years the Government has attempted to re-define neutrality in order to justify its entanglement in military alliances such as NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) and European Union (EU) battlegroups under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). However the rules are clearly defined in The Hague Convention, Article 2 of which states that: “Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power.”
Since October 2001 successive Irish Governments have allowed over two and half million armed U.S./NATO troops and large quantities of war materials through Shannon airport on their way to and from the Afghan and Iraq wars, in clear contravention of the customary international laws on neutrality. Without ever considering the detrimental consequences of the wars they are supporting.
The issue raised by Margaretta is not about how the state treats elderly women, although imprisoning an elderly peace activist is certain to be viewed critically by most people, the issue however is a wider one of protecting Irish neutrality and the opposition which exists on an international scale against the on-going slaughter in Afghanistan. Margaretta’s actions were always intended to take a stance in defence of our neutrality and against the devastation of war. I have called on the Minister for Justice to release Margaretta but so far he has refused to do so. Support for Margaretta is growing while the issues she has fought hard for are being highlighted more and more with each day she remains in prison.
Join the weekly protest on Wednesday’s at lunchtime outside the Dáil and show your support for this brave anti war activist.