Shatter defends jailing of Margaretta D’Arcy

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has roundly defended the imprisonment of an elderly and ill anti-war activist, visited in jail this week by the President’s wife, saying the woman should “not be presented in heroic guise”.

Ms Higgins went to Limerick Prison on Sunday to meet Margaretta D’Arcy, 79, who was jailed last week after refusing to sign a bond pledging not to protest again at Shannon Airport.

The writer, playwright and member of Aosdana had been charged after protesting on the runway over its use by US military.

Responding to criticism of the jailing, Mr Shatter said Ms D’Arcy, who is suffering from cancer and Parkinson’s Disease, “had 24-hour access to nursing care in prison and daily access to a doctor.

“I do not believe that the individual concerned should be presented in heroic guise or that it is in the public interest that she be so depicted. A court decision has been delivered. I am advised it was not appealed. The signing of the bond to keep the peace would result in the individual’s immediate release.

“The rule of law must prevail even where it creates difficult circumstances. No one is above the rule of law no matter what their age.”

Earlier, President Higgins defended his wife’s actions, on TodayFM. “Sabina was visiting a friend of long-standing whose health is frail and who was a fellow artist. Sabina is a person... of very good judgment. It’s a private and personal visit... to her friend who is fragile and who is a fellow artist.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the visit was appropriate.


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