Politicians back anti-war action on US planes

A GROUP of politicians backing anti-war protesters who face trial for damage to a US warplane have said they would support further direct action against American military aircraft.

TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh of Sinn Féin, Independent Tony Gregory and Independent Senator David Norris said they would condone another attack aimed at grounding aircraft involved in the war in Iraq.

John Gormley TD of the Green Party and Independent TD Finian McGrath said protesters should consider chaining themselves to the aircraft instead.

The trial of five protesters charged with criminal damage for a hammer attack on a US plane at Shannon in February 2003 collapsed for a second time last Monday after it was suggested presiding justice, Judge Donagh McDonagh had attended the inauguration of US President George W Bush and was pictured with him at an event when Mr Bush was Governor of Texas.

The five are: Ciaron O’Reilly, aged 45, from Australia; Damien Moran, aged 25, from Offaly; Nuin Dunlop, aged 34, from the US; Karen Fallon, aged 34, from Scotland; and, Deirdre Clancy, aged 35, from Dublin. They are accused of damaging the aircraft to the cost of $2.5 million (€2.12m), which it has been suggested the taxpayer may have to pay for.

They were remanded on continuing bail to today when their case is up for mention at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, where the possibility of a fresh trial will be considered.

Their first trial was abandoned in March after issues were raised by the defence which then presiding justice, Judge Frank McDonnell, ordered the media not to disclose.

Yesterday, the five politicians held a press conference calling for the charges against the protesters to be dropped. Asked if their support for the five meant they endorsed breaking the law, the politicians gave diverse answers.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said the Iraq war was a breach of international and Irish law.

“If somebody attacked the Gulfstream (military jet), I would fully endorse somebody taking action against that aircraft which has been transporting people illegally around the world to Guantanamo Bay,” he said.

Tony Gregory said he would support another attack given the exceptional circumstances involved.

Mr Norris said: “If this does happen (again), it would not grieve me at all that an aircraft that was used in the bombing of Baghdad and the killing of innocent people would be disabled.”

Mr Gormley said it was probably “better to tie yourself to the plane”. Mr McGrath said protesters should continue chaining themselves to planes.

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