Ciaran O’Reilly, 42, an Irish-Australian, is something of a hero to peace activists having already shown he is willing to spend time in jail for his beliefs.
On New Year’s Day, 1991, Mr O’Reilly and three others entered Griffith’s Air Force Base in New York and began hammering on a military refuelling plane for B52 bombers. He then proceeded to the engine of a nearby B52 bomber armed with cruise missiles and caused enough damage to the engines to disable it.
Before being arrested the small group began breaking up the runway.
At his hearing Mr O’Reilly told the court he had been acting to prevent war in the Persian Gulf and called upon people to non-violently resist war and oppression.
Mr O’Reilly faced a maximum jail sentence of 15 years but was ultimately sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and fined $1,800.
After his release Mr O’Reilly was deported to Australia where he broke into a uranium mine in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. Having disabled uranium mine equipment he spent the following five months in prison
His latest scrape with the law occurred in Scotland when he was arrested for his role in a blockade of the naval base at Faslane in February 2001. On that occasion he was fined £150.
The other four Catholic Workers involved in this week’s Shannon action include Karen Fallon, a member of the Faslane peace camp for two years; Deirdre Clancy, a writer and feminist activist; Damien Moran a trainee priest and Nuin Dunlop, a community worker.
As a group, Catholic Workers live a simple lifestyle in community, serve the poor, and resist war and social injustice. Most are grounded in the teachings of the Gospel, prayer, and the Catholic faith.
Three months ago three, Dominican nuns with links to the Catholic Worker movement sliced through the security fence of a nuclear missile launch site in Colorado.
Dominican nuns Carol Gilbert, 55, Jackie Hudson, 68, and Ardeth Platte, 66, poured their own blood on the missile silo lid, as part of what they called a “symbolic disarmament”.
The three nuns had already been arrested two years previously after they attacked a Marine fighter jet with a hammer and threw a bottle of their own blood on the aircraft’s landing gear at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
For their latest action the three nuns are facing up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.