At Ennis District Court yesterday, airport police officer Richard Moloney said authorities had to act quickly after learning that two people were lying and sitting down on the main runway at Shannon as two aircraft were due to land on Oct 7, 2012.
Mr Moloney told Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell, both dressed in orange jump suits: “You were on the runway. There were two aircraft holding overhead while you were on the runway. It was dangerous and you were in a very dangerous position.”
In response to the incursion, authorities blocked an Aer Lingus flight from Heathrow and a Ryanair flight from Stansted from landing and put them into a holding pattern.
An author and playwright, Ms Darcy, aged 79, of St Bridget’s Place, Woodquay, Galway, said they were on the runway 20 minutes before airport authorities arrived to remove them.
She said the authorities only arrived after the peace activists phoned them to alert them that they were there.
Judge Patrick Durcan remarked: “Ms Darcy, when I listen to all that took place, it is lucky that your mobile phone was working, otherwise you may not be here today.”
Airport police officer Joe Noonan said he found Ms Darcy lying on the runway and Mr Farrell sitting down, with each holding placards reading “Stop Killer Drones via Shannon”.
Mr Farrell, aged 60, of Ballynacloghy, Maree, Oranmore, Co Galway, told the court: “We went on the runway assuming that there was proper security at the airport.”
The two deny the charge of the illegal incursion onto the airfield.
Ms Darcy called a number of witnesses in her defence including TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.
Mr Wallace said what is going on at Shannon, allowing US military planes use the airport, is unconstitutional. Ms Daly said the two were performing the role of whistleblowers by going onto the runway.
Judge Durcan reserved judgment and adjourned the matter to Wednesday at Ennis District Court to fix a date on which he will deliver his judgment.