Five British anti-war activists were arrested today after they forced their way into the Irish Embassy in London.
The demonstrators, who chained themselves together, were protesting at the use of Shannon Airport as a stop-over point for American war planes on their way to Iraq.
Embassy officials said the five were arrested for trespass on diplomatic premises at the embassy on Grosvenor Place, south west London, near Buckingham Palace.
The five, who are aligned with the Irish anti-war movement Pit Stop Ploughshares, were campaigning for charges against a number of Irish protesters over alleged damage to a US plane to be dropped.
It was understood the protest began at 9.10am when two women and three men chained themselves to the building.
The five were named as Milan Rai, Alex George, Zelda Jeffers, Maureen Ukairo and William Dawdarn.
Jos Jarman, spokesman for the group, said Irish Ambassador Daithi O’Ceallaigh had held talks with the group in the embassy before police moved in.
Fire officers were called in to release the protesters from the chains before the Metropolitan Police made the arrests.
An embassy spokesman said the demonstration was completely peaceful and a letter of protest had been handed in.
“Some of them managed to get through one of the two security doors but they were quickly stopped,” he said.
“All they are really doing is blocking people from coming into the embassy.”
Protesters also gathered outside the embassy and a banner was displayed declaring “Pit Stop Ploughshares Not Guilty”.
Five members of the Pit Stop Ploughshares are on bail due for trial in Dublin next week accused of disarming a US warplane at Shannon in February 2003.
The damage to the plane was estimated at €1.45m and if found guilty the protesters could face 10 years behind bars.
Mr Jarman said protesters were calling on the Government to drop the charges against Karen Fallon, Deirdre Clancy, Ciaron O’Reilly, Damien Moran and Nuin Dunlop.
“The point is that the war in Iraq was illegal and the Irish Government was breaking its own constitution and its position on neutrality,” Mr Jarman said.
“In light of the fact that war was brought illegally it is just unacceptable that these peace campaigners could be facing prison whilst Bertie Ahern remains at large.”
Mr Jarman claimed that within one month of the attack on the warplane at Shannon, three of the four companies contracted to ferry US troops and weapons had left Ireland.