Trial of Shannon protesters nearing end

All evidence has now been heard in the trial of five anti-war protesters accused of criminally damaging a US airplane at Shannon Airport.

All evidence has now been heard in the trial of five anti-war protesters accused of criminally damaging a US airplane at Shannon Airport.

Closing speeches are expected to be heard following legal argument in the absence of the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The final witness for the defence, antiwar activist Ms Kathy Kelly, told the jury that she had met the five accused at the St Brigid's Festival in Kildare prior to their action at Shannon. She told them of her personal experience in Iraq and of the consequences of economic sanctions in that country.

Under cross examination she told Mr Conor Devally SC, prosecuting: "had the US public understood fully the impact of economic sanctions in Iraq I don’t think they would have stood for it".

The five accused have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the US government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.

They are Ciaran O’Reilly (aged 46), an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop (aged 34), a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran (aged 26), Karen Fallon (aged 35), a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy (aged 36), a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.

The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45am when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.

Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardaí arrived to arrest them.

Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.

The hearing continues in legal argument before Judge Miriam Reynolds.

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