Catholic activist challenges peace movement

A controversial Catholic anti-war activist due to stand trial in Ireland in July for damaging a US warplane has challenged the peace movement to take a stronger stand against the war in Iraq.

The Age reports that Ciaron O'Reilly, long-time member of the non-violent activist groups Catholic Worker and the Pitstop Ploughshares, said it was time for activists to use non-violent resistance to end Australia's involvement in the Iraq war.

He said there was currently more anti-war sentiment coming from the military than from the peace movement.

Mr O'Reilly, 45, was born and raised in Brisbane but now lives in Ireland, where he works for a homeless people's shelter. In February 2003, he was arrested with four others from the Pitstop Ploughshares after disabling a US warplane at a civilian hangar in Ireland.

The group used hammers and a garden tool to dent the aircraft, and stayed in the hangar to pray beside the plane until they were arrested.

Mr O'Reilly is due to face trail in Dublin on 5 July on charges of wilful damage, and if convicted faces up to 10 years jail.

He has previously spent time in jail in Darwin for damaging uranium mining equipment at Jabiluka in 1998 and in the US for damaging a B52 bomber in 1991.

Mr O'Reilly uses the Bible to justify his civil disobedience and destruction of military property.

"The actions in damaging the warplane were inspired by the prophecies in Isaiah to change swords into ploughshares," he said. "I would encourage Australians to non-violently resist their government's contribution to this war."

He called on Australians opposed to the war to up the ante and undertake non-violent resistance actions at the US-Australian spy base Pine Gap near Alice Springs and at next year's massive military exercise, Operation Talisman, at Rockhampton in Queensland.

"The war is getting worse, it is escalating and expanding, it is not just going to go away, people have to proactively stop it," Mr O'Reilly said.

He said that the responses to his talks at Catholic schools and peace groups in Australia have been positive.

Activist calls for Iraq war action (The Age 30/4/06)

Interreligious peace gathering in U.S. marks 20 years since Assisi (Catholic News Service 27/4/06)
John L Allen: "Prayer for Peace" (National Catholic Reporter 28/4/06)
Christian peacemakers can make a difference, Vatican Radio told (Ekklesia 21/4/06)
Priest awaits further court case over peace protest (The Guardian/Associated Press 21/4/06)
The real meaning of deterrence (The Tablet 22/4/06)

2 May 2006