Irish jury acquits O'Reilly

Australian Catholic activist Ciaron O'Reilly and four Catholic Worker colleagues were acquitted of causing criminal damage to a US navy jet that they had disabled at Shannon Airport in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Ciaron O'Reilly, 46, from Mitchelton in Brisbane's north-west, was charged with causing criminal damage without a lawful excuse, after he and the four other peace activists allegedly disabled the plane early on 3 February 2003.

Also acquitted at Dublin's Fourt Courts were Irish nationals Deirdre Clancy and Damien Moran, Scottish woman Karen Fallon and American Nuin Dunlop.

The unanimous verdict was handed down after about three hours of deliberations. The five had pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they faced a maximum of 10 years' jail.

The five are members of the pacifist Catholic Worker Movement and follow the biblical mandate in Isaiah to "beat swords into ploughshares", or in modern terms to dismantle military and nuclear arms equipment.

"The jury is the conscience of the community chosen randomly from Irish society," the group said in a statement. "The conscience of the community has spoken.

"The government has no popular mandate in providing the civilian Shannon airport to service the US war machine in it's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq."

The US government estimated the group caused $US2.5 million ($A3.36 million) in damage to the aircraft.

The group did not deny they were responsible for the dismantling, but claimed they needed to disable the plane to prevent further damage being done in the Iraq war.

Drawing on parallels with the 1996 acquittal of four women activists charged with damaging a British warplane destined for export to Indonesia during the brutal Suharto regime, the group said the ruling should send a message that Ireland wanted no part in waging war on the people of Iraq.

"Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately," the statement said.

Australian peace activist on trial in Ireland cleared (Sydney Morning Herald 26/7/06)
Not Guilty. The Pitstop Ploughshares All Acquitted on All Charges (Indymedia Ireland 25/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
War on Trial
Voices for Creative Non-violence
Catholic Worker Movement
Trident Plughshares

Catholic peace activist faces 10 years jail in Ireland (CathNews 6/7/06)
Catholic activist challenges peace movement (CathNews 2/5/06)
Catholic peacemaker receives ASIO treatment (CathNews 8/2/05)

26 Jul 2006