Catholic peace activist faces 10 years jail in Ireland

Controversial Catholic peace activist, Ciaron O'Reilly, is on trial this week for helping disable a US warplane en route to Iraq at a civilian hangar in Ireland in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mr O'Reilly, long-time member of the non-violent activist groups Catholic Worker and the Pitstop Ploughshares, is charged with causing criminal damage without a lawful excuse, after he and four other peace activists allegedly disabled the plane early in February 2003 at Ireland's Shannon Airport.

Mr O'Reilly - along with Irish nationals Deirdre Clancy and Damien Moran, Scottish woman Karen Fallon and American Nuin Dunlop - is appearing in Dublin's Four Courts on Wednesday for day one of their trial.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charge and if convicted face a maximum of 10 years jail.

The group are members of the Catholic Worker movement co-founded by the US activist Dorothy Day and follow the biblical mandate in Isaiah to "beat swords into ploughshares" - or in simpler terms to dismantle military and nuclear arms equipment.

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

The group does not deny they were responsible for the dismantling but claim they needed to damage the plane to prevent further damage being done in the Iraq war.

O'Reilly's Brisbane-based brother, Sean O'Reilly, is hosting a peace walk from St Mary's Church in South Brisbane to the city law courts every day of the trial, in honour of his brother.

"It was a very purposeful act intended to prevent the plane from going to war," he said. "The group has a lot of people supporting their actions."

Mr O'Reilly, 46, was born and raised in Brisbane but now lives in Ireland, where he works for a homeless people's shelter.

He has previously served 13 months in a US prison for disabling a B-52 bomber in the US during the 1991 Gulf war. Mr O'Reilly was in Australia earlier this year to visit family and give talks around the country.

His trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Aussie peace activist facing jail (Sydney Morning Herald 5/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Peace on trial
Enough Rope with Andrew Denton Episode 108 Ciaron O'Reilly

Catholic peacemaker receives ASIO treatment (CathNews 8/2/06)
Actor Martin Sheen supports Australian Catholic peace activist (CathNews 27/5/03)
Catholic activist challenges peace movement (CathNews 2/5/06)

6 Jul 2006