Acquitted peace activist lends support to Aussies facing trial

Controversial Catholic peace activist, Ciaron O'Reilly, has returned to Australia following his recent acquittal on a charge of criminal damage to a US Navy warplane in Ireland to support four Australian anti-war activists facing trial next week in the Northern Territory.

Mr O'Reilly, originally from Brisbane, said he is in Australia to support the four Christian activists who will face trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court following their "Citizen's Inspection" of the US spy base at Pine Gap, Alice Springs, in December last year.

The four were charged under the new Defence Special Undertakings Act with entering a prohibited area and taking photos.

One of the defendants, Donna Mulhearn, a well-known Catholic pacifist from Maitland, is a former "human shield" who was abducted and briefly held by militants in the Iraqi flashpoint city of Fallujah last year.

She said the group was conducting a citizens' inspection in protest at the facility's involvement in the ongoing war in Iraq when they were arrested.

According to Ms Mulhearn, her voluntary defence team headed by the retired Federal Court judge Ron Merkel will move on 3 October to have the charges dismissed.

"We will be saying: No case to answer," she said this week in an email bulletin.

Outside the court next week, Mr O'Reilly will be part of a planned "peace convergence".

"I will be speaking out against continued Australian involvement, deployment of troops and the use of Pine Gap base for targeting US bombing raids in Iraq," O'Reilly told the Westender.

O'Reilly together with four other activists, known in Ireland as the "Pit Stop Ploughshares", were acquitted following a trial for $US2.5 million criminal damage to the US Navy plane at the civilian Shannon Airport in Ireland which has become the major hub for US troop deployment to the war in Iraq.

All five defendants were unanimously acquitted by a jury at their third trial in Dublin in July this year. The defendants had faced a maximum of ten years imprisonment if they had been found guilty.

O'Reilly is a long time activist. He was first arrested while still at high school under Bjelke Petersen in a banned street march in 1977.

He joined the pacifist Catholic Worker movement and founded a house for homeless aboriginal youth in West End, Brisbane in 1982.

Ciaron O'Reilly returns to Australia to support local peace activists (Westender, 29/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Peace on Trial
Catholic Worker
Pine Gap 6

Irish jury acquits O'Reilly (CathNews, 26/7/06)
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)


29 Sep 2006