The 2006 trial of the Pit Stop Ploughshares was the third since the five disabled a US Navy plane in Shannon airport on 3rd February 2003.
The first trial began in March 2005. The Defence successfully argued that there was a perception of bias on the part of Judge Frank O’Donnell, and a mistrial was declared.
A second trial took place in October 2005. It collapsed when the presiding judge, Judge Donagh Mc Donagh, was linked to George W. Bush, having attended his 2001 inauguration. This, if viewed as a personal relationship with the president responsible for the invasion of Iraq, could be interpreted as impartiality and so the judge withdrew from the trial.
The third trial was scheduled to begin on 05th July 2006, but there was no judge available to hear the case.
The third trial began on 10th July 2006.
The five defendants, charged with criminal damage, were Ciaron O’Reilly, Damien Moran, Karen Fallon, Deirdre Clancy, and Nuin Dunlop.
Judge Miriam Reynolds was the presiding judge.
Mr Devally acted for the DPP.
Mr O’Kelly acted for Ciaron O’Reilly and Damien Moran.
Mr Nix acted for Karen Fallon.
Mr O’Higgins acted for Deirdre Clancy and Nuin Dunlop.
The Pitstop Ploughshares five, who had disarmed a US war-plane on its way to Iraq, went to trial twice in 2005 and the trial concluded in 2006. Much to the amazement and delight of the anti-war constituency the five were found ‘not guilty’ of all charges. The following is the text of a statement released by the defendants immediately after their acquittal: “The jury is the conscience of the community chosen randomly from Irish society. 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 its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. “In 1996 in Liverpool the Jury acquittal of the four ‘ploughshares’ women contributed to the end of arms exports to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and the independence of East Timor. “The decision of this jury should be a message to London, Washington DC and the Dail that Ireland wants no part in waging war on the people of Iraq. Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately “
Afterwards Deirdre Clancy, one of the five wrote: ‘we successfully decommissioned a logistical element of the US war machine, rendering it unusable for a significant period. Our action represented, we realized, a miniscule dent in US military might. It was an act of conscience but perhaps also defiance: of saying yes to life and no to indiscriminate killing’.
Afri attended as much as possible of the trials. We also offered some logistical support and helped in the second case by hosting and covering the accommodation costs of former US Marine Sergeant, Jimmy Massey, who gave evidence at the trial.