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Shannon Demo - The Black Shamrock takes root.
anti-war / imperialism |
Sunday March 19, 2006 18:45 by Niall Harnett - Na Cosantóirí Síochána
Sat 18 March 2006 - A few hours of engaging and enjoyable protest despite initial aggression by Gardaí in their failed attempts to uproot.
Members of FEIC - Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign, PANA, Amnesty Galway Volunteers, Gluaiseacht and Na Cosantóirí Síochána, the Peace Network joined forces at Shannon, to push once more for the vindication and protection of our constitutional rights to voice our dissent at the ongoing Government facilitation of crimes against humanity at Shannon Airport. Despite anticipated harassment by Gardaí and Airport Police who cooperated in an aggressive assault to grab and steal our banners, we stood our ground, kept hold of our property and insisted on our rights to stay put. For the next few hours we spoke to many interested local and international journeymakers and visitors who were happy to take and wear the 'black shamrock' badges in solidarity with us, the Iraqi people, the tortured and the dead.
Bearing in mind the recent ‘fly in protest’ visit of the Peace And Neutrality Alliance of Independant TD's and Senators to Shannon and their announcement of future plans for similar actions, and considering the recent instructions from the DPP directing Shannon Gardaí to withdraw all charges against Cosantóirí Síochána activists arrested for a banner protest on the restaurant balcony at Shannon in September 2005, we invite PANA and all other peace activists to join us at Shannon in further asserting and demanding the defence and protection of our rights to peaceful assembly and protest under Article 40 of Bunreacht na hEireann, the Irish Constitution.
Jim, the FEICer, chattin' up one of the local honeys.
On the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, ‘the anniversary of shame’, with similar demos and marches going on nationally and internationally, about 20 peace activists met at Shannon Airport welcoming our FEIC visitors from Derry who returned to Shannon as part of their Black Shamrock Campaign, http://www.blackshamrock.org . This fresh and simple idea was born in the lead up to St Patrick's Day as a way for citizens to wear a 'shamrock of integrity opposing Irish involvement in war, be it economic, logistic or strategic'.
St Patrick's Day is over but The Black Shamrock initiative is just starting to bloom. Be a part of it, wear a badge & get the t-shirt. Make your own and get artistic with it. Noise Hacker and friends, take note!
The first indications of a protest were the appearance of hundreds of daffodils that were distributed inside the terminal building by retired Irish Army Commandant Edward Horgan as a token of remembrance for the over 100,000 Iraqi dead. This polite form of protest was greeted with respect and understanding by most employees at the airport, except some Gardai and some security staff, and by active expressions of solidarity by very many members of the general public, including many foreigners and US citizens.
While the main group were preparing banners for demonstration at the terminal building entrance, Ed appeared outside, hounded and harassed by Airport Police Inspector John Martin and Garda No CL177, Brian Lenihan, who were attempting to steal a banner he was holding, causing injury to his hand, (you know that sneaky move they use, yanking back your thumb, very painful and damaging). More Gardaí arrived quickly on the scene, at this stage surrounding and intimidating all protestors, in attempts to take by force more banners from us. The Gardaí were challenged on this unacceptable behaviour and in fairness to them they backed off considering our assertions of our rights to stand our ground.
A small number of us walked back into the Departures Hall of the terminal building, with banners, to address a crowd of about 200 travellers who were checking in for travel. We took a few minutes to inform this receptive audience of all the issues around the abuse of Shannon before we were accosted by a number of Gardaí. We informed the crowd that such harassment was normal for protestors such as ourselves, before being told to leave by the Gardai for ‘using insulting and offensive language’. Sorry, come again, wha?! We announced this ridiculous and false allegation to the large crowd who were witness to this lie at which stage the Gardaí, who could find no legal expression for their nonsense, resorted to the customary neanderthal strong armed bully tactics of physically dragging us away from the area, without excuse and witnessed by hundreds of people. Another sneaky move employed here by a female Garda who dug her nails into the one of the girl's hands in trying to steal a banner.
Once outside again and back in the full company of protestors at the Arrivals entrance we continued our demonstration. We displayed large and small banners and addressed our concerns to all who entered and left the building.
FEIC had brought many Black Shamrock badges and t-shirts and were giving them to people and explaining their significance. The badges went down really well, people liked them and wore them and asked more about why we were here and what was happening at Shannon. There were some lovely conversations with many interested people who expressed their support and helped create an atmosphere of fun and constructive dialogue. Even the Gardaí, maintaining their presence, allowed their flat expressions to soften into the occasional smile. Unfortunately though, for three American girls travelling to Italy, who stopped for photos and took a few badges, things took quite a nasty turn when they were immediately stopped by Airport Police and had their luggage searched just a few yards away from us, once they had entered the building on the other side of the door. We encouraged the girls to give an account of this very distasteful experience on American and/or Italian Indymedia.
All in all, as the afternoon progressed, the mixture of good humour among new friends and positive chats with visitors to Shannon far exceeded any negativity imposed on us earlier on. Towards the end of the demo, local resident Conor Cregan gave a nice speech about the significance of the precedent being set today in regard to peaceful assembly of citizens at Shannon, not allowed in these circumstances since 2003, and to invite all citizens to similarly assert our rights of assembly ‘whenever we choose’.
Also, unlike previous occasions, no attempts were made to steal cameras or stop video-recording. There were a number of cameras and many photos were taken, so I encourage the others to use the ‘add your comments’ link to give more account of your experiences and to post your pics. Readers, keep an eye on this report for more pics coming in from others over the next few days, when people get a chance to get back to their computers after the bank holiday weekend etc.
At this point I think it’s important to point out that even though the Gardaí and Airport Police are seeing the sense in allowing a peaceful demo such as this to continue at the terminal, we have had complaints from a number of the group, against two Gardaí, namely Garda Seán Ó Murchú (CL177) and Garda Brian Lenihan (CL297) who seem to have relished any opportunity to show aggression to many of us involved in this demo. Take note lads … your behaviour did not go un-noticed and has been documented.
Ed on the receiving end of some sneaky moves from APO John Martin & GDA Brian Lenihan
Conor is not gonna take it from this bully, Garda Seán Ó Murchú
Caitríona's keeping her eye on this little one, she likes to use her nails.
The people who matter ... those who care.