herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly face jail over refusal to pay €4,000 fines

COURTS

TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly
TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly

Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly face the prospect of going to jail after both yesterday declared that they will not pay €4,000 in fines imposed on them by a judge.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan found the pair guilty of breaching airport regulations when entering a restricted area at Shannon airport last July and fined them each €2,000.

The judge has given them three months to pay and threatened 30 days in prison if they do not.

However, speaking on the steps of the courthouse after the case, Mr Wallace told reporters and supporters: "I wouldn't pay that fine to save my life."

Dublin North TD Ms Daly agreed.

"We have no intention of paying a financial contribution to a state which allows this behaviour to continue (at Shannon)," she said.

Ms Daly also confirmed that no appeal will be lodged against the conviction.

"We don't feel that we did anything wrong and we won't engage any further," she said.

She added that the court "is not an arena where the argument can be made any further so no, we won't be appealing".

The rope ladder used by the pair to scale the fence is still in the possession of the gardai.

During the two-day hearing, Mr Wallace asked for its return. Asked yesterday if he had been given it back, he said: "I'm working on it."

battlefield

Convicting the two earlier, Judge Durcan said: "It is not proper that this court is used as a battlefield by protagonists who should pursue issues raised in another forum."

He said that the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble and a right to protest, but the exercise of that right is not unfettered.

The airport bye-laws of 1994 are a proportionate response by the State, the judge said, adding that he was satisfied that the deputies had breached the regulations.

Mr Wallace spoke from the body of the court when asked by Judge Durcan to comment on his own circumstances in relation to the penalty.

"If you think for thinking the truth and standing up for what we believe in - if you think we should be put in jail for that, I disagree," Mr Wallace said.

Speaking outside court, and joined by supporters including Dr Ed Horgan and Margaretta D'Arcy, Mr Wallace said he was "disappointed" with the outcome.

"We made very strong arguments that we didn't go in to Shannon airport to break the peace, we went in there to make the peace," he said.

Ms Daly said Judge Durcan accepted without qualification the knowledge and expertise of witnesses that they furnished to the court.

"Those witnesses said categorically that weapons and ammunition were on board US aircraft in clear breach of the conditions that were outlined," she said.

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