Mary Kelly's Statement
My name is Mary Kelly and I am
a 51 year old nurse and a mother of 4 children. I am facing
a retrial in the coming weeks with a possible 10 year prison
sentence if convicted, for disarming a US Navy war plane
refueling in Shannon International Airport, in Co Clare, on
the west coast of Ireland. That plane was parked illegally
in a civilian airport in a neutral country on its way to
Iraq bringing armaments to the most blatant war of
aggression and savagery in decades. I took that action fully
aware of the consequences in order to force the Irish
Government's illegal complicity with the genocide of the
Iraqi people into the public consciousness.
Blowing up innocent children, their brothers and
sisters, parents and grandchildren in this so called war on
terror, or in any war is an obscenity.
Dropping napalm,cluster bombs, DU tipped
warheads,patriot missiles on innocent people is insane and
beyond belief. All these weapons have pased through Shannon.
The sanitization of al these facts by the media is
On Jan 29th 2003 at 4.00am I
took an axe and smashed the nosecone and then the fuel lines
of that warplane and temporarily decommisioned it. I did so
because I, unlike the Irish Government, respect the rule of
law and especially the rule of international law.
Furthermore my action was taken not just to defend the rule
of international law as a matter of 'choice' but because the
Nuremberg principles on which international law is founded
'obliges me' to do just that :
Individuals have international duties which transcend the
national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individuals]
have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes
against peace and humanity from occurring.?The Nuremberg
How did I, an ordinary woman,
come to be in this situation? I was alerted to the key role
of Ireland in the lawless US /UK military operation when
some dedicated activists - skilled plane spotters alerted
the Irish people by documenting massive increases in US
military air traffic through the airport, many camoflaged as
ordinary non-military planes. That monitoring took place
mainly in the middle of the night, in miserable winter
conditions and under constant state harrassment. Largely due
to that work, Scott Ritter was later to describe Shannon
Airport as part of the US military conveyor-belt of death.
Some committed activists set up
a peace camp to facilitate the monitoring of the use of
Shannon as a US military air base and to create a focus for
the opposition to it. We exhausted the usual forms of
protest -lobbying, letters, marches etc -and were faced with
a government that refused even to acknowledge that there was
any departure from Ireland's traditional neutral status. Yet
the accelerating US military build-up to another war on Iraq
made the conclusion inescapable that Ireland's role this
time was CENTRAL to US military operations.
Shannon is the 'welcome mat'
for US troops en route to Iraq, and the entry point to the
ME. This 'welcome mat' was NOT put there by the Irish
citizens, but by a Government that continues to ignore the
will of its people.
The peace camp endured for one
month in freezing winter conditions, with just tents and one
caravan. It got phenomenal support, and brought to the Irish
public a crystal clear focus on what was transiting through
our civilian airport. Namely; armed foreign troops, DU,
Napalm, Daisy cutter bombs, class A explosives, and possibly
prisoners en route to Guantanamo Bay during the invasion of
Afghanistan. This is only a fraction of what is still going
thru there, that we know of, every day and night.
Faced with the mounting evidence of US and UK determination
to attack Iraq in spite of worldwide opposition I felt
obliged to take direct action.
One immediate result of my
action and a similar action a few days later by 5 Catholic
Workers, was the pull out of 2 military carriers from using
the airport. This temporary withdrawal although a success
was not a triumph.
Numerous US air carriers continued to use Shannon for
refuelling facilities, and hence the Irish Government
continued to fuel the war. This refuelling continues today,
and I am here to call for an International campaign to
support those of us in Ireland who are engaged in this
Our actions achieved three things :
1) The use of Shannon airport by the US military inescapably
captured the media headlines and alerted Irish people to the
realities and seriousness of Irelands incorporation into
the build up to an illegal war
2) It struck a serious blow to the confidence of the US
military security at the airport
3) It inspired Irish anti-war activists. The biggest
demonstration ever against US military aggression happened
two weeks later in Dublin, our capital city, where over
150,000 people marched, while other marches happened
throughout the country.
By the time of my trial in
June, however, the anti-war feeling of Feb 15th was shown to
be mere sentiment in the face of persistent scare-mongering
about US disinvestment from Ireland and consequent economic
Inspite of this huge opposition on Feb 15, only a small
number of people stood in my support outside the courthouse
in June. Yet my trial featured such international figures as
Ramsey Clarke, Scott Ritter, Dennis Halliday and Michael
Birmingham. I faced a virtual media blackout and practical
desertion by the popular movement, including the Left.
Fortunately, the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera were there to
document the whole trial.
My experience has taught me
that one of the biggest weapons of Imperialism facing us in
Ireland is its ability to anaesthetise the public's
conscience and there is no doubt that the last 10 years of
Irelands economic boom ?popularly known as the Celtic Tiger
?has done just that. The Celtic Tiger, almost entirely a US
dollar creation, has coincided closely with the collapse of
the Soviet Union and the creation Project for the New
American Century. Shannon airport, the closest European
international airport to the USA, is being privatised. It is
now clear that Shannon airport is to be used as a US
military airbase as part of the US conquest of the Middle
East, Eastern Europe and ultimately Western Europe. The
Celtic Tiger was the price of the conscience of Ireland.
Criminalising the movement.
The Irish State is now using
the legal system to criminalize people who stand up and be
counted, people in the anti war movement resisting and
challenging the US takeover of the Irish court system, where
so far International law is not recognized. The peace camp
was bullied out of existence by High court orders issued by
the so called Guardians of peace, An Garda Siochana. Plane
spotters have had their monitoring equipment confiscated,
activists are routinely harassed, and tied up in endless
court hearings presided over by a judge thoroughly in favour
of the US agenda in Shannon.
Over 30 protestors are now banned from Co Clare, which
is fast becoming a second home for US troops, where soldiers
in full military uniform on stopovers from missions to Iraq,
can be seen shopping in towns near to Shannon. The media
obligingly puts a spin on anti war movement news, in
deference to what the US masters require.
Ireland holds the EU presidency
for the next 6 months.
Curiously, Ireland is a member of PFP, Partnership for
Peace, indicating a country that has no intention of joining
NATO. Amoung the duties of our Taoiseach ( PM ) Bertie
Ahern, he will be tasked involvement in the EU common
defence policy. So a supposedly neural country will be
leading the EU into a non neutral pact!?!
He has allowed over 125,000 troops pass through Shannon
since the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Ireland is NOT neutral. Whatever its aspirations the EU is
well on the road to being a support system for the new
Empire. Ireland should NEVER be a part of any Empire!
Our job as activists is to
reignite the public conscience that has been dulled.
Our job is to safeguard and preserve what is best in
humanity, what was aspired to in all the old texts, and in
the modern attempts like the UN charter.
Our job is to safeguard International Law.
Amnesty Internationals reports
states that the US has harboured, trained and supported the
worst state terrorists in latin America, Asia, and Africa.
They have been responsible for the death of millions;yet
terrorism is never mentioned in connection with the US
The UK Government refused to co-operate with investigations
into the murder of many innocent Irish people,including 2 of
our greatest human rights lawyers, Pat Finucane, and
Rosemary Nelson. For 30 years it has blocked the
investigation into the biggest hidden massacre of the
troubles, the Dublin Monaghan bombings of 1974.
Where there is a question of State collusion there is NO
clarity, and NO JUSTICE.
The biggest threat in the world are our Governments who are
not recognizing their own laws nor International laws and
treaties. The media shamelessly aids them describing an
illegal unprovoked brutal invasion with the highest
technology available, as an operation of enduring freedom.
Like Bobby Sands who sacrificed
his young life in the struggle for Irish freedom said in his
moving poem, "The Rhythm of Time, "the spirt that says I'M
was buried at wounded Knee... but it will rise again; it has
withstood the blows of million years.. and will do so to the
end." Similarly like the spirit of the Palestinian people,
who refuse to be crushed in the face of a most brutal
illegal occupation by Israel, backed by the US, we must draw
on the example of such courageous people who never give up.
Irish men and women have fought
long and hard for freedom from tyranny, with many sacrifices
on the road to that cherished goal. Irish women have shown
extraordinary courage,and been the backbone of resistence to
the British Empire.
Women like Anne Devlin, who faithfully supported Robert
Emmet 200 years ago in a uprising against British
occupation. Women who out of love of freedom, worked, and
helped organize the support for the struggle for
My fight in a nutshell is about having International law
recognized and upheld in the Irish courts. When we say we
are neutral, I want it to be REAL. I want myself and others
facing trial to win our court cases and be ONE country where
the US has to respect our laws and leave, and therby inspire
other countries also to kick out these terrorists
masquerading as peacemakers.
Lets keep our laws and insist they are used.
The most remarkable phenomenon
of the last 12 months is the isolation of activists like
myself who are forced to rely on the goodwill of some
excellent individuals but who are in the end struggling in
very weakened circumstances to construct legal cases to
reclaim the right to be judged by the principles of
International Law. I call upon this movement at the World
Court,and World Social Forum, Mumbai India, to organise
International Lawyers to support activists facing criminal
charges by :
1. Coming forward to support them
instead of waiting to be asked
2. Coordinating national and international campaigns around
the defense of the activists, and making this Holocaust
Remembrance Day, April 18th a day of actions related to
defending the Nuremberg Judgement and International Law.
3. Launching a concerted international campaign to reinstate
international law --the UN Charter and the principles which
inspired it --and bring the US and UK, Bush and Blair,
before the International Criminal Court in the Hague to
answer for their crimes.
4.Protesting outside Irish Embassies and Consuls during the
trials of Shannon peace activists.
5.I call on activists worldwide to come and join with us in
protest at Shannon, June 2004, when George Bush will be
Finally I invite the World
Court Tribunal on Afghanistan and Iraq to come and hold one
of their court sessions in Ireland.
Thank you to the Asian Womens
group who organised this World Court, and to Denis Halliday
for making my case known to them.
In our quest for justice, we
must keep alive our hope and courage, speak out, support
each other and never give up!