Margaretta D’Arcy protests in court over spelling of name

Anti-war activist says court documents incorrectly spell her Norman surname without an apostrophe

Margaretta D’Arcy arriving at Ennis Court yesterday. The activist said “what the State is doing is actually giving me a name and identity that is not mine”. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Margaretta D’Arcy arriving at Ennis Court yesterday. The activist said “what the State is doing is actually giving me a name and identity that is not mine”. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 01:00


Jailed anti-war activist Margaretta D’Arcy (79) yesterday clashed with a judge over the State omitting the apostrophe in her surname in all documents before the court. She was called Darcy.

D’Arcy was yesterday making her second public appearance since her imprisonment last month arising from her refusal to sign a bond requiring her to uphold the law and keep away from unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

The Aosdána member’s jailing has attracted extensive attention, including the private prison visit by President Michael D Higgins’s wife Sabina last month, and the issue has been raised several times in the Dáil.

The Galway woman yesterday travelled from Limerick Prison to appear at Ennis District Court, where much of the proceedings were taken up with D’Arcy’s protests over the missing apostrophe.

D’Arcy told Judge Patrick Durcan: “My name is D’Arcy with an apostrophe which is a Norman name and my name appears on the summons as Darcy, which is completely different.”

Judge Durcan said: “Legally, the spelling of the name is irrelevant and what is relevant is that you are here in answer to an accusation made by the State, that is what is relevant.”


‘Not my name’
In reply, D’Arcy said: “So it is not relevant that the State has summonsed me in a name that is not my name?”

Judge Durcan responded: “You are here to answer to a complaint made by the State and that is what is relevant.”

In response, D’Arcy said: “I’m still perplexed as names are important and what the State is doing is actually giving me a name and identity that is not mine.”

In reply, Judge Durcan said: “What I am concerned with is that you are present – the rules of the District Court give a very wide jurisdiction to a District Court judge and if you are saying that there is an apostrophe after the ‘D’, I now make an order inserting it in all court documents.”

He said: “I now make that order and thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

The grandmother of six said that the missing apostrophe “is part of a wider picture – the significance of not actually using my name”.


‘Mentally alert’
D’Arcy’s son, Finn Arden watched the proceedings and, speaking afterwards, said that his mother “is looking okay. She has ongoing medical problems but she is mentally alert, sharp and focused”.

Her co-accused, Niall Farrell, said after court that D’Arcy’s “form seems okay. She is in jail a month, she is 79 and she is ill”.

Mr Farrell said that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams visited D’Arcy in prison on Wednesday.

Dressed in a Guantánamo Bay-style orange jump suit, Mr Farrell said that D’Arcy’s imprisonment has raised awareness of the US military use of Shannon.


Alleged incursion
D’Arcy and Mr Farrell (60) of Ballynacloghy, Maree, Oranmore, Co Galway, are before the court in relation to an alleged incursion at Shannon Airport on September 2012.

Judge Durcan yesterday remanded the two on bail to reappear before Ennis District Court on March 11th, where preliminary issues before the trial are to be dealt with.