Mick Wallace and Clare Daly in court over Shannon airport incursion

Judge says he does not wish for his court to take on the role of the ‘Skibbereen Eagle’

A District Court judge has said he does not want his court to take on the role of the ‘Skibbereen Eagle’ while it hears a case involving two TDs.

Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment at Ennis District Court where Independent deputies Mick Wallace (59) and Clare Daly (46) are appearing concerning their alleged illegal entrance into a restricted area of Shannon airport on July 22nd last.

Gareth Noble, for Mr Wallace and Ms Daly, said the two were at Shannon after the Government had failed to follow their requests to search military planes at Shannon.

The now defunct Skibbereen Eagle is best known for a 1898 editorial where it warned that it would keep its eye on the Emperor of Russia.


Judge Durcan told Mr Noble that he didn’t want his court to embark on a trawl or trail of issues that are totally irrelevant to the case.

In his expert evidence on behalf of the two, security analyst Tom Clonan said that 2.25 million US troops had passed through Shannon since 2002, making it the largest invading force to have ever passed through Ireland.

Dr Clonan said Shannon is a virtual forward airbase of the US military and is an essential fulcrum in its logistics operations. He agreed with Mr Noble that if the shoe was on the other foot, Shannon would be a target for the US.

CCTV footage had earlier been shown to the court of the two TDs standing on a grass verge located inside the airfield and also in conversation with airport police.

Airport Police Officer Declan Vaughan told the court that when he came across Mr Wallace and Ms Daly inside the perimeter fence on July 22nd last, Mr Wallace requested the assistance of the Irish army to inspect a US military plane. Two such planes were parked on the runway nearby.

Mr Wallace told the court that the reason they entered the airport airfield was to search the military planes, because they were not being searched by the Irish authorities.

Sgt Donal O’Rourke told the court that on meeting with the two, he was told by Deputy Wallace that they “entered the airport in order to make a political statement regarding the use of Shannon airport for military purposes and to bring it to the attention of the Minister because the minister is not listening”.

Sgt O’Rourke said Ms Daly sustained a cut to her lip and her two fingers when coming over the airport perimeter fence. He said she declined any medical assistance offered.

Mr Vaughan told the court that all US military aircraft at Shannon airport receive the protection of the Irish army.

The case continues.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times