Activist Margaretta D’Arcy (79) is to be released from prison on March 22nd, where she has been serving a sentence for refusing to sign a bond to uphold the law and keep away from unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.
Ms D'Arcy's son, Finn Arden, confirmed yesterday his mother had been given her release date. The Aosdána member will have served 9½ weeks of a 12-week sentence, he noted.
The Galway Alliance Against War group expressed “delight” at her impending freedom.
“However, we have to admit that we are not shocked by the actions of the Government in imprisoning a seriously ill, elderly peace activist,” spokesman Niall Farrell said.
“We are not shocked because we have witnessed for more than 12 years how consecutive Irish governments have allowed millions of US troops, million of tons of US weaponry to travel freely to war via Shannon Airport,” he said.
Ms D'Arcy, who has been undergoing cancer treatment, was arrested in Galway on January 15th and taken to Limerick prison to serve a three-month sentence for illegal incursion on to the runway at Shannon Airport on October 7th, 2012. The sentence had been suspended last December, but was activated when she refused to sign the bond.
She was transferred to Dóchas women’s prison at Mountjoy in Dublin last month.
Married to the late playwright John Arden, Ms D'Arcy has been an activist since joining the anti-nuclear Committee of 100 led by philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1961.
She was a member of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, and spent time in Northern Ireland’s H-block in the early 1980s.
Ms D’Arcy and her co-accused, Niall Farrell, were before Ennis District Court yesterday where a trial date of June 24th was set in relation to a separate incursion on the runway at Shannon on September 1st, 2013.
At the pre-trial hearing, she failed in her opposition to an application by the State to amend the wording of the charge against her in relation to an alleged illegal incursion at Shannon Airport.
She told Judge Patrick Durcan: "By seeking to make the change, it makes the original case against me irrelevant."
Judge Durcan replied: “I note your objection, but I must let you know I have very wide powers to amend charges and the change is merely of a technical nature and I am obliged to amend and I amend the charge.”