TDs face prison over refusal to pay €2,000 fines
Published 23/04/2015 | 02:30
Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly face the prospect of going to jail after both politicians declared they will not pay €4,000 in fines imposed on them by a judge.
At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan found the two guilty of breaching airport regulations when entering a restricted area at Shannon airport on July 22 last, and fined them each €2,000.
Judge Durcan has given them three months to pay and 30 days in prison if the fines aren't paid.
However, speaking after the case on the steps of Ennis courthouse, Mr Wallace declared to reporters and supporters: "I wouldn't pay that fine to save my life."
Ms Daly also stated they had "no intention of paying a financial contribution to a State which allows this behaviour to continue (at Shannon)".
She confirmed that no appeal would 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 two to scale the fence is still in the possession of gardaí at Shannon and during the two-day hearing, Mr Wallace asked for its return.
He said yesterday that he was still "working" on getting it back.
Convicting the two in court, Judge Durcan said the role "of this court is not that assumed by the Skibbereen Eagle in a past century".
The now defunct Skibbereen Eagle is best known for an 1898 editorial, where it warned that it would keep its eye on the Emperor of Russia.
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."
Judge Durcan said that our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble and a right to protest but the exercise of that right is not unfettered.
He added that the airport by-laws of 1994 are a proportionate response by the State and he said that he was satisfied that both TDs had breached the regulations.
Asked by Judge Durcan to comment on his own circumstances, Mr Wallace said that the Irish Government had contributed towards the militarisation of the planet by facilitating the bringing of arms and munitions through Shannon and they felt an obligation to highlight it.
"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," said Mr Wallace.