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Aosdana calls for release of jailed peace activist


 Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy

STATE-funded Aosdana has called for the immediate release on compassionate grounds of jailed campaigner Margaretta D'Arcy following her jail visit by the President's wife.

Aosdana, which receives some €2.5m a year in taxpayer-funded grants, said that the 79-year-old shouldn't be in prison.

Six of the 10-strong Toscaireacht, or managing committee of Aosdana, voted in favour of the motion at a meeting yesterday; while four remaining members approved the measure in absentia.

D'Arcy, who has been a member of Aosdana since its inauguration, is serving a three-month sentence in Limerick Prison.

This follows an illegal incursion at Shannon Airport in October 2012, in protest at foreign military use of the facility.

Her plight has become increasingly controversial following a visit by her old friend Sabina Higgins at the weekend.

The Shannonwatch group, which has been campaigning at the airport, claim the visit has boosted their cause.

Yesterday, Aosdana issued a statement, saying: "The Toscaireacht appeals to the Irish Prison Service to effect her release on compassionate grounds. There should be ways to deal with these issues other than with imprisonment."

Toscaireacht chairman Brian Maguire said that the artistic community was deeply worried about the health and welfare of D'Arcy.

And he backed the controversial prison visit to the jailed peace activist by Mrs Higgins, adding: "She visited an old friend who is ill in prison. We are a people who stick by our friends when they are in trouble. We do not turn away."

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