Saturday 16 December 2017

Peace activist clashes with judge over name

Margaretta D’Arcy arrives at Ennis District Court yesterday. Eamon Ward
Margaretta D’Arcy arrives at Ennis District Court yesterday. Eamon Ward

Gordon Deegan

ANTI-WAR activist Margaretta D'Arcy clashed with a judge over the State omitting the apostrophe in her surname in documents before the court.

The 79-year old 'Guantanamo Granny' was arrested in Galway last month and incarcerated after refusing to sign a bond to uphold the law and keep away from unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

The jailed peace activist appeared at Ennis District Court yesterday where most of the proceedings were taken up with Ms D'Arcy's protests over the missing apostrophe.

"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," Ms D'Arcy told Judge Patrick Durcan.

In response, the judge 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 it what is relevant."

"So it is not relevant that the State has summonsed me in a name that is not my name?" Ms D'Arcy asked.

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

But Ms 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."

Judge Durcan responded: "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."


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

Speaking after the court sitting, Ms D'Arcy's son, Finn Arden, said that his mother is looking "okay" but has ongoing medical problems.

Her co-accused, Niall Farrell added: "Her form seems okay. She is in jail a month, she is 79 and she is ill."

Mr Farrell said that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams visited Ms D'Arcy in jail on Wednesday.

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

Judge Durcan remanded the pair to reappear before Ennis District Court on March 11 where preliminary issues before the trial are to be dealt with.

Ms D'Arcy was returned to Limerick Prison, where she has been held since January 15. A vigil to mark her first month in jail is planned for Dublin's O'Connell Street tomorrow.

Outspoken TD Clare Daly yesterday visited the pensioner, tweeting that she appeared in "good spirits" and would continue her campaign "against US military at Shannon".

Irish Independent

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