The Criminal Courts of Justice
Two peace activists who allegedly painted crucifixes onto the runway of Shannon airport refused to accept the potential danger to inbound flights by their actions, a court has heard.
Colm Roddy, 78, of Bayside Walk, Dublin 13 and Dave Donnellan, 60, of Reuben Street, Rialto, Dublin have both pleaded not guilty, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, to causing criminal damage to the perimeter fence and the runway at Shannon Airport on May 5, 2016.
On day three of the trial Detective Sergeant Con Ryan, now retired, told the jury that he met both men in the terminal of Shannon Airport after they had been brought there by airport police who had met them on the runway.
Dt Sgt Ryan said that Mr Roddy “did most of the talking” and he was “complaining about Americans killing people in the Middle East and Syria”.
He said Mr Roddy told him that he and Mr Donnellan had gained access to the airfield by lifting the wire and getting in under a gate”. He said he wished to establish how the men had gained entry into the airport complex.
He said he tried to make the two men aware of the danger of animals entering the airfield through any breach of the perimeter fence and that this might cause a threat to incoming flights.
He said he also needed to know if the men had left any objects on the runway and the men said “they had left nothing airside”.
“I tried to get them to understand that we may have to consider diverting inbound flights,” and he told the jury that his concern was that objects or animals on the runway could affect the landing tyres or disrupt the landing in some other way.
He testified that he was concerned that there were “a couple of hundred souls on board” incoming passenger flights. He said the two men “would not accept the concerns I had raised” and “kept returning to the issue of US bombings”.
The court heard that when charged and cautioned with unlawful criminal damage at the airport Mr Roddy told gardaí: “I had lawful excuse. I was trying to prevent a much greater illegality which is ongoing at Shannon airport”.
The trial continues before Judge Karen O'Connor and a jury.