THE ARREST and brief detention of Wexford TD Mick Wallace at Limerick Prison this Wednesday has been described as “wrong, stupid and heavy-handed” by Senator James Heffernan.
Mr Wallace was arrested over the non-payment of a fine in respect of a protest at Shannon Airport last year.
Mr Wallace and United Left TD Clare Daly had been fined €2,000 each for entering a restricted area at Shannon Airport on July 22, 2014.
It is understood Mr Wallace was arrested by appointment in Dublin on Wednesday morning before being taken to Limerick.
The Wexford TD arrived at Limerick Prison shortly before 2pm. The 60-year-old was beginning a 30-day jail term in lieu of the fine. He was later released after about two hours in detention, at around 4.30pm.
Media and members of the public had gathered outside the prison, awaiting his arrival. He arrived in an unmarked garda car.
The window of the car was rolled down when he arrived, and when asked by reporters how he felt Mr Wallace replied: “It’s a lot worse for people in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq”.
When asked if he was being treated OK, he replied: “Yes”.
Limerick’s Senator James Heffernan has called for Mr Wallace’s immediate release.
“I think it is wrong, stupid and heavy-handed to do this to someone who is taking a principled stance. Regardless of what you think of Mick Wallace, I have to agree with him 100 per cent on this occasion,” said the Kilfinane native who is running in the general election as a candidate for the Social Democrats.
“But what it does is, it puts the spotlight now on the whole issue of neutrality and on the issue of the use of Shannon Airport and we need to now start the wind down of the use of that airport by foreign military because the economic arguments that are made about it, they just don’t stack up.”
Senator Heffernan raised the issue of Ireland’s neutrality during the People’s Debate hosted by Vincent Browne in the Limerick’s Strand Hotel which is to air on TV3 this Wednesday night and was recorded on Monday.
The former primary school teacher feels that Shannon Airport “definitely could be a target” for terrorists if Ireland doesn’t protect its neutrality.
“We need to be very clear that we don’t want to get involved in fanning the flames of Islamic extremism,” he told the Leader.
“This is moral issue for Ireland on where Ireland stands internationally and we need to put our neutrality to the top of our foreign policy agenda.”
“You are dealing with radicalised, fundamental, religious nutcases - nothing is beyond them. These people don’t care,” he said.
“Let’s face it, when bombs fall from the sky they are pretty indiscriminate in relation to who they kill. For us to be seen to be complicit in war and in murder and in mayhem it suits ISIS and the radical Jihadists of this world and therefore I think we should protect ourselves but also be an example to others.
“We have an opportunity now to scale this out and put an end to his before it escalates and before we are more complicit,” he said.