Posts Tagged ‘rendition’

On Thursday 2nd October 2008, more than two years after his ordeal began, Conor Cregan walked into Ennis District Court for the finale.

Conor Cregan and supporters

Here’s the short version of the story:

The match started. Inspector Tom Kennedy kicked off. He passed the ball towards the last minute substitute. But too late, Cregan had the ball before the substitute even got a look at it. The last minute substitute wandered off looking dazed and confused. Cregan passed the ball back to Kennedy. Kennedy next tries to give the ball to his next team-mate. Not quick enough though, Cregan intercepts, passes back to Kennedy and waits to see who’s next. Kennedy begins to see Conor’s plan and decides to pass it to a professional this time round. Too slow Tom. Cregan takes the ball; the professional is made to look like a complete amateur. Cregan taps it back to Kennedy.

Poor Inspector Kennedy sees three of his players stumbling around, trying to figure out what just hit them. I don’t know if any of this influenced his next move.

The inspector lined up his shot, kicked the football, as hard as he could, nearly busting the net. G… O… A… L!!!!!! (Own goal that is.)

“You’re in trouble aren’t you inspector?” suggested the Ref, almost paternally.

“I am,” reflected the dejected and ashamed looking inspector in such a voice that one knows the reflection derived from an informed place.

Case dismissed. Same with the second one.

On top of the victory, activists have been shown the writing on the wall. We have an admission that activists are singled out as cases for special treatment. The special treatment consists of confrontation, harassment and physical abuse. This special treatment is applied until activists give up on practicing their right to protest or in the case of others, give up their right to investigate international and national war crimes that nobody else’ll investigate.

Some people get up after you think you’ve knocked them down. Sometimes they get up, so unexpectedly and with so much force, inspectors who sometimes get flashes of their own writing on the wall, might just for once, get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

I spose it could have been a lot worse…

Yeah that’s right…

It might have gone to a place where Conor got to call some witnesses of his own after exposing the rest of Inspector Tom’s problem/team first. Things could have been a lot worse from the inspector’s point of view I spose…

Here’s the longer version of the day’s events

Conor Cregan has had two charges hanging over him for more than two years. This has gone all the way to the High Court and all the way back to Judge Mangan’s little patch, back in Ennis. On Thursday the second day of October, Conor and his McKenzie, Owen Rice, arrived in town for the final showdown in this epic battle.

The courtroom was pretty full, for a special sitting. There were a few short issues on first and they were dealt with in short order. The only lengthy issue, other than Conor’s two cases, was played out over the lunch break.

Inspector Tom called some guy, Brendan Mullin, an engineer from Shannon airport, who helped to buy land or something, he apparently expands and contracts the area of the aerodrome, defining the jurisdiction whereby the Air Transport and Navigation Act is applied. Or something…

What was interesting about this witness was not so much his evidence, but the fact that he should not have existed in the first place. Tom had added this witness to the squad without Conor Cregan’s prior knowledge. Moreover, Tom informed the court that this witnesses’ evidence was going to be used in both cases. Conor had been granted a Gary Doyle order years ago, when these two cases first started.

Conor quizzed the engineer in what seemed to be a bored manner after Mangan J. refused an application to dismiss, in spite of the fact that Conor should have been informed of the existence of the witness and his evidence, as per the Gary Doyle order, so that he might attempt to prepare a defence. Judge Mangan decided that he’d watch the farce and possibly decide at some point in the future if Conor had been prejudiced.

After softening up the first witness for a few minutes, Conor Cregan turned up the heat.

‘Do you have any legal training?’ Conor enquired, trying to ascertain if the witness had any actual legal might behind his ability to announce legal jurisdictions.

After asking the witness if he had any proof with him to prove that the party he said were owners of the property that defines the aerodrome, were the owners, and he didn’t, the Judge excused him and directed him back from whence he came, to procure some proofs of his claims.

The row of schoolchildren, who’d been brought to observe our justice system in action, seemed to come out of their state of disinterest as Inspector Tom’s first witness left the building and as the first hints of redness crept into his complexion.

Lillian O’Shea, airport police officer and airport fire brigade officer, both at the same time, takes the stand. Don’t ask me… Cutbacks or something…

Inspector Tom presses on, unaware, it would seem, that the seeds of destruction have already been sown, and encourages Officer Twoforthepriceofone to spin her tale.

Lillian tells those assembled that it’s the 23rd of July, some two years ago. It’s around midnight and Conor Cregan rides into view on a bicycle. Officer Twoforthepriceofone who’s manning the “Gantry,” near the entrance to the airport, recognises Conor from her many dealings with him in the past (and probably the odd photo or two) and decides to stop and to confront him. A brief chat later and Officer Twoforthepriceforone demands to know the details of Mr. Cregan’s lawful business at the airport. The witness tells the court that she has asserted her authority and yet, Mr. Cregan has told her that she has no authority, has gotten back on his bike and has cycled off in the direction of the terminal at the heart of the airport. Officer Twoforthepriceofone runs back to the Gantry to place a call to Inspector John “Sierra Papa” Martin, to sound the general alarm: There’s a bandit, or is it a banned person, coming his way.

The scene is set. An eyebrow Mexican wave begins on my right and circles around to my left. The kids are fully awake now. We’re not talking about maps anymore. Some dude has ignored the cops.

Inspector Kennedy handed the witness over to Conor with almost a flourish. Very arrogant of the inspector, considering it would be the signal for the onset of his humiliation. Not to mention what Officer Twoforthepriceofone was about to reveal to the court. Yeah, here’s what happens with a witness one is allowed to prepare for is examined.

Had Officer O’Shea presented her warrant card for Conor’s inspection? Like she’s supposed to, when requested to do so, as demanded by the Air Transport and Navigation act. She’d displayed her ID alright and demonstrated how she’d done so for the Judge. She seemed to offer a breast towards the Judge for his perusal. Whatever went through the Judge’s mind at this unusual juncture, he kept to himself. This vision was enhanced by the fact that the ID and warrant card, that had probably adorned the offered breast, was currently in front of the Judge. The warrant card had been tendered to the Judge when the witness was sworn in. Yup, you have to show the warrant card to the Judge when the court requires authorisation.

Anyway, after a brief lesson from Conor, who pointed out that the warrant card was at the back of the ID and that displaying the ID was not the same as displaying the warrant card, the witness seemed to have some difficulties in understanding, even Inspector Kennedy jumped into the discussion.

The kids around the courtroom were having a ball.

Finally, lesson learned, Twoforthepriceofone, when asked by Conor if she had established her authorisation by exhibiting her ID card, answered that she had.

Once Conor established that the witness hadn’t shown her warrant card, he began to question her some more, scoring points and gathering intelligence regarding the activities that take place at the airport. And poor Tom Kennedy had to sit there and watch it.

After Twoforthepriceofone learned that saying that the phrase: “stopped everyone” was not the same as saying that that “some were stopped,” Conor got her to make an interesting revelation or two:

Activists who have caused “problems” are to be stopped and harassed. They are to be stopped and harassed until they stop protesting or investigating.

A bank of photographs of activists and details about them are available to recognise those who’ve been singled out for special treatment.

Officer Twoforthepriceofone testified that her instructions to confront identified activists had arrived from various parties. One of those named was Inspector John “Sierra Papa” Martin.

Not wanting impressionable minds to be warped with reality, Judge Mangan informed the court that it was perfectly acceptable to form a list of potential ‘troublemakers’ for use at the airport. He repeated this a few times so that everybody understood. Cool.

What Judge Mangan didn’t comment on of course, was the point. I mean it’s perfectly okay for me to consider Judge Mangan to be somewhat of a potential idiot. It’s okay too for me to consider inspector Tom Kennedy to be a potential pliable muppet who is fully conscious of the swill he’s expecting the court and the public to swallow. But what if I act on these possibly unfounded beliefs? What if I end up confronting and assaulting the good Judge? That’s the point that the Judge missed. You can think what you want; it does not follow that you may break the law.

A sickly looking Inspector Kennedy, batting for the DPP, called his third witness. Garda Conor Fleming is a special garda who can simultaneously exist in many alternate realities. If anyone could turn this around for the Inspector, garda Fleming would.

Garda Fleming arrived at the airport a little after midnight and immediately began to phase shift into different dimensions, though this didn’t become apparent until Conor Cregan was offered the witness.

Conor was arrested before Fleming arrived.

Conor was not under arrest when Fleming arrived.

Conor was being detained when Fleming arrived.

Conor wasn’t being detained when Fleming arrived, Conor seemed to be enjoying the company of Sierra Papa and another officer, despite the fact that Fleming remembered Conor Cregan running up to him when he’d arrived, stating that he’d been assaulted.

Garda Fleming said that he’d investigated the complaint alleged by Conor. He said that he’d gathered the evidence and had cautioned Sierra Papa etc. He said that he’d been satisfied that Conor hadn’t been assaulted. Conor Cregan later pointed out to Fleming that had he watched the evidence that he’d collected from Conor, that he might have arrived at a different set of beliefs. Fleming hadn’t watched the video evidence that he’d taken from Conor. Inspector Kennedy got into an animated argument, mostly with himself about this video evidence. Even judge Mangan jumped in occasionally.

Fleming said to the court that he believed Conor was at the airport without lawful excuse. Apparently, in most of Fleming’s dimensions, one needs lawful excuse to enter an airport. The witness said that he had demanded under section 8 of the Public Order Act that Mr. Cregan leave the immediate vicinity.

Conor left the immediate vicinity by walking into the airport terminal building.

Once Conor had established the definition of “vicinity” with Fleming and managed to get the garda to revise a few times his estimate of how far Conor had walked into the building, before he was arrested, lunch was called.

This was the last that was seen of the schoolchildren as they filed out of the courtroom, talking animatedly.

After lunch, the intrepid garda Fleming was back in the stand and was slowly put out of his misery.

The afternoon’s interdimensional theme: Who arrested Conor?

Garda Fleming reckoned that Conor had been arrested in the airport building by Inspector Sierra Papa. Garda Fleming was very sure that he hadn’t arrested Conor at any time.

The summons said that Fleming was the arresting officer. Though in fairness, the summons was calling on Conor to answer to allegations about a crime that doesn’t exist in law.

A receipt signed by the member in charge said that Fleming had been the arresting officer.

Another row ensued with Inspector Kennedy around this time, with the Inspector babbling incoherently about the video footage again. He was not mollified by having it pointed out to him that he was confusing the video footage taken by CCTV with the footage shot by Conor on the night in question. The inspector desperately went into the fact that Conor had had to institute Judicial Review proceedings, just to have his Gary Doyle order complied with – he’d had his Gary Doyle order and he’d been given video footage and a transcript from the video that Conor had shot.

Conor excused the witness and Inspector Kennedy re-called his first witness once more. I almost felt sorry for the Inspector at this point, considering that he’d just said that the Gary Doyle order had been fully complied with. I almost felt sorry for Tom, who was turning a deathly purple colour.

Conor played around with the engineer a bit before demanding the deeds that identified the legal owners of Shannon airport. Brendan Mullin looked like a caged monkey and tuned to the Judge for a helping hand. Judge Mangan wasn’t allowing this farce to go any further, once he satisfied himself that Brendan hadn’t brought the necessary paperwork to establish his claims as fact. As Brendan’s testimony was being considered in both cases against Conor, the Judge binned both, without the details of the second being revealed.

Funny thing is, I cannot fathom why Inspector Tom added the engineer to his list of witnesses in the first place. Who in Christ’s name was going to dispute the area under the jurisdiction of the Air Transport and Navigation Act? I’m pretty damned sure Conor wasn’t going to.

Alternative link to article:

A short report describing the harassment experienced by protestors while displaying an anti-war banner at Shannon airport. The report highlights the fact that the Gardaí are either unaware of the law or do not practice it. This contrasts strongly with the claims by the government that gardaí are upholding civil and human rights at Shannon while at the same time facilitating the transport of US military supplies and CIA planes that are used for the transportation of torture victims.

Related Links: Report on the 2008 Shannon Peace CampReport of Oireachtas Committee Debate on Extraordinary RenditionOther Anti-War Features on Shannon

Paul O’Toole, Elaine O’Sullivan and yours truly infiltrated Shannon Airport yesterday to unveil a banner that read “US Military Out Of Shannon,” outside the entrance to the main terminal building.

I use the term “infiltrated,” lightly. In truth, we’d overshot the Peace Camp and ended up on the approach to the security checkpoint in the airport. We were behind two other cars that were stopped at the checkpoint and we were watching a group of Gardaí who were unlawfully preventing a group of activists, who were on foot, from entering the airport. After a quick chat with the occupants of the two cars in front of us they were waved on and it was our turn. The Gardaí gave a quick glance into our vehicle and without a single question waved us on too. It was like a scene out of Star Wars, where the Stormtrooper allows Luke Skwalker and Obiwan into the city after Obiwan uses the ‘Force’ and tells the Stormtrooper that there’s nothing to see and that there’s no reason to stop them.

Paul parked the car in the short-term car park. We took out one of the banners that we’d brought and made our way over to the entrance of the terminal. Paul and I waited beside two Gardaí as Elaine went into the terminal for a trip to the ladies. When Elaine came out we made our way over to the other side of the entrance and unfurled the banner. Elaine and I held the banner and Paul took pictures. We were waiting for about ten minutes and freezing before we came to the attention of the Gardaí.

The two Gardaí that Paul and I had stood beside initially, came over to us in a very business-like manner and after the initial greetings they got down to business. We were informed that we were engaged in an unlawful activity and that we’d have to leave. The Garda speaking at this point, after being questioned said he was enforcing the Air Navigation and Transport Act – Section 8. I didn’t correct this Garda with regard to this – section 8 is the wrong section. Section 33 is the section that he should have been aware as being the relevant section. A Garda has no power to enforce a law he is unaware of.

Understanding that it was section 33 that should have been used, I informed the Garda that I was not in violation of the Airport Navigation and Transport Act and that we were at the airport for a lawful purpose. I told him that were we there to protest and asked him if he considered protest to be unlawful. He had no answer for this and told me that he was acting under the instructions of the airport police (sounds similar to the actions of the Gardaí in Rossport). I then told the Garda that he was bound by his oath where he promised to uphold the Constitution and my rights. He answered that he was only following orders. To which I answered that the order that he was following was an unlawful one and that I would not be paying any attention to it. After he got over his amazement that I was disobeying his order he told me that I would have to follow his order or that there would be action taken. At this point the (big) Garda that had been interacting with Paul and Elaine came over to me and demanded my name and address under the Public Order Act. I informed this Garda that despite the fact that he had no business using this act to demand my name and address that I would comply. I decided not to get into a semantics-based argument on this because Section 33 of the Airport Navigation and Transport Act allows for an ’Authorised’ person to demand my name and address without supplying a reason for this demand. However, the Garda had demanded my name and address using the Public Order Act, and he had not cautioned me before doing this. I decided to explore this with him before supplying my details. I asked him what reasonable suspicion fuelled his belief that we were about to provoke a breach of the peace. He had no answer for this and just parroted his demand that I supply my name and address under the Public Order Act. I asked him if he felt that I was either a threat to security or if I were likely to provoke a breach of the peace in his opinion. He could not or would not answer this either. These were grounds to ignore both him and his order, but I gave my name and address at this point for reasons that I’ve already gone into.

At this point Elaine was giving a running commentary to Tim Hourigan via a phone. Tim was stuck outside the Airport with other activists. Paul continued to snap pictures and to ask the Gardaí questions regarding their want to quell legitimate protest and at the same time enable and facilitate genocide. The Gardaí had no answers for Paul either.

At one point in her conversation with Tim and before I’d given my name and address, Elaine told Tim that I might be arrested. To this the (big) Garda answered that nobody had said anything about arrest. A squad car and an Airport Police van pulled up at this point and the two Gardaí left us to have a conference with them. Lots of Airport Police emerged from the terminal to glare at us at this point. In the middle of all of this I got a phone call from a concerned Niall Harnett. I told Niall that discussions thus far had been reasonable and that we did not feel either threatened or in Danger. To the credit of the two Gardaí they were both well mannered and at no point did they put a hand on us or our banner. We gave Niall the names and numbers of the two Gardaí and made arrangements in case there were any arrests made.

When the conference between the Gardaí and the Airport Police was over the two Gardaí came back to us. They stood talking with us and were blocking the banner from public view. Elaine informed them of this and asked them to move, which they did. The two Gardaí moved to my side between me and the Airport Police who were still glaring at us. The (big) Garda took Elaine’s and Paul’s details after this and then approached me asking me for my date of birth. I informed him that I’d already given him my name and address and that I’d be giving him nothing else. Realising that this particular game was going nowhere he did not pursue it further.

Whilst all this was happening a small wagtail came in for a landing a few feet to our rear. Paul immediately started to photograph it. Some six foot two ‘knob’ dressed in the uniform of an Airport cop came over to Paul and demanded that he stop taking photos as he did not have permission from Aer Rianta. Paul told this person that he was unaware of what law he was breaking. The ‘knob’ informed Paul that he was in violation of the Air Navigation and Transport Act. When questioned by Paul with regard to what section was being violated the ‘knob’ replied that Paul was violating “Sec – shun – thir – tee – tree” as he made a hasty retreat to hide behind the pack of Airport Police that had gathered outside the entrance to my left. The poor wagtail took all of this in his stride as did we and he continued to chirp merrily, oblivious to the bullshit going on around him. We have some footage of him which we’ve christened “The footage that the Authorities in Shannon didn’t want you to see.

We were asked a few times more would we be leaving by the two Gardaí, who were answered in the negative.

We displayed the banner for another ten to fifteen minutes before we succumbed to the weather and decided to leave of our own volition. The (big) Garda told me that he had joined the Gardaí for the right reasons as we were leaving. I told him that I accepted this without reservation, but that he should not allow himself to be used for unlawful purposes and asked him to research what constituted an ‘unlawful order.’ He replied that he would and we left to meet our friends outside the airport. Paul picked up the car whilst Elaine and I took the banner and displayed it to everyone we passed as we walked to the checkpoint where our fellow activists were interacting with a large group Gardaí.

One might be tempted to refer to our action as a victory of sorts, but on reflection this would be quite wrong. We were but a token representation of the group who’d made their way to Shannon to protest lawfully. We were lucky that we got to practice our lawful rights and we deplore the fact that others were unlawfully prevented from practicing their lawful and civil rights.

Our experience begs that many questions be asked. A few weeks ago at a debate in the Oireachtas, which I attended in the company of Ed Horgan and Conor Cregan it was said that the Gardaí were currently engaged in training with regard to them being in a position to enforce Human Rights and specifically so at Shannon airport – this was specifically in regard to policing Extraordinary Rendition flights which frequent Shannon Airport on a frighteningly regular basis. How can the Gardaí enforce such lofty goals when they refuse to recognise basic Civil Rights? How can they ensure International Law is adhered to when they don’t even understand simple acts like the Air Navigation and Transport Act and the Public Order Act?

Here’s a copy of Section 33 of the Air Transport and Navigation Act. Please note that there is no prohibition whatsoever on photography or a requirement that persons seek the authorisation of Aer Rianta.

33.—(1) An authorised officer, in the interest of the proper operation, or the security or safety, of an aerodrome, or the security or safety of persons, aircraft or other property thereon, may do all or any of the following things—

( a ) stop, detain for such time as is reasonably necessary for the exercise of any of his powers under this section, and search any person or vehicle on an aerodrome;

( b ) require any person on an aerodrome to—

(i) give his name and address and to produce other evidence of his identity;

(ii) state the purpose of his being on the aerodrome;

(iii) account for any baggage or other property which may be in his possession;

( c ) order any person

(i) who refuses to give his name or address, or to produce other evidence of his identity, or

(ii) who refuses to state the purpose of his being on the aerodrome, or

(iii) who refuses to account for any baggage or other property in his possession, or

(iv) who gives a name or address or states a purpose of his being on the aerodrome which is known, or is reasonably suspected, by the authorised officer to be false or fictitious, or

(v) whom he knows not to have, or whom he reasonably suspects of not having, a lawful reason for being on the aerodrome,

to leave the aerodrome, or any part thereof, or he may remove such person from the aerodrome, or any part thereof, or he may arrest that person without warrant,

( d ) arrest without warrant any person- 4

(i) who assaults, or whom he reasonably suspects to have assaulted, another person on an aerodrome, or

(ii) whom he knows to have, or whom he reasonably suspects of having contravened section 12 or 19, or

(iii) whom he knows to have, or reasonably suspects of having, a stolen article in his possession.

(2) Where an authorised officer, who is not a member of the Garda Síochána, arrests a person under this section, he shall, forthwith, deliver such person into the custody of a member of the Garda Síochána to be dealt with in accordance with law.

(3) Where an authorised officer arrests a person pursuant to the powers conferred on him by subsection (1) (d) (iii), he may retain in his possession any article which he knows to have been, or reasonably suspects of having been, stolen until it has been established whether or not the article was stolen.

(4) A person who was ordered by an authorised officer to leave an aerodrome or part of an aerodrome, or who was removed from an aerodrome or part of an aerodrome by an authorised officer, shall not, on the same day, without the permission of an authorised officer, return to the aerodrome or the part of the aerodrome which he was ordered to leave, or from which he was removed, as the case may be.

(5) Any person who obstructs or impedes an authorised officer in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section, or who fails to comply with any lawful requirement of an authorised officer under this section, shall be guilty of an offence.

(6) In this section, “authorised officer” has the same meaning as in section 15 of the Act of 1950 (as amended by this Act).

(Big) Garda deals with Elaine

Paul between two apple trees planted in memory of dear friends

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