Galway peace activist demands political prisoner status

Controversial Galway peace activist Niall Farrell is demanding political prisoner status when he starts a two week gaol sentence in Limerick Prison tomorrow.

Mr Farrell has agreed to “surrender himself” to gardaí at the Liam Mellows statue in Eyre Square, at 1.30pm when he is to be arrested for refusing to pay a court imposed fine or sign a peace bond.

In June Mr Farrell (61 ) and Margaretta D’Arcy (80 ) were found guilty of having “interfered with the proper use” of Shannon Airport, following their protest on the runway last September. They were given a two week suspended sentence and what approximates to a €100 fine.

Ms D’Arcy has since been imprisoned for her failure to comply with the Ennis District Court’s ruling. The gardaí have been in contact with Mr Farrell, who also refused to pay, and he has agreed to surrender himself tomorrow.

Ahead of his arrest, Mr Farrell has written to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, demanding he be treated as a political prisoner.

In his letter to the Minister, the Belfast born Mr Farrell argues his “actions at Shannon Airport were specifically to oppose the continuing criminality taking place there…. Indeed, as I write, cargoes of death that have travelled freely through Shannon Airport or Irish airspace are raining down in an act of genocide on the helpless people of Gaza. It is not I who is the criminal, rather those in the Irish State who have willingly been an accessory to these crimes against humanity carried out via Shannon Airport and Irish airspace by the US war machine and its proxies”.

Mr Farrell concludes the letter to the Minister stating: “By sending me to Limerick Prison to serve this sentence the Irish State is attempting to criminalise my peaceful political actions. I cannot and will not accept this. I demand the right to be treated as a political prisoner and if I am not, I will not conform while in jail.”

Prior to his arrest tomorrow, Mr Farrell and the Galway Alliance Against War will hold a peace event before the Liam Mellows’ statue at 1pm.

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