As we await the day of sentencing for the Disarm Now Plowshares it is good for us to remember that the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 stand in good company within a larger, global plowshares community.
On a damp, cold night in January 2003 Mary Kelly, a nurse and mother of 4 children, entered Shannon Airport in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland and disabled a U.S. Navy war plane that had stopped for refueling while bringing armaments to Iraq for the illegal U.S. war there. Mary, with full knowledge of the consequences, took an axe to the nose cone and fuel lines.
Mary’s action was driven by conscience and full knowledge of the rule of law, and particularly international humanitarian law and the Nurenburg Principles, which her own government seemed to have completely overlooked. She was arrested and stood trial. She pleaded “lawful excuse”; that she took that action to save the lives of people in Iraq. After a hung jury in the first trial a second jury convicted Mary after the judge disallowed any consideration of lawful defense (a familiar story!!!). The judge gave her two years imprisonment – suspended.
After a long struggle Mary’s appeal was finally heard in 2008 by the Court of Criminal Appeal, and finally on Friday, February 25, 2011 the three judges of the appeals court overturned Mary’s conviction. Although far too long in coming, the Irish appeals court ruling is most welcome, and stands in stark contrast to the decisions handed down in U.S. courts when people stand up fo their moral convictions as well as recognized legal principles in other plowshares actions.
Here’s to justice served!
Read more about Mary Kelly by clicking here.