Christmas behind bars for rebel TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace
Clare Daly and Mick Wallace

Rebel TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly are set to spend Christmas in prison after refusing to pay fines of €2,000 imposed on them for breaching security at Shannon Airport in July of last year.

Reports indicate that bench warrants for the arrest of both politicians were sent from the Courts Service Fines Office last Wednesday to their respective local Garda stations in Clontarf and Coolock, and that these are expected to be executed shortly.

Under the terms of the bench warrants, the gardai are empowered to collect the €2,000 fines ordered by Judge Patrick Durcan at Ennis District Court or to commit both Mr Wallace and Ms Daly to prison to serve the 30-day sentence he imposed in the event of non-payment.

The original deadline set by Judge Durcan for payment of the fines expired on July 22 last.

Contacted for comment on the matter yesterday, Mr Wallace confirmed that the warrants had now been issued to gardai. The Wexford TD said however, that neither he nor Ms Daly were aware of when the gardai would decide to act on them.

Asked if he was prepared to go to prison, he said: "The decision of myself and Clare Daly to scale the fence at Shannon Airport was designed to help keep the peace, not break it. We do not accept the judge's decision to the contrary, and under no circumstances will we pay the fines. We realise this may mean serving time in prison. It's not something we'd look forward to, but if it happens, so be it."

With the warrants now in the possession of the relevant garda stations, it is likely that the two TDs will be behind bars for Christmas, as there are less than 30 days left between now and Christmas Day.

Mr Wallace and Ms Daly were intercepted by Shannon Airport security and subsequently arrested in July 2014 after they attempted to carry out an inspection of a US military Hercules C-130 and another military airplane which were parked next to the airport's main runway.

A lunchtime flight from London Heathrow was making a final approach when the pair were detained and it landed without incident.

Defending their actions yesterday, Mr Wallace said: "The fact that Shannon continues to be used by the US military should be a cause of concern for the Irish people, now more than ever. The Irish Government is complicit in the mindless destruction wreaked on the Middle East region and beyond by the US military war machine, causing the deaths of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians and the displacement of millions."

Several people have been prosecuted in recent years for infringements at Shannon Airport including anti-war activists Niall Farrell and 80-year-old Margaretta D'Arcy, a friend of President Michael D Higgins's wife Sabina.