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Mick Wallace has been released from prison after just two hours inside

Mick Wallace
Mick Wallace

Wexford TD Mick Wallace has been released from prison after just two hours inside.

Wallace, who was presented in the Dáil this morning before his arrest, is understood to have been freed from Limerick Prison shortly after 4pm.

The exact circumstances surrounding his release are not yet clear but it is understood that prison governors have discretion about detaining people for minor offences such as the non-payment of fine.

It had been thought that Mr Wallace would spend Christmas in jail after being sentenced to 30 days imprisonment for not paying a €2,000 fine.

Deputy Wallace was arrested by arrangement at Clontarf Garda station in Dublin this morning and arrived at Limerick Prison shortly before 2pm.

Last week we reported that Mr Wallace and Ms Daly would face arrest as bench warrants were being issued for the pair.

Bench warrants for the arrest of both politicians were sent from the Courts Service Fines Office last month to their respective local Garda stations in Clontarf and Coolock

It is not yet known if Ms Daly has also been arrested.

Under the terms of the bench warrants, the gardai were 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 at the time, 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."

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.