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News ::
Fintan Lane, Irish AntiWar Organiser Goes To Jail, 60 Days (english)
27 Nov 2003
Modified: 08:24:36 AM
{ photos & audio by redjade } (no copyright) (article 1)
{ photos & audio by redjade } (no copyright) (article 1)
{ photos & audio by redjade } (no copyright) (article 2)
Leading Cork anti-war activist Dr Fintan Lane was today (Wednesday, 26 November) jailed for 60 days following his refusal to pay a 750 fine imposed in April by Judge Joseph Mangan at Tulla District Court for his part in a mass trespass at Shannon airport on 12 October 2002. Dr Lane was given three months to pay the fine, but refused to do so. The deadline for payment passed on 29 July.

Dr Lane surrendered to gardai at 4pm this morning at Barrack Street Garda Station in Cork city. He was immediately taken into custody.

Speaking shortly before his arrest, Dr Lane said: 'The mass trespass in which I was involved was an act of protest and resistance against the integration of an Irish civilian airport into the U.S. war machine. What we did was an act of conscience and I have no regrets. I couldn't pay this fine because that would be to plead guilty retrospectively and I will not do that. I feel no guilt over my actions.'

He continued: 'Innocent people are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the war machine that is being facilitated at Shannon airport. What is happening is an outrage, and it is no exaggeration to say that Fianna Fail and the PDs have blood on their hands.'

'I don't want to be in jail, but as an Irish citizen I refuse to be implicated in the immoral actions of this government. It is important that people stand up and say no to the refuelling of U.S. warplanes at Shannon.'

Commenting on the mass trespass, he said: 'Civil disobedience needs to be taken seriously as a tactic by Irish anti-war activists, particularly as the government completely ignored the hundreds of thousands who marched against the war and against Irish involvement. This is not a game it is about the lives of our fellow human beings in Iraq. The protests at Shannon are happening in the context of Iraqi people dying on a daily basis as a result of the Bush adminstration's economic and foreign policy agenda. It is clear that the United States is intent on extending its military power in the oil-rich Middle East. This is all about power and the control of global resources, and ordinary people are the so-called collateral damage.'

Concluding, Dr Lane called on all those opposed to Irish complicity with the US occupation of Iraq to attend the demonstration at Shannon airport on December 6th: "It is important that there is a large turnout to demonstrate to Fianna Fail and the PDs that we will not put up with the refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon. Enough is enough."

The Irish Anti-War Movement peaceful mass blockade planned for the airport will assemble at 2pm in Shannon town centre on Saturday, 6th December, before marching to the airport terminal.

BACKGROUND: On 12 October 2002, an Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) demonstration was held at Shannon airport to protest against the provision of refuelling facilities for U.S. warplanes. As the march was leaving the airport, a number of activists, mainly from Cork, pulled down a section of fencing, instigating a peaceful mass trespass by over 100 anti-war protesters. Once inside the fence a sitdown was held during which peace songs were sung and anti-war slogans chanted. At no stage did the protesters go onto or near the runway. Gardai moved in and made ten arrests. Nine people subsequently appeared in court and in late April eight were convicted on trespassing charges, including Dr Fintan Lane. Heavy fines were handed down and five of the protesters, including Dr Lane, were also banned from entering County Clare for a period of two years. Dr Lane pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that his actions were 'an act of conscience' and 'justified' because the airport was being used to kill people.

Dr Lane was fined 750 and given until the end of July to pay, or face 60 days in jail. His refusal to pay this fine was based on his belief that "civil disobedience is an appropriate reaction to the ongoing misuse of Shannon airport."

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS: Dr Fintan Lane is a historian and former university lecturer, who currently works as a freelance editor. He is the editor of Saothar, the academic journal of Irish labour history; and the author of The Origins of Modern Irish Socialism, 1881-1896 (Cork University Press: Cork, 1997), and In Search of Thomas Sheahan: Radical Politics in Cork, 1824-1836 (Irish Academic Press: Dublin, 2001), as well as many articles and reviews in academic journals such as Irish Historical Studies, Irish Economic and Social History, and History Ireland. He is a leading member of the broad-based Cork Anti-War Campaign, and a member of the national steering committee of the Irish Anti-War Movement.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Two photographs of Fintan Lane are attached to this press release. There is no copyright on these photographs and they may be used without attribution.


For further information, contact Cork Anti-War Campaign co-ordinators, Dominic Carroll at 023 40881, and John Jefferies at 086 3004573.
See also:


Interview with Fintan Lane - Transcription (english)
27 Nov 2003
Fintan Lane
Interviewed at Bewley's CafeDublin, Ireland
23 November 2003

I became involved in the Irish anti-war movement during 2000, I attended demonstrations at Shannon and on October 12, 2002 there was an Irish anti war movement demonstration march out at the airport. A number of us felt that previous marches have been ignored and there was a need to engage in some sort of action that would force attention on the issue.

We met as the demonstration was progressing to decide on the format of that action. What we planned basically was to create an opportunity for a mass trespass. We decided to do this by shaking the fence in the hope that it would come down. Once it was down we hoped that people would instinctively cross the line into the field and stage a mass sit-down within the airport grounds. We were presently surprised when we shook the fence to discover that it was actually very weakly structured and it came down almost immediately. In fact, it came down on top on some of the people involved in pulling at it - and on top of some Guardia who tried to intervene.

Once the fence was down a number of people crossed immediately and I crossed quite soon after. But, I don't think we would have gone any great distance unless we saw that there was an interest it, unless we saw that people were intent on participating in a mass trespass. [A] large number of the protesters did cross the line and there was a mass-trespass involving approximately a hundred people.

We went [...] within 150 yards of the runway. At no stage did we attempt to go onto the runway and we had no intention of interfering with the traffic of the airport. We staged a peaceful sit-down protest, people sang songs, and chanted slogans.

We generally tried to ignore the Gurdai who were gathering at this stage with dogs and vans and fire hoses and so on. We quite deliberately did not engage any belligerent activity or confrontation with the Guards however they began to confront the protesters and insist that they we leave the airport grounds. Needless to say, we refused.

People began to link their arms on the ground. The Gardai moved in and began to arrest people - they ultimately arrested ten people. Including a number of those that they identified as 'ring leaders.' Five of the people that were arrested were from Cork, including myself.

Essentially, I was arrested when I refused to leave. I was given a number of warnings I explained what we were engaged in was an act of conscience to protect the lives of people in Iraq. We were opposed to the facilitation of the U.S. war machine and that we believed that Civil Disobedience was acceptable and justified in that context.

We were arrested and brought to the Shannon Garda station, subsequently charged and brought to court and found guilty of trespass.

My personal penalty was a fine of 750 euros plus I was banned from County Claire for two years. I couldn't in my own conscience pay the fine. For me, it would be the equivalent of paying an entrance fee to protest. I will not pay 750 euros for the right to protest against the use of a civilian airport to kill people.

Shannon airport is a civilian airport but it has been effectively integrated into the US war machine. It is not hyperbole to say that it is a US Air Base at this stage. A hundred thousand US troops went through Shannon airport in 2003. In September 100s of flights went through and 10,000 soldiers.

At the time, we were protesting in Oct 2002 it had already been used extensively to support the invasion of Afghanistan. But it was also being used, according to documents that were released in Ed Horgan's case, to ferry through Patriot Missiles. In fact, Patriot Missiles had already passed through Shannon at that stage.

There is no question that Shannon is part of the US war machine. And I am absolutely incapable of paying for the right to protest against the misuse of an Irish civilian airport. It is being used to kill people and people should bare that in mind when they consider whether or not to support people like myself who are going to jail.

The penalty for not paying the fine is 60 days in jail and I agreed with the Gardai to hand myself in Wednesday [November 26 2003]. It is unclear how long I will actually serve. If I behave myself, it seems, I may get out after 45 days - I almost certainly will be there over Christmas. But I have no regrets. I am not looking forward to going to jail.

I have absolutely no sense of guilt about what I did and I have no regrets in terms of the action I have taken, in terms of the consequences, from the very beginning I understood there would be consequences and I think people should be willing to accept those consequences. Either pay the fine or go to jail - one or the other. I personally couldn't pay the fine. Other people for their own personal reasons felt that they had to pay the fine because they didn't want to lose jobs or whatever. That's their personal decision and I fully respect that and I don't think people should be criticised for doing that.

In terms of the anti-war movement in general, the blockade on the 6th of December [2003] will be interesting. I think it will indicate whether people are willing to ratchet up the campaign around Shannon airport. There have been 23 protests at Shannon airport since 2000 and most of those protests have involved marches to the airport, and rallies at fenced off areas near the airport terminal.

I think marches and rallies are extremely important. And I don't think they should be dismissed. They are important, and I think marches in urban centers, besides Shannon, are also extremely important. But I think it is also necessary to integrate Civil Disobedience in the sense that Shannon airport can actually be blockaded successfully. It is possible for ordinary people to take action for themselves and to physically stop the airport from being used.

It would create great difficulty for Aer Rianta and serves to punish them for allowing the airport be used for the US war machine. More to the point, I think it is an empowering experience people in the anti-war movement to actually go out there take action for themselves, and effectively disrupt normal business, and make it impossible for the US Military to operate within the airport that day.

I do not believe the US Military will continue to operate that Shannon airport if we create a situation where normal business is disrupted to such an extent that the US Military will feel uncomfortable about being there and Aer Rianta will feel uncomfortable about having them there. I think the airport authorities and the government should be made to pay for their facilitation of the US war machine.

The last march to Shannon airport on June 21st [2003] was stopped on the road well short of the airport and the protest was effectively frustrated by the Gardai - in simple terms it was broken up. I have absolutely no doubt that if we had arranged [a similar] march for Dec 6th that it would also have been stopped on the road to the airport. And the right to protest again would be frustrated.

In that context, I cannot see that we had any other option except to step up the campaign. After June 21st, I was interviewed on local radio in Limerick and Claire, while expressing outrage at Garda actions I also indicated that the Gardai by restricting the right to protest, were effectively forcing us to take the protest on to the streets and roads in the vicinity of the airport. We have no other option if they intend to frustrate our right to protest.

In a more positive vein, it is the right thing to do, anyway - it is something that should been done a long time ago. If we are going to succeed we have to show that we are serious about it we have to show that we believe in what we have been saying about Shannon airport.

There is a war on and we are dealing with an airport that's helping to kill people. If the government isn't interested in stopping the refueling at Shannon airport, ordinary Irish people can stop it by physically making the airport unusable. And that's what we should be able to achieve Dec 6th - and I think Dec 6th will be the start of a series of blockades that will make the airport unusable when those blockades occur.

I suspect it will concentrate minds, Aer Rianta will lose money but also it will turn Shannon airport into a national issue to the extent that it hasn't been to date. It has certainly been an issue in the national media, but it hasn't been as large as an issue in public consciousness as it should be. I think if we create a situation where you almost have a siege of Shannon airport it will make a difference in terms of public knowledge and public perception of what is happening there.

I think Dec 6th is extremely important, and people should turn up. Ultimately it will only succeed if people turn up. It is a case of people taking action for themselves. If people want this to be a success they have to be there on the day.


I will be restricted in many ways, obviously it is a prison. Visits will not be possible, I will have one visit a week and that will be restricted to people that I know. But I can receive mail and mail will certainly be welcome. In fact, it will be a useful diversion because apparently I will not be able to which television or listen to the radio or do any of these things I am used to do on a daily basis. It will really be quite nice.

While I'll like to receive messages of solidarity, the most important message of solidarity that people can send me, or anyone in jail for any offense in regard to Shannon airport, is to continue the protest and to turn up at Shannon on Dec 6th.

I am one individual and I don't think people should focus on me as a 'martyr for the cause' - I think it is up to everyone protest in a way they feel comfortable and everyone has a role to play. This is the route that I have chosen but that doesn't mean everybody will necessarily want to be arrested and go to jail. In the some situations that may not be the best option and for others it will be their individual choice.

In terms of how people could act in solidarity with me and other people that end up in prison for anti-war activities, the best act of solidarity is to continue with the protests at Shannon and to turn up at the blockades and just carry on.


I think it is very important that ALL elements of the anti-war movement work together. There has been too much friction and division in the past.

The Irish Anti-War Movement [IAWM ] is only one section of the anti-war movement. It is not THE anti-war movement. The Grassroots Gathering is in a similar position and there are many other small groups out there that are playing a vital role, as well.

I think all sections need to work together with respect for each other with a sense of the diversity of the movement. It is crucial that people respect the diversity of the movement. We may disagree on tactical issues, at times, but we shouldn't lose sight of the reality that we all have the same objective in mind, the end of Irish complicity with the US war machine and ultimately an end to US war mongering.
photos of Fintan Lane (english)
27 Nov 2003
all copyright free
photos of Fintan Lane (english)
27 Nov 2003
all copyright free
photos of Fintan Lane (english)
27 Nov 2003
all copyright free