Wexford's Wallace facing jail over fine refusal
WEXFORD Deputy Mick Wallace is facing a month in prison after declaring that he wouldn't pay a €2,000 fine imposed for clambering over the fence at Shannon Airport in a failed bid to search a US aircraft for arms and ammunition.
'I wouldn't pay that fine to save my life,' Wallace told reporters on the steps of Ennis courthouse, after he and Deputy Clare Daly were each fined €2,000 after being found guilty by Judge Patrick Durcan of breaching airport regulations when entering a restricted area at Shannon airport last July.
The judge has given them three months to pay and threatened 30 days in prison if they do not.
Deputy Daly said she too had no intention paying the fine.
'We have no intention of paying a financial contribution to a state which allows this behaviour to continue (at Shannon),' she said, adding that no appeal will be lodged against the conviction.
'We don't feel that we did anything wrong and we won't engage any further,' she said, '(the court is not an arena where the argument can be made any further so no, we won't be appealing'.
The rope ladder used by the pair to scale the fence is still in the possession of the gardai.
During the two-day hearing, Mr Wallace asked for its return. Asked if he had been given it back, he said: 'I'm working on it.'
Convicting the two, Judge Durcan said: 'It is not proper that this court is used as a battlefield by protagonists who should pursue issues raised in another forum.'
He said that the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble and a right to protest, but the exercise of that right is not unfettered.
The airport bye-laws of 1994 are a proportionate response by the State, the judge said, adding that he was satisfied that the deputies had breached the regulations.
Deputy Wallace spoke from the body of the court when asked by Judge Durcan to comment on his own circumstances in relation to the penalty.
'If you think for thinking the truth and standing up for what we believe in - if you think we should be put in jail for that, I disagree,' Mr Wallace said.
Speaking outside court, Mr Wallace said he was 'disappointed' with the outcome.
'We made very strong arguments that we didn't go in to Shannon airport to break the peace, we went in there to make the peace,' he said.
Ms Daly said Judge Durcan accepted without qualification the knowledge and expertise of witnesses that they furnished to the court.
'Those witnesses said categorically that weapons and ammunition were on board US aircraft in clear breach of the conditions that were outlined,' she said.