Anarchists take direct action against torture / rendition flights at Baldonnel


Sunday April 16 saw the Irish government mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter 1916 insurrection against British imperialism. Some 120,000 turned out to watch a military parade and a fly past. To coincide with the event anti-war activists, most of them anarchists, were making their way to Baldonnel airbase where the planes and helicopters involved in the fly past took off from. This airbase has been used by USA Hercules military planes and has been involved in CIA torture flights.In the run up to the 90th anniversary of 1916 many wondered how best to mark the event. Some marched the day before, some a few hours after. But the teflon Taoiseach trod where few men dared. At 12.00 he was at the GPO to commemorate an insurrection against imperialism. At 15.00 he was sending the troops in against an anti-imperialist demonstration.

I was one of the few (the very few) who decided that the best place to mark the anniversary was out at Baldonnel airbase. Home to the Irish air force and increasingly to US Hercules and rendition / torture fights. Once Britain demanded the right to use Irish ports to project its naval power around the globe. Now the USA demands the right to use our airports to project its military power.

With around 15 others I took part in the Critical Mass that left Heuston station at 1.45 to make its way to Baldonnel via the Grand canal. As we passed through Clondalkin we were passed by a bus load of anarchist youth also heading for Baldonnel. Between us and another dozen who made their own way there around 70 of us turned up.

That we were in for a hostile reception was immediately obvious. As soon as people got off the bus the Gardai moved in to make their first arrest – of someone who felt the call of nature and had retired into a field to relieve this. Soon after the car of someone was seized under a technical pretext.

As we marched to the airport we found not only dozens of Gardai waiting for us but also over 100 soldiers, the police helicopter and the Baldonnel fire truck deployed as a water cannon. Bertie was taking no risks.

Inside the fence the soldiers were ordered into lines, outside the Gardai travelled on foot, in cars and on bikes. At the main gate to the airport the Gardai had prepared a protest pen. No one entered it but we did deliver a statement that we intended to inspect the airport for weapons and torture flights. A thin blue line formed in front of the gates and inside a thicker green one as soldiers jogged up to the gates. We attempted an entry but alas failed in this attempt.

So we marched on around the perimeter of the airfield till we came to a section where construction work had left a way through to the perimeter fence. 1-2-3 charge and away the front of the march went over the hill. The gardai were slow to react but as those at the front got near the fence soliders in camouflage emerged from the bushs on the other side.

Nevertheless ropes were soon in place and a pull was started on the fence – short lived as the arrival of the Lancers of today (bicycle gardai) interrupted proceedings. With the cavalry in placed the foot soldiers were given a few vital moments to catch up, throw a few punches and kicks and make some more arrests.

The arrests as usual were pretty random – but they were more violent than those seen at recent anti-war demonstrations. People were punched in the face, throttled and slammed into the ground. Once on the grounds knees were applied to the neck or boots to the face. Bertie had given the orders.

Those who were left formed and marched back out of the area to catch the bus to Clondalkin Gardai station and to demand the release of our comrades. After a couple of hours they were released and we retired to Dublin city centre.

So tonight Bertie like McNally before him can sleep sound in his bed knowing he has struck the republican pose and taken the imperialist gold at the same time. Unlike Leonard he has done so in public - will you let him get away with it?

First posted to, see for photographs

Background material on Baldonnel
Statement from Senator David Norris

Officials probe CIA denials on prisoner planes landing here

CIA using Baldonnel

Roger Casement