Margaretta D'Arcy (pictured left) was released yesterday (Mar 22) from Mountjoy Prison after serving nine and a half weeks of a three month term for refusing to sign a bond to uphold the law and keep away from unauthorised zones in Shannon Airport. She described the airport as 'a place of murder, assassination and complicity.' Margaretta is a remarkable woman and there is something very unusual in the way she has acted which is worth highlighting before the story slips from view.

The horror that is the Western invasion of Iraq has been well documented at this stage. Over a million innocent civilians killed, a country transformed from stability, albeit under a brutal dictatorship, to civil war. Where, in Fallujah, babies are born with birth defects at a level 14 times higher than after the atomic bombs in Hirohima and Nagasaki due to a 2005 attack by Allied Forces which rained down depleted uranium on the population. The rape and pillage of oil resources to prop up a failing western economy. Etc. etc. All this we know.

What is significant about what Margaretta D'Arcy has done is she has refused to walk by on the other side of the road like the Priest and the Levite. The Greek word which is used to describe the Samaritan's response - Splagchnizomai - is a word I believe can be used to describe Margaretta's action. It is usually translated 'compassion' but it is a special kind of compassion. It means being viscerally moved in the bowels by the plight of those around us. It appears 12 times in the New Testament and 8 of those times describes the actions of Jesus. It is a word, more than any other, which characterises Jesus' response to those in need around him. That such an elderly lady suffering from cancer and using a Zimmer frame would be willing to endure a prison sentence suggests she too has been viscerally moved with compassion for the plight of those around her.

When the question of faith and religious practise arises it is often gauged by the question "How many people are attending mass on Sundays?" or "How many people ticked RC in the census?" but these measures tell us very little about what is going on in the hearts of people. A far better measure is Splagchnizomai. How many of us are viscerally moved with compassion by the plight of those who suffer around us? To see what this means we have the example of Jesus ... and a little old lady with a Zimmer frame. Thank you Margaretta!

The video below was produced in association with Afri who hosted the recent visit of the family of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning to Dublin. There was a strong theme of 'truth' running through their visit. The truth of Chelsea's experience in prison. The truth of the murder of innocent civilians which he uncovered. The truth of the experience of so many innocent prisoners highlighted by Gerard Conlon, one of the Guilford Four. Chelsea and his family have given us a very powerful witness to how the way of truth and the way of the cross are one and the same.

This weekend the family of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning visited Dublin to highlight her case. She is currently serving a 35 year sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for the release of documents and a video which revealed the true horrors of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. On her way to serve in Iraq Chelsea passed through Shannon Airport a shameful reminder of Ireland's complicity in these horrors. In the video above anti-war activist Ciaron O'Reilly speaks in Temple Bar and the picture below shows Susan Manning (Chelsea's mother) in the Brian Boru pub in Phibsboro where a reception was hosted by Afri who organised the visit.




IPB Statement


The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce that this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be awarded to Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower whose case has attracted worldwide attention, for his courageous actions in revealing information about US war crimes. His trial is likely to be concluded in the coming days.


Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan, as well as the material used in the “Collateral Murder” video produced by WikiLeaks: videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Garani airstrike in Afghanistan. At the time, it constituted the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. Much of it was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010.

We have just passed the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the report below from Democracy Now on the effects of depleted uranium shows how the Iraqi people are still feeling the effects. The amount of congenital birth defects in present day Fallujah is 14 times more than was experienced in Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the dropping of the Atomic Bombs. Fallujah was the object of a ferocious military attack by the US and coalition military in Dec 2004.

In Ireland in 2003 the Fianna Fail / Progressive Democrat government voted in favour of the invasion by allowing Shannon Airport to be used by the US military. The full debate from the time can be accessed here. If you scroll down to the end of the debate you can read the names of the Fianna Fail and Progressive Democrat TD's who voted in favour and some of whom are still serving TD's, including the current leader of Fianna Fail.


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