Trial of Two Anti-Pentagon Activists Resumes in Ireland

January 18th, 2023 - by Ed Horgan / Shannonwatch

SEd Horgan stands trial for nonviolent protest.

Daily Report on Trial of Dan Dowling
And Edward Horgan: Day 4


DUBLIN (January 17, 2023) — Over the course of the trial of peace activists Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling we will provide daily updates here. We encourage anyone who can attend in support to go to the court.
See our pre-trial press release here.

Day 4: January 17th
Irish Defence Forces Private Purtill was the first prosecution witness today.  He was one of the three armed soldiers who were guarding two US Navy aircraft at Shannon Airport on 25th April 2017 when the alleged graffiti writing on one of the aircraft occurred. No one seems to know yet how the two peace activists managed to get right up to the closely guarded aircraft without been spotted.

Issues raised by defence cross-examination included the similarity between the statements by Private Purtil and Army Sergeant Mulvane. Private Purtil also confirmed on cross-examination that Edward Horgan was handcuffed at the airport, but he did not know the name of the Garda who applied the handcuffs.

Next prosecution witness was Garda Carmel O’Malley. She was the Garda member in charge of the combined Army / Garda security detachment. Under the Aid To The Civil Power regulations the Garda with such a detachment is in charge as the representative of the civil authority, as the role of the army is to assist this civil authority.

She was also cross-examined by defence on the issue of handcuffing, and she confirmed that she had handcuffed Dan Dowling and one of her male colleagues handcuffed Edward Horgan. Garda O’Mallley also confirmed that she had formally arrested both defendants at Shannon Airport after they had first been detained by the army personnel. She then described their transport to Shannon Garda Station where they were processed by the Garda Member in Charge.

This handcuffing trail led to the next witness, Garda Gorman who was also the Exhibits Officer for this case. He arrived at Shannon Garda station after the incident had unfolded and when questioned by Defence admitted that Edward Horgan had been handcuffed but was not sure whether it was he or another Garda who had handcuffed him.

A number of prosecution witnesses are having trouble remembering details of the events of 25th April 2017 almost 6 years ago.

Garda Gorman also gave evidence on the list of exhibits. One item of interest was a 32 page document known as the Blue Folder. Edward Horgan had been carrying this folder with him when he entered the airport and when he was arrested he handed the folder to Garda Carmel O’Malley and asked her to retain it as evidence.

The folder was entitled ‘List of Children Killed in Middle East Wars’, and contained the names of about 1,000 children. Garda O’Malley handed the folder back to Edward Horgan, and when he was transported to the Garda Station the folder found its way into the list of exhibits. We are likely to be hearing more about this folder.

The next Prosecution witness was Detective Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan who was the main investigating officer for this case. There was quite a bit of discussion on the map of the airport produced by Garda Walton from the mapping unit in Dublin. The boundary fence was also discussed as were the taxiways and runways, and these issues are likely to continue to be of importance.

Dan Dowling then began cross-examination of Detective Garda O’Hagan. Questions were asked about the thermal imaging camera that recorded some of the incident and was shown in the court last Friday. There were questions and some answers also on the markers that were found and whether any link was established between the markers found and the graffiti on the aircraft.

No such link was found. Dan Dowling asked that an excerpt be played from the footage of the Detective Sergeant’s interview with him. As it was now coming close to 4.30 it was decided to show this piece of the video tomorrow morning. Cross-examining of Detective Sergeant O’Hagan will continue then also.

The trial will continue on Wednesday 18th Jan at 11am.

Day 3: January 13
The day moved slowly, beginning with discussion without jury on projected length of trial. it looks like next week will be moving slowly also; Judge Baxter has other commitments all day Monday so next week’s sessions will only begin on Tuesday at 11.30 and the starting time for the remaining days of next week are also likely to begin at 11.30 also. With this schedule it is now likely that the case may not finish next week and drag on into the following week.

The proceedings saw Retired Army Sergeant David Mulvaney back on the witness stand, being cross examined by both defendants. The only video evidence available of the incident was a poor-quality thermal imaging CCTV video that the prosecution had decided not use in evidence. However, at the request of Edward Horgan this video was played in court today.

In spite of its poor quality, it did demonstrate that the intruders had approached the so-called taxiway where the aircraft involved in the incident was parked from a northerly direction. It also raised other issues with regard to the incident itself.

There were some legal discussions with the judge in the absence of the jury on a number of issues, and Sergeant Mulvaney was questioned by defendant Edward Horgan on similarities between his written statements and those of his colleague Private Eric Purtill.

The next witness on the stand was Garda Enda Coughlan. Among other things he was acting as exhibits officer on the night of  the incident (25thApril 2017), as well as being sent to Shannon Airport during the incident. He stated that he was called to the airport after the arrests of the defendants and drove Dan Dowling back to the station.

The items taken from the defendants and logged that night were exhibited and shown one by one. In cross examination he was asked whether the defendants were handcuffed and whether this was normal. He said the thought they were, even though he was not clear about meeting the defendants at the airport. and that it was not unusual. He also did not seem to be clear about the function of a taxiway in an airport.

The trial will continue on Tuesday 17th Jan at 11.30.

Day 2: January 12th
Yesterday’s legal discussions concerned the failure of the prosecution to produce the pilot of the aircraft that was allegedly damaged, even though his statement of evidence was included in the book of evidence. This and other such matters with regard to the prosecution evidence are likely to be ongoing issues in this case.

The defence case made further progress today at the Dublin Circuit Court with a number of witnesses for prosecution on the stand including a mapping expert from the section.

The maps he produced of Shannon Airport were not to the liking of the two defendants and they made this known in their cross-examinations. He was followed by another expert witness from the Garda crime scene unit at Ennis, Co Clare, who seemed to have been unable to establish the exact wording of the alleged graffiti that was on the alleged US Navy Aircraft at Shannon Airport on 25th April 2017.

There seems to be some significant differences between prosecution witnesses as to whether the aircraft in question was US Navy, or US Air Force. Since it was just a normal looking Boeing 737 aircraft, like most of the Ryanair fleet, with no markings except the four numbers 5829 on its tail, the confusion is understandable.

The Irish Defence Forces Sergeant (now retired) who was in charge of the army detachment at Shannon on the night was the next witness. This is an important witness as his evidence and cross-examination took up quite a bit of time in the afternoon and some discussions in the absence of the jury.

These discussions involved whether a Shannon Airport security thermal CCTV video should be played to the court including to this witness and to the jury. The prosecution had decided not to use this video for their side of the case presumably because they reckoned it would not benefit the prosecution case, and for the same reasons the defence were quiet keen to have the video played as it is likely to be advantageous to the defence.

After quite a bit of discussion Judge Martina Baxter ruled that the video should be played. This will most likely occur tomorrow morning.

Day 1: January 11th
The case got off today at the Dublin Circuit Court with court president Judge Patricia Ryan empanelling a jury for the case after a large call over of other cases. Judge Martina Baxter was assigned to the preside over the case, in Court 21.

There were discussions in the absense of the jury on legal matters, which took up the rest of the afternoon.

The defendants, Dan and Edward, have told us that they are pleased so far with how things have gone. The court resumes in the morning (12th) at 10.30 in court 21.

Barrister Jane McCudden represents the prosecution.