Belfast’s Cornerstone Community bows out
For almost 30 years now the Cornerstone Community has exercised a ministry of peace and reconciliation from its community house at 443/445 Springfield Road, Belfast. We have been able to make a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process and we are most grateful for people’s support and interest over the years. After much prayer and discernment, the Community has decided that it can no longer carry on this work. Consequently, Cornerstone Community will be dissolved on the 31st. March 2012. There will be a service of thanksgiving on 21st March at 7.30pm in Springfield Road Methodist Church, Belfast, to which everyone is very welcome.
Benchmarking peace in Northern Ireland
In an extremely comprehensive compilation of facts and figures pertaining to the peace and wellbeing of Northern Ireland, and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Paul Nolan has pulled together a work which will be a basic benchmark of progress – or lack of it – in building peace and inclusion in the years to come. Published by the Community Relations Council and available on their website and printed as ISBN 978 1 89827650 0, “Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report – Number One” (February 2012) weighs in at 186 pages, A4. It includes chapters on a general profile of Northern Ireland, the sense of security, equality, political progress, and cohesion and sharing. It is intended to update this profile annually. For CRC contacts see next item.
Community Relations Week in the North
In 2012 Community Relations Week will be held from Monday 14th May to Saturday 19th May. For the last ten years the Community Relations Council has co-ordinated Community Relations Week with events planned by a huge variety of voluntary and community groups, District Councils and other public bodies; in 2011 over 150 events were staged on community relations themes including exhibitions, festivals, cultural performances, debates and discussions. Those wishing to organise an event that could form part of the programme should complete an entry form.
This will need to be returned by 2nd April. Voluntary and community groups should note that any additional costs relating to a CR Week event may be eligible for grant aid from the CR/CD small grants scheme which opens in April. Community Relations Council, 6 Murray Street, Belfast, BT1 6DN, ph 028 9022 7500, www.community-relations.org.uk
Spread your wings with VSI
VSI is finalising its International Volunteer Projects for 2012. In early March there will be over 500 projects in over 50 countries worldwide. Many of the projects will have a peace theme including
Paths of Peace – maintaining mountain trails in the Dolomites, Austria in July
Peace and Non Violence in Sardinia – repairing and painting a peace centre and organising peace education activities with local children in July
Food not Bombs – promotion of the Food Not Bombs campaign in Helsinki, Finland in July.
More details from www.vsi.ie Voluntary Service International, 30 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1, ph 01 8551011.
Everyday objects transformed by the Conflict: HTR exhibition
This new exhibition and outreach programme from Healing Through Remembering (HTR) will be around a number of places in the next months. ‘Everyday Objects Transformed by the Conflict’ brings together a wide variety of views and experiences from the recent conflict in and about Northern Ireland; these diverse stories are told through a range of objects and their accompanying labels, written by those who submitted them. The exhibition does not aim to agree on a single version of history but rather to let people from various backgrounds speak for themselves – stories of resistance, peace, anxiety, loss, violence, humour, commemoration and hope. There will be associated workshops and talks to explore the issues raised.
The exhibition will tour the following locations: 6th March – 28th March, First Derry Presbyterian Church, Derry-Londonderry; 12th April – 25th May, Bell Architects, Main Street, Ballymoney, Co Antrim; 5th June – 28th June, Clones Library, Clones, Co Monaghan; 6th July – 21st July, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, Co Tyrone; 2nd August – 11th August, the exhibition is shared between two sites, St Mary’s College, Falls Road, Belfast and Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road, Belfast (it is recommended visitors go to both sites). You can view the exhibition online at www.eoexhibition.com Healing Through Remembering, Alexander House, 17a Ormeau Avenue, Belfast BT2 8HD, ph 028 90238844, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and web www.healingthroughremembering.org
Blessed are the peacemakers, Listening Day, Ballymena
Rural Community Network, in association with Churches Community Work Alliance, are organising a conference and workshop which will highlight the work churches are doing to encourage peace building within local communities. The conference will provide space for CCWA and RCN to listen to the concerns and barriers that churches and church congregations are facing when endeavouring to undertake peace-building work. This event will take place on Wednesday 14th March at Tullyglass Hotel, Ballymena; 9.30am Registration, 10.00am Start, 3.00pm Close. A number of guest speakers have been invited to share their experiences of community development and peace-building work: Derek Poole of CCWA, Rev. Robert Miller, Church of Ireland, Mervyn Ewing, Methodist Minister, and Father Sean Nolan, Roman Catholic Priest, will all give examples of the work they have done within a community context. This is one of a series of engagements all entitled ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ which RCN is organising between church and community throughout NI and the border counties. Places are limited: contact email@example.com or phone 028 867 66670 to register.
Irish Centre for Human Rights; summer schools, business and HR
Each year, the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) offers two summer school programmes - on Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law, and on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The week-long summer school programmes offer participants a unique chance to immerse themselves in two increasingly important areas of international criminal law and international human rights law, and to benefit from the knowledge of a panel of experts. This year the ICC Summer School takes place from 18th-22nd June, and the Minority Rights Summer School date is still to be determined. There is also a Summer School in Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy, run by The Huston School of Digital Media, NUI Galway, together with the ICHR, taking place from 6th – 13th July. Fuller details here.
ICHR also has a one day conference on Ireland and the United Nations Framework for Business and Human Rights taking place on 24th March at NUI Galway, co-organised with the School of Law, NUI This conference seeks to explore and analyse issues of law and policy for Ireland arising from the 2011 adoption by the United Nations of Professor John Ruggie’s framework for business and human rights. The framework emphasises a State’s duty to protect human rights, a corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the need to provide remedies to respond to violations of human rights by business. Details also on the website.
CAJ (Committee on the Administration of Justice) recently marked the culmination of its 30th anniversary year by inviting the new Director of the Public Prosecution Service, Barra McGrory QC to address its members and supporters. This well-attended event proved to be very successful. A transcript of Mr McGrory’s address will soon be available from the CAJ website, www.caj.org.uk CAJ has inputted into a number of crucial public consultations lately. In its response to the Draft Programme for Government, CAJ highlighted the need for all outstanding human rights and equality commitments from the Belfast/Good Friday agreement to be reflected in the Programme for Government.
In a joint submission with the Pat Finucane Centre to the Committee of Ministers, CAJ expressed concerns about both the Historical Enquiries Team and Police Ombudsman Northern Ireland. The submission formally requested the reopening of scrutiny by the Committee of Ministers of General Measures relating to the HET in the ‘McKerr group of cases.’ All of CAJ’s latest news is available on both its website www.caj.org.uk and CAJ twitter account
Shannonwatch: Labour leader u-turn
Shannonwatch have pointed out that Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s claim in the Dáil on 21st February that there is no evidence Shannon Airport has ever been used for renditions is a complete u-turn from the views he and the Labour Party expressed when in opposition. Up until he took ministerial office he demanded that the Irish government inspect suspect aircraft going through Shannon. Now he is denying the existence of evidence that the airport has been repeatedly involved in such human rights abuse. ".....Eamon Gilmore misled the Dáil and the Irish people when he said there is no evidence that Shannon or any other Irish airport has ever been used for this purpose” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. "As Mr Gilmore himself pointed out to the Dáil on 12 December 2007, a number of reports, including one from the Human Rights Commission, have stated that Shannon Airport has been used for the transiting of people who are, as he said "being ferreted away for the purpose of torture". In March 2006 Eamon Gilmore also highlighted a Council of Europe statement that the European Convention on Human Rights can be violated through an omission to act to stop such serious violations of human rights. "Not knowing is not good enough" said Mr Gilmore at the time.” To contact Shannonwatch phone 087 8225087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.shannonwatch.org
FOE-NI: Roads to ruin
Friends of the Earth in Northern Ireland reacted strongly to the announcement on 14th February of major road investment, singling out the A5 for particular criticism as this is not an improvement to an existing road but a new road. Friends of the Earth’s Northern Ireland Director, James Orr, said: “We accept a modest programme of investment may be needed to improve the existing A5 but to bulldoze a new road through good farmland and a sensitive landscape is senseless. This new A5 road is a road to nowhere. Even if was to be completed it will only link two villages – Newbuildings and Auchnacloy – hardly a strategic priority. Just think what half a billion could achieve if we invested it in a proper train and bus service and better provision for walking and cycling. We would have a fairer and fitter society and be economically stronger. Instead this Minister locks us into further dependency on imported petrol and siphons money away from where it is needed – clean, green sustainable transport.” Friends of the Earth’s submission to the A5 Public Inquiry can be found her.
De Borda news
On 31.1.2012 at the House of Lords launch of Defining Democracy (‘Defining Democracy – Voting Procedures in Decision-Making, Elections and Governance’, Springer, Heidelberg Dordrecht, London, New York, 2012), Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, described this latest work by Peter Emerson as “An extraordinary and quite remarkable cornucopia index of available [voting] systems.” In Dublin two weeks later, a copy was presented to President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin; he had been the guest speaker at the New Ireland Group’s The Other Talks in 1991, where he said the experiment in consensus which he had just witnessed should be “reported and repeated”. The Belfast launch will take place in the Europa Hotel on Tuesday 3rd April at 5.30 pm, as part of the (UK) Political Studies Association conference when the guest speaker will be Roy Garland, Ashgate has just published The Research Companion to War, Origin and Prevention, and this 600-page anthology contains a chapter from the de Borda Institute: Majority Rule – A Cause of War? Contact The de Borda Institute www.deborda.org and e-mail email@example.com
Faith in Non-Violence - FOR Scotland Summer Conference
The Fellowship of Reconciliation Scotland Summer Conference takes place from 6pm Friday 25th – 12.30pm Sunday 27th May at Tarfside, Angus, entitled 'Faith in Non-Violence'. Speakers on what makes for peace and reconciliation in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Full programme available on request. Non-refundable deposit of £10 required to secure a place. The venue is family friendly and the conference programme all age. All accompanied children come free - students half price. The cost for adults is £65 for the weekend (Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime); camping is possible - which costs £45. Location: St. Drostan’s Lodge, Tarfside, Glenesk, Angus DD9 7YX. Further information and application forms from: FOR Scotland Annual Conference, 9 Castle Street, Brechin, Angus DD9 6JW or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01356 622708.