Community Relations Week
Community Relations Week in Northern Ireland is being held this year from Monday 16th June to Sunday 22nd June, and as ever is a showcase for what groups and organisations are doing on good relations, reconciliation and cross-community ventures. This year's programme, on the theme Building a united community, contains around 170 very diverse events (and some later organised ones may not be listed). The published listing appears on the CRC website - events are listed by council area.
Covert policing and ensuring accountability
CAJ (Committee on the Administration of Justice) in partnership with the University of Ulster Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) will be hosting a seminar on Tuesday 1st July 2014 on "Covert Policing and Ensuring Accountability: Ten Years on from the Cory Collusion Inquiry Reports, where now?", taking place in the University of Ulster Belfast campus. This seminar-conference will explore the themes of covert policing, particularly the running of agents/informants and use of intelligence, and address contemporary and historic questions of human rights compliance and developing a framework to render such practices lawful and accountable.
The discussion will cover perspectives on past covert policing policies in Northern Ireland, and the extent to which they facilitated 'collusion'; it will highlight the powers of current accountability bodies including the Police Ombudsman and Policing Board, the effectiveness the post-Cory public inquires and explore questions of legal-ethical frameworks to regulate the use and conduct of informants and agents. The seminar will hear of the recent covert policing controversies in London and Germany, relating to the Stephen Lawrence family and 'National Socialist Underground' cases respectively; the seminar will also cover the growing issue of the use of intelligence evidence in 'exceptional' court proceedings and the growth of the 'national security' doctrine, which places many aspects of covert policing, past and present, beyond the reach of accountability bodies.
Speakers include Dr Louise Mallinder, Paul O'Connor, Daniel Holder, Dr Cheryl Lawther, Suresh Grover, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Carsten Ilius, Brian Gormally, Dr Michael Maguire, Yasmine Ahmed and Ryan Feeney. A light lunch will be provided and there is no charge for attending. To book a place RSVP by 20 June to CAJ: e-mail email@example.com or phone Liz McAleer on 028 90316000. www.caj.org.uk
Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland
'Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland' e-bulletin is an excellent way to keep right up to date with news and issues concerning fracking/hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, both at home and abroad. The bulletin appears twice a month, issued by Keep Ireland Fracking Free. Subscribe here where back issues are also available. [More fracking later in this news section]
Glencree news can be found at their website including the spring/summer edition of their newsletter. Current news includes the retirement of Ian White as International Programme Director, though he will continue some involvement in this area for the next couple of years. Further on international programme, nine years involvement with Haiti will finish this year and there are several study visits planned for people from Turkey to learn from the Irish peace process, and work relating to other areas, e.g. Israel/Palestine, continues. To mark forty years in existence Glencree plan to launch a publication in September documenting and sharing the learning from their programmes; there will be chapters from the individual programme leaders in which they reflect on the development of the work and the key lessons they have learnt. There has also been a recent scoping exercise in relation to work with Northern Ireland victims and survivors. Other projects, including the Women's Leadership Programme, continue, as has work on linking different programmes together. Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Glencree, Co. Wicklow, phone: 01 2829711.
AI on allegations of Garda-IRA collusion, British torture
Responding to allegations of Garda-IRA collusion in a number of Troubles-related killings, made in a BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme broadcast on 26th May, Patrick Corrigan, Programme Director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland, said: "At the time of the publication of the Smithwick Report, Amnesty International pointed out that there were outstanding allegations concerning wrongdoing by agents of the Irish state in other cases. The latest revelations, in the BBC Spotlight programme, underline our call for a new, over-arching mechanism to investigate human rights violations and abuses related to the Northern Ireland conflict, whether carried out by paramilitary groups or the security forces or as a result of collusion between the two, whether that involved loyalists, republicans, Irish or British state forces." Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "The information revealed in the BBC programme reinforces Amnesty International's call for the establishment of a single, comprehensive mechanism into thirty years of human rights abuse in Northern Ireland; and for Ireland to provide full cooperation with this inquiry. Accountability for past wrongdoing must be the foundation on which the future is built on both sides of the border in Ireland."
Amnesty published a report in September 2013, "Northern Ireland: Time to deal with the past", which found that the patchwork system of investigation that has been established in Northern Ireland has proven inadequate for the task of establishing the full truth about human rights violations and abuses committed by all sides during the three decades of political violence.
Amnesty International made the same point in relation to allegations in an RTÉ documentary ('The Torture Files', 4th June) that the UK Government sanctioned the use of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, that it underlined the failure to deliver a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the past. www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Northern-Ireland and www.amnesty.ie
INCORE: Korean War
INCORE's Accounts of the Conflict Seminar Series continues at 12.00 p.m. on Thursday 19th June 2014 in The MAC, 10 Exchange Street West, Belfast, BT1 2NJ with Ramsay Liem entitled 'The Art of Remembering: Evoking Memories and Legacies of the Korean War' (a war which never officially ended and is largely forgotten). A light lunch will be served after the seminar at 12.45p.m and that will followed at 1.15pm by a Screening of Ramsay Liem's 2013 film - Memory of a Forgotten War (37 minutes). RSVP by 12th June to Janet Farren, JE.Farren@ulster.ac.uk or ph 028 71675575.
Fracking protest in Dublin
On 4th June environmental and anti-fracking groups, including Young Friends of the Earth, No Fracking Dublin and Earth First Éire, protested outside the second annual Ireland Oil and Gas Summit taking place in Dublin. Waiters and waitresses had trays of "fracked" bottled water contaminated by precarious fracking chemicals. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Curtin, of No Fracking Dublin commented: "Basically they are looking at the most effective and easy ways to carve up the island. The Environmental Protection Agency have recently come out and said that Ireland is likely to miss its greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% by 2020. Yet these leaders are meeting to discuss how to dig up more of the emission-creating fuels? It doesn't match up."
Irresponsible speaker at 'Responsible' Business Awards
A gala awards ceremony intended to promote responsible business in Northern Ireland became mired in controversy because its keynote speaker is a prominent advocate of the fossil fuel industry. The Business in the Community Gala Awards were held on 5th June 2014 at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast to 'recognise and celebrate those companies who have shown a sustained commitment to corporate responsibility with a positive impact on their people, our planet and the places where they operate'.
The keynote speaker at this event was Susan Morrice, a geologist and a Director of Clannah Natural Energy and Belize Natural Energy. Ms Morrice is an advocate of extracting oil and gas from small fields that the major fossil fuel companies have overlooked. She has stated, "So we endeavour to extract every drop of it [oil and gas] from under the ground." She has applied for petroleum licenses in Northern Ireland which would give her company the right to 'frack'. Ms Morrice is closely associated with Educo leader Tony Quinn. There have been serious allegations of the misappropriation of Belize Natural Energy's finances by Mr Quinn. In condemning the decision by Business in the Community to choose Ms Morrice as their keynote speaker, Director of Friends of the Earth NI, James Orr, said: "It saddens us that this event has been so badly tainted by the decision to give a platform to an enthusiast for planet-trashing fossil fuel development." See here
Anti-fracking activists gatecrashed the event and handed out business cards parodying Susan Morrice's self promotion.
Forthspring: 5 Decades Project
'Interesting and informative'; 'excellent display of community history'; 'wonderful exhibition, so important our history is passed on'; 'excellent exhibition, a fine slice of oral history'; 'moving, funny and informative'; 'brilliant and informative insight into people's lives'; 'captures the times'. These are some of the comments on the 5 Decades exhibition on the conflict in the local, Springfield Road, area that was on display in Belfast City Hall during January and February. The stories are now online and can be found here In June a publication will be launched which will include many of the stories gathered by the project focusing on each of the 5 decades of the conflict from the 1960's onwards. For further information on the project contact: Johnston Price, 5 Decades Project, Forthspring Inter Community Group, 373-375 Springfield Road, Belfast BT12 7DG, ph 028 90313945.
WRI Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns
War Resisters International is working on a new edition of their invaluable Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns – watch this space - which will be split into five main sections: introduction to nonviolence, developing strategic campaigns, organising effective nonviolent action, case studies: stories and experiences, and training & exercises. There is also a glossary, a DIY section and an extensive list of other resources. WRI are involved in a crowdfunding exercise for part of the work, see here.
Gardaí in a twist as Shannon case dismissed, Shannon vigil
On Tuesday May 27th, two members of Shannonwatch appeared in Ennis District Court to answer a charge under the Public Order Act, Section 8. This related to an incident that took place on October 13th 2013. On that date, Dr. Edward Horgan and Tim Hourigan were at Shannon Airport prior to the start of Shannonwatch's monthly vigil, and had gone up to the airport for their regular routine of taking photographs of any suspicious aircraft and meeting others in the hotel for tea, before joining the vigil.
Arising from interaction with gardaí, Edward Horgan and Tim Hourigan were arrested, released, and subsequently charged with loitering, "which gave rise to a reasonable apprehension for the safety of persons or the safety of property or for the maintenance of the public peace." They were also accused of ignoring Garda directives to leave the vicinity. However after two hours of Garda evidence in court the case was dismissed by the judge, and it is quite clear that the gardaí involved were confused about the geography and boundaries of Shannon Airport and public and private spaces, and gave inconsistent instructions to the two defendants which, despite their (defendants') repeated requests were not clarified.
See here for the whole, shambolic story; in Shannonwatch's words it "showed how Gardai are targeting peace activists at Shannon instead of investigating violations of national and international law by CIA and US military personnel passing through the airport."
The next court case involving Margaretta D'Arcy is on 24th June at Ennis.
The next monthly Shannonwatch vigil is on Sunday 8th June at 2.00pm at the Shannon Airport Roundabout.
Healing Through Remembering: Reflection, exhibition
The annual Day of Reflection takes place on Saturday 21st June this year. It is a day for personal and private reflection on the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. A day to acknowledge the deep hurt and pain caused by the conflict, to reflect on our own attitudes, on what more we might have done or might still do, and to make a personal commitment that such loss should never be allowed to happen again. See here.
Meanwhile HTR's Everyday Objects Transformed by the Conflict exhibition is on at Unit 6 Lyndon Court, Queen Street, Belfast BT1 6EF - across from the old Athletic Stores building - until 29th July (Open Mondays – Wednesdays 10am – 4pm, Thursdays 10am – 7pm, Fridays 10am – 1pm). This is an exhibition of very varied everyday items transformed during the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. See here
Environment Sunday is on Sunday 8th June and while it may be too late to organise anything, you can look out for things happening. Eco-Congregation Ireland's vision is to see churches throughout Ireland adopt an eco approach to worship, lifestyle, property and finance management, community outreach and contact with the developing world. You can sign up to receive their useful monthly newsletter on the website at http://ecocongregationireland.com which includes mention of resources, events and other news.
Peace News Summer Camp
Those who fancy wandering to England for a summer peace gathering, or are that direction already, should consider the Peace News Summer Camp in Suffolk from 31st July to 4th August. It takes place at Peakhill Farm, Theberton, Suffolk IP16 4TG and there is more info online at www.peacenewscamp.info while tickets (at extremely reasonable prices) can be booked at http://tinyurl.com/pnsc2014bookings Peace News say "Join Peter Tatchell, Aneaka Kellay, Bruce Kent and activists from across Europe to mark the centenary of the First World War - and to declare peace on the 100th anniversary of the day that Britain declared war on Germany." Sessions include: Eyewitness Afghanistan / The Arms Trade and the First World War / Life After Capitalism / Chomsky's Politics / Make Cake, Not War / Why we don't need Sizewell / Making Nonviolent Revolution / Policing the Police / Mobilising to stop NATO! / Peace Studies at 40 / Women Resisting WW1 / Nonviolent Direct Action / Celebrating Elinor Ostrom.
The school around the corner has its lights and heating on
Dublin Friends of the Earth (Dublin FoE) , a local campaign group affiliated to Friends of the Earth Ireland, has argued that millions of Euros are being wasted in schools on the costs of heating, computers and lights, because there's no effective national strategy in place to make energy savings across the board – and free up money that's so desperately needed for teaching resources. Their submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education can be found here. And for more on Dublin FoE's campaign on public sector energy waste, see an opinion piece in the journal.ie.
Church and Peace
The Spring edition of Church and Peace's Newsletter includes information on Believers for Peace, belonging to different Abrahamic traditions, in Croatia and their Declaration which was launched in Rijeka in November; they intend to visit a number of towns and cities in the region during 2014. Also covered is the action by Orthodox monks in Kiev in January to try to intervene between sides in conflict in the street. Church and Peace, Ringstr. 14, 35641 Schöffengrund, ph +49 6445 5588, skype: gfcandp and website www.church-and-peace.org
Death of Gordon Kelly
We very much regret to record the death of Gordon Kelly of Belfast, gentle man, Quaker, and former active member of INNATE, who died in late May.
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