Peace Brigades International launched in Ireland
On 26th November the launch of Peace Brigades International - Ireland was held at the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin. There were over 100 attendees through the doors, all showing their support for PBI (Peace Brigades International) in Ireland and eager to listen to the visiting speakers. The event was opened by Dr Iain Atack of the Irish School of Ecumenics, who spoke about his experience as an international accompanier with PBI in the Sri Lanka project during the 1990's. This was followed by Yomaira Mendoza, a leader of the Afro-descendant community in the Curvaradó River Basin in northern Chocó, Colombia; Donald Hernández Palma, an environmental lawyer and human rights defender from Honduras; Ruth Mumbi Meshack who is a community mobiliser, and the founder and current National Coordinator of Bunge la Wamama, a women's chapter of Bunge la Mwananchi in Kenya. All three spoke about the situation for Human Rights Defenders on the ground in their countries and the relevance of PBI's work for them and their organisations. Mary Lawlor, Director of Front Line Defenders, also joined the meeting to speak about the EU guidelines on the protection of Human Rights Defenders in honour of the 10th anniversary of the EU guidelines which was celebrated this year.
Following the presentation, attendees were invited to visit a PBI photo exhibition entitled "Faces of the Struggle: close-ups of human rights defenders". This exhibition pays homage to the many Human Rights Defenders who PBI have accompanied over the last 30 years. PBI supports nonviolent approaches to peacebuilding and support for human rights.
Since 1981, Peace Brigades International has worked in eleven countries on four continents. While PBI was never involved with the situation in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, an assessment was held a few decades ago about possible involvement. PBI currently hasfield projectsin Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia,Kenya, Mexico andNepal and there are 16 formally organised ‘country’ (support) groups including PBI in Ireland. PBI-I has already been involved in organising fundraising events. PBI-I is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org and the website is at pbi-ireland.org which is linked to the international site.
Corrymeela: 50 years working in 2015, Open day
2015 sees the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Corrymeela Community in 1965. A wide range of events are planned marking half a century’s work. The current issue of ‘The Corrymeela Community’ magazine (Christmas 2014 edition), as well as looking at current work, gives a timeline of the development of Corrymeela’s involvements over this period, and an outline calendar of events for 2015. See here.
The Christmas open day at Corrymeela, Ballycastle is on Saturday, 13th December from 2pm – 4.30pm. All are warmly invited to the Ballycastle Centre for a day of fun, festivities, and merry-making and those attending can enjoy refreshments while listening to carols, or bring the children to see Santa in his grotto. See here.
Shannonwatch on a Vision not to be welcomed
Shannonwatch have noted the return to Shannon of Vision Airlines, contractors to the US military, and linked to the US government's "Air Bridge Program" which assisted the flow of military personnel, equipment and materiel needed to support the war in Afghanistan, and the continuing operations in Iraq. Shannonwatch go on to say “we know that the Vision aircraft seen at Shannon .... has flown in and out of RAF Brize Norton. This is home to the RAF's Strategic and Tactical Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refueling forces, as well as host to many lodger and reserve units. Coincidentally - or perhaps not - we've seen an increase in US aerial refuellers at Shannon in recent months. Might it be that our airport is now being used by the likes of Vision Airlines to once again provide air bridge and refuelling services for the CIA and other US government agencies operating "in the shadow world", outside the rule of international law? These are the type of questions our government and their law enforcement authorities should be answering. But they're not.” See here.
— Meanwhile TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace appeared at Ennis District Court on 3rd December. Shannonwatch has “expressed their disappointment that the State has decided to summons TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.... for peace actions, while at the same time failing to investigate complaints made about US military and other aircraft that may be in breach of international law.....The two deputies are adamant that they did not commit any offence however, and that they were simply there to do what the authorities would not do, which was to inspect two US military aircraft that may have been carrying weapons illegally.”www.shannonwatch.org
PANA, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, have pointed out that “Clare Daly and Mick Wallace are to be charged by the state in 1915 for seeking to ensure Irish law of the state is implemented by seeking to search US military planes. In fact they merely seek to support the programme for government agreed by the Fine Gael-Labour government which includes the following: "We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law.”www.pana.ie
EU, Irish tax policies drain Global South
A new report,Hidden Profits,published by 19 tax justice campaign groups across the EU,compares the performance of 15 EU governments on combating tax dodging and ensuring financial transparency globally. The report finds that, as a group, the EU is failing to address global tax dodging and shows Ireland scoring poorly in key areas. This includes the Irish government's failure to introduce a centralised public register of the real owners of companies and trusts, a key measure to combat financial secrecy on a global scale. Hidden Profitsshows that Ireland has not moved forward with requiring country-by-country financial reporting for multinational corporations. To date, itseems that Ireland will move on these issues only when it must move collectively.Ireland also scores poorly in promoting the interests of developing countries in tax treaties. For the full report see here.
Stop Climate Chaos on Lima talks
As the UN Climate talks got underway at the start of December in Lima, Peru, climate campaigners in Ireland called for much needed leadership during the two week meeting. Stop Climate Chaos warns that unless delegations from developed countries make significant steps forward the talks will not progress, and the possibilities of achieving a global agreement in Paris next year will be even further away. Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of 28 civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland plays its part in preventing runaway climate change. It was launched in 2007 and is the largest network of organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations. The members of SCC are: Afri, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Workers’ Cooperative, Concern, Cultivate, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Gorta, Just Forests, Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group (MEG), National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Progressio Ireland, Sustain West Cork, Trócaire, An Taisce, VITA and V.O.I.C.E. Further information is available at www.stopclimatechaos.ie. Follow SCC on Twitter @SCC_Ireland and on Facebook at:facebook.com/stopclimatechaosireland
Tools for Solidarity
Tools for Solidarity have sent their first container of machines, tools, and supporting materials to the Artisans Support and Training Centre (ASTC) in Uganda. Further details, and the current newsletter with much more news, are on the website at www.toolsforsolidarity.com
Dignity and Rights: a Framework for the Future conference
As we ‘go to press’ a major conference, Dignity and Rights: a Framework for the Future, is taking place in Belfast hosted by CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice and a number of other human rights and equality organisations. This brings together international experts and local leaders to examine how the core concept of human dignity can be put into practice in taking human rights forward together as a society. The vision for the event is very much developing a partnership approach based on taking human rights forward together as a society. See www.caj.org.uk
The Committee on the Administration (CAJ) and the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) have welcomed the Irish Government that it seeking to re-open the case it took against the UK in relation to the use of the “five interrogation techniques” inflicted on 14 men when internment was introduced in 1971. While these inter-state proceedings to the European Court of Human Rights were unprecedented they resulted in the Court finding in 1978 that the UK had carried out inhuman and degrading treatment – not torture – in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, it has since emerged from research carried out by the PFC and ‘The Torture Files’ documentary aired by RTE in June that facts were unknown to the European Court when it delivered its judgment 1978. These recently discovered documents suggest that the British Government withheld vital medical, legal and policy documents from the European court of Human Rights and the Irish Government in respect of the case taken to Europe by the Irish state alleging torture. See www.caj.org.uk and www.patfinucanecentre.org (under ‘Individual cases’)
Peace on the earth, Peace with the earth, Bangor
Everyone is warmly invited to a talk and civic conversation in Bangor Library (Co Down) on Thursday 11th December, 7.00 pm to 8.15 pm, facilitated by John Barry, North Down Councillor and John McClean, Citizens for Peace. The motivation behind this 'civic conversation' is to provide a space to discuss and explore some of the big questions of our time such as - How do we build a culture of peace? What are the connections between making peace with one another and making peace with the planet? Contact: email@example.com
Quiet Peacemakers @ Belfast City Hall
The final exhibition of Quiet Peacemakers portraits by Susan Hughes is on in the Belfast City Hall from Monday 15th December for a month. The exhibition which will be launched by Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon, is followed by a panel discussion. If wishing to attend the launch RSVP to Marie in the City Hall on 028 - 9027 0663 as places for the panel discussion are limited. See shudesigns.com/quiet-peacemakers
The Flag Dispute: Anatomy of a Protest
This detailed report (145 pages) from the Institute for Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast is available on their website in full or summary forms. Written by Paul Nolan, Dominic Bryan, Clare Dwyer, Katy Hayward, Katy Radford, and Peter Shirlow, it looks at the protests which began in December 2012 over the restriction on the number of days the Union flag would fly at Belfast City Hall. Two tentative recommendations include the need for “a review of the efficacy of single identity work - not its success in attracting numbers, but its success in moving people towards a reconciliation with those of the other tradition. “ and “the creation of a shared vision, a ‘people’s peace plan’. It is
striking that the flag dispute broke out at a time when the Assembly had no community relations policy.”
16 Days Against Gender Based Violence
The 16 Days Campaign runs from 25th November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10th December (Human Rights Day) rightfully stressing that gender-based violence is an international human rights violation. Participants are highlighting the systemic nature of gender-based violence and militarism which encourages inequality and discrimination and prioritises weapons spending over funding for quality education and healthcare and safe public spaces. The culture of militarism builds on and protects systems of power by controlling dissent and using violence to settle economic, political and social disputes. Militarism draws on and perpetuates patriarchal models of political, economic, and social domination of people by a small number of elites and privileges violent masculinity as acceptable behaviour. The 16 Days Campaign focus on the intersections of gender-based violence and militarism is an effort to work toward a more equitable and peaceful world. See 16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu
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