Launch of new CAJ Northern Human Rights handbook 'Human Rights in Northern Ireland – the CAJ Handbook" was launched in Belfast on 21st January. Edited by Brice Dickson and Brian Gormally it is a fully comprehensive look at a wide variety of areas in a way which caters for activists, students and lawyers (e.g. there is an index of case references); as such it is a considerable achievement. The 26 chapters range from victims' rights, through the powers of the police and army, questioning, complaints against the police, prisoners' rights, immigration, processions and protests, the right to access information, privacy, equality, discrimination due to sex, religion and political opinion, disability, sexual orientation or age, mental disorder, family and sexual matters, children's rights, education, employment, housing, social security and environmental rights. The chapters are written by experts in their field and, to paraphrase the late Frankie Byrne on RTE Radio, even if the issues and problems dealt with are not yours, some day they may be. Hart Publishing, 2015, 676 pages, ISBN 978-1-84946-615-8. It retails at £22.50 and is available at No Alibis in Belfast and from CAJ (add postage).
CAJ has also launched a report on "The Apparatus of Impunity? Human rights violations and the Northern Ireland conflict: a narrative of official limitations on post-Agreement investigative mechanisms" which is available at www.caj.org.uk
At the CAJ AGM before Christmas, the following appointments were made: Chair, Louise Mallinder; Vice-Chair, Johnston Price; Treasurer, Cheryl Lawther; Membership secretary, Rory O'Connell; Minutes Secretary, Clare Dwyer; Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Patricia Lundy; and Editor of Just News, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. The CAJ annual report is available here.
Posters for Peace
INNATE's posters exploring different aspects of peace and related topics will be on display in Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts (corner of Duncairn Avenue and Antrim Road), Belfast from Wednesday 25th February through to Tuesday 10th March. They can be seen and downloaded. A supporting programme has also been organised as follows:
Tuesday 3rd March 12 noon – 2pm, jointly with Community Dialogue, Gender and Violence – a discussion, all welcome.
Wednesday 4th March at 7.30pm, Posters for Peace—an open space discussion. Discussion based on reactions to the posters. In Duncairn Centre exhibition space.
Monday 9th March, 7.30pm, Nonviolence training – campaigning as if you mean it, with Andreas Speck, long-time nonviolent activist, sharing his concept of nonviolence campaigning and training; this meeting will take place at MNI, 83 University Street, Belfast and not in Duncairn. Further details from INNATE firstname.lastname@example.org
Féile Bríde: Occupy the Imagination
Afri's Féile Bríde, organised in partnership with St Patrick's Missionary Society Kiltegan and Cairde Bríde, takes place on Saturday 7th February at the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare Town beginning at 11 am (with a prior gathering at St Brigid's Well, adjacent to the Irish national stud car park at 10.30 am, weather permitting). The title refers to imagining another world is possible – a world without war, a world of food for people and not for profit, a world where the stranger is welcome. The programme runs to 5.15pm. Speakers and resource people include Rita Minehan, Bruce Kent, Colin Archer, Emanuela Russo, Salome Mbugua, Rose Kelly and music by Imogen Gunner and friends. Full price €15 including lunch, tea and coffee, concession €12. See www.afri.ie for further details. You can book to Afri at 134 Phibsborough road, Dublin 7, ph 01 8827563/8827581 or online at feilebride2015.eventbrite.ie
Andreas Speck will be in Ireland at INNATE's invitation in early March for a variety of programme, including the talk on nonviolence campaigning and training listed above. He will be facilitating a strategising workshop for anti-fracking activists North of the border on Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th March, and a workshop on nonviolent direct action for anti-fracking activists in Manorhamilton (covering Leitrim/Fermanagh area, this one in cooperation with Afri) on Tuesday/ Wednesday evening 10th/11th March. Contact email@example.com for the Northern workshop and firstname.lastname@example.org for the Leitrim one.
No Fracking NI
With large areas of Northern Ireland under potential threat from Fracking, campaigners from No Fracking Northern Ireland (NFNI) are supporting local groups across the licensed areas to raise awareness and get organised. On the 7th and 8th of March strategising workshops and training will take place in Co. Antrim. Currently two sites are identified for drilling - one on the North Coast in the village of Ballinlea and the second is in the Woodburn Forest in Carrickfergus. Applications for petroleum licenses in Northern Ireland may be made at any time and are not subject to licensing rounds (in accordance with "the open door procedure" described in Article 3 (3) of the Hydrocarbons Directive 94/22/EC). NFNI are campaigning for a ban. For more information please contact: email@example.com
Licence 1: Co. Fermanagh/Tamboran. On the 11th August 2014, Minister Durkan concluded "that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply." Furthermore he said, "In arriving at this decision I believe I must proceed on the basis of a precautionary principle. On the 30th September DETI/ Minister Arlene Foster terminated Tamboran's License. Tamboran are bringing Judicial Reviews against these decisions.
Licence 2: Co. Antrim/InfraStrata/Woodburn Forest, Carrickfergus. InfraStrata has stated that it will be proceeding with an exploratory drill at a depth of 2000m, 400m uphill of North Woodburn Reservoir, Carrickfergus. The reservoirs in Woodburn Forest supply drinking water to Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, parts of Belfast, Islandmagee, Greenisland and Whitehead. Infrastrata have been granted 'permitted development rights' to come on site and start drilling at any time. Although InfraStrata have stated that they do not intend to carry out High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing at this well they do state on their website that they are hoping for a considerable amount of oil. Due to the potential threat this poses to so many people's drinking water it is imperative that people are made aware of this drill.
Licence 4: Co. Antrim/Rathlin Energy/Ballinlea License. Rathlin Energy has applied to drill an exploratory well at Ballinlea in the Rathlin Basin. This application includes hydraulic fracturing processes. As in the case of Fermanagh, the local community and the Northern Ireland general public have lodged both strong and logical objections to the application. The Planning Service has requested that Rathlin carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and that they take into account human health impacts as well as environmental impacts. These assessments have been submitted to Planning Service, a decision will be made soon as to whether Rathlin Energy can proceed.
Climate Bill deficiencies
Stop Climate Chaos welcomed the publication of the long-awaited Climate Action Bill in mid-January but described as "deeply disappointing" the Government's rejection of proposals by an Oireachtas committee to strengthen the Bill. According to the coalition of environment, overseas aid, youth and faith groups, three key recommendations of the Oireachtas environment committee, which held comprehensive hearings on the draft Bill and produced an all-party report, have been ignored; the Bill does not include the Government's own definition of low carbon, it doesn't guarantee the independence of the Climate Advisory Council, and it doesn't include the principle of climate justice - all recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee, chaired by Labour TD, Michael McCarthy.
The only substantive change from the draft Bill produced by Phil Hogan a year ago is a negative one - the Government has delayed the adoption of a national mitigation plan with sectoral policy measures by at least another two years. The Bill now goes to the Oireachtas for debate, scrutiny, amendment and approval. As the Government has ignored the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas environment committee, Stop Climate Chaos is calling on TDs and Senators to fix the Bill and pass it into law as quickly as possible. See www.stopclimatechaos.ie and also www.foe.ie
Shannonwatch on Russian, US flights
In a short statement on 1st February, Shannonwatch have said "The Irish Government and media appear to be in a panic about two Russian TU-95 bomber aircraft that flew down the west coast of Ireland at least 50 miles out to sea, and not through Irish sovereign airspace. A statement issued by the Irish Department of Defence said "non-controlled and non-notified flight activity by Russian aircraft is not acceptable". This same Department of Defence of a supposedly neutral Irish state has issued no such statements about the transit of almost two and half million US troops through Shannon airport since 2001, and provides Irish soldiers to guard US military aircraft at Shannon." Full article on the Shannonwatch website at www.shannonwatch.org
INCORE Summer School, MSc in Peace and Conflict
The International Summer School will run from 22nd-26th June 2015 at Magee Campus in Derry and will be run in partnership with the Clinton International Summer School. The INCORE Summer School provides a structured learning opportunity to analyse the dynamic and constantly changing field of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Deadline for early bird payment rate is 13t March. This year there are two courses to choose from: 1) Social Innovation, Technology and Peacebuilding, facilitated by Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Stephen Ryan and John Peto and 2) Peacemaking and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland, facilitated by Grainne Kelly and Dr. Brendan Lynn. More information and booking www.incore.ulst.ac.uk/courses/ss/
The MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies offers students a graduate programme within the context of a vibrant and culturally rich society emerging from conflict. Based within Ulster University's International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), the programme, now running for over 25 years, has attracted over 400 graduates from more than 30 countries. The Programme is located on the Magee campus of Ulster University. The one-year full-time programme consists of eight taught modules, of which five are compulsory and three are selected from a range of options. To obtain the MSc. the student also completes a 15,000 word dissertation. Further information at www.incore.ulst.ac.uk/courses/MA/
The Organic Centre, Rossinver
The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim promotes organic growing and sustainable living. The centre is a non profit organisation set up in 1995, with the aim of providing public education, training and information. It is located on a 19 acre site in Rossinver, Co Leitrim and offers 100 weekend courses on organic horticulture, gardening, green building, alternative energy, and artisan food production. The Centre is a recognised eco-tourism destination. Facilities include demonstration gardens &polytunnels, an orchard & soft fruit area with heritage varieties and an eco-shop selling organic seeds, garden tools, books, and seasonal vegetables.
This year The Organic Centre will celebrate its 20th Anniversary and we have several events planned throughout the year to raise funds for refurbishment of the Centre. The star speakers will be Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery Scholl), Mark Diacono (ex River Cottage), Charles Dowding (No Dig Method), Michael Kelly (GIY), Klaus Laitenberger, Neven Maguire, John and Sally McKenna, Fiann O'Nuallain (the Holistic Gardener) and Trevor Sargent. The anniversary programme will also include the annual Potato Day on March 14th with Trevor Sargent, Garden Party with Neven Maguire and Fiann O'Nuallain on July 12th and Apple Day and Harvest Festival 27th of September.
From March to October the Centre will host monthly GIY Sunday Afternoons at The Organic Centre for all the GIY groups and members in the North West and the wider public
On the course front, 2015 will see the return of the famous "Good Life" course with Hans and Gaby Wieland over the August bank holiday weekend. For the first time there will be collaboration with Mud and Wood to host a clay oven workshop. The most popular courses such as Growing in Polytunnels, Organic Gardening for Beginners, Cheese Making, Fermentation, Sourdough Baking, Beer Making and Basket Making and many more are back. Some of the most exciting new additions to this year's course programme are First Aid from the Garden with Fiann O'Nuallain, No Dig Garden with Charles Dowding, and Harvest Rainwater - Save Water Charges with Ollan Herr. There are week-long summer camps for children in August.
The Centre's seed catalogue continues to offer the largest range of organic seeds in Ireland. Also sold are a good selection of organic seed potatoes including some new blight resistant varieties such as Athlete, Bionica and Axona. Orders can be placed by post, online or by telephone.
Projects run by the Centre include a full-time course in organic horticulture at FETAC level 5 supported by FAS. In the past The Organic Centre has organised a cross-border schools programme and women's cross-community projects promoting peace through gardening together, funded by the Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and the IFI. It enjoys the support of a wide network of friends. The Members Scheme offers a range of benefits including free entry to gardens and open days, gardening advice, and 10% discount on shop & seed sales, and training courses. The online shop for quick and easy shopping is on the website at www.theorganiccentre.ie
The Centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm from March to November. Tours of the centre and workshops for groups can be booked. For more information ph 071-9854338, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.theorganiccentre.ie. You can also join the Organic Centre on facebook.
Call for artists on global warming
Irish peace organisation Afri has joined with the Choctaw people, who are renowned for their relationship of respect for the planet, to call on artists everywhere to help inspire urgent action and awareness on climate change and global warming. "We are calling on artists, musicians, poets, painters, writers, crafts people, designers, dancers and all creative souls everywhere to use their creative genius to awaken the super-power of world opinion. Imagine the impact, if artists and those who love art, those who love Earth were to rise up and make their voices heard with one clear message: Stop killing our planet… save our world." See www.afri.ie/news-and-events/climatechangecall/
Irish soldiers in Afghanistan inappropriate
The Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and Shannonwatch have expressed serious concerns that the Irish Government has decided to continue with the assignment of seven Irish soldiers to a NATO associated mission in Kabul, Afghanistan. They say it was a serious mistake by previous governments to send Irish troops to serve with the NATO ISAF occupation mission in Afghanistan from December 2001 up to 31 December 2014, because having Irish soldiers serving with this NATO occupation force is a clear breach of international laws and norms of neutrality. The Government cites UNSCR 1386 as justification for its decision but the UN itself has been in breach of its own charter by approving the subsequent military occupation of Afghanistan following the invasion and overthrow of the Afghan Government in October 2001 by a US led coalition that did not have UN Security Council to engage in this war of aggression.
PANA and Shannonwatch are also concerned that the decision by the present Government to assign seven Irish soldiers to the "new" so called Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan has not been approved by the Oireachtas because the Government uses the excuse that any mission of less than 12 soldiers does not need Dáil approval. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence should be asked to explain why and on what basis they have effectively abandoned Irish neutrality on this issue and on the continuing misuse of Shannon airport by the US military, without have received Dáil/Oireachtas approval to abandon Irish neutrality.
PANA and Shannonwatch continue "It is now well established that hundreds of prisoners were imprisoned under very extreme conditions by US-led forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, while Irish troops were serving in Kabul with ISAF. Dozens of these prisoners were tortured and several died while being so imprisoned, and at least one died while being tortured. The presence of Irish troops with NATO at this time makes Ireland indirectly complicit in these war crimes and torture."
"With the ending of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan on 31 December 2014, the present Irish Government had a good opportunity to end the inappropriate presence of Irish troops in Afghanistan, where they are in effect interfering in a civil war. From now on these Irish soldiers are going to increasingly vulnerable to attack by Afghan insurgent Taliban forces because the vast majority of foreign troops have now been withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the Taliban have been waging an increasingly effective war against the incumbent western installed government, just as they did during the pull out phase of the Russian occupation in the 1980s. There is no valid justification for the presence of Irish soldiers in Afghanistan, and this is most certainly not a peace keeping mission or a humanitarian mission. The risks to which these Irish soldiers are now being exposed is unacceptable." www.pana.ie and www.shannonwatch.org
Kerry Diocesan JPIC Committee
Some Catholic dioceses, e.g. Kerry, Raphoe, have Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) committees, the last term primarily concerning green issues. Kerry diocesan website has a Justice page at www.dioceseofkerry.ie which includes dates for the current month worth marking, plus suggested actions, and resources.
DDCI resources; How the World Works, Econowha?, Debt
New resources are available from the Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI):
1)'How the World Works 2' is an updated resource for Transition Year Teachers, suitable for TY Geography, History, Economics, and Religious Education. It can be downloaded from the website or if you want a paper copy, send DDCI your name and address and they ask for a contribution of €5 towards printing and postage costs.
2) 'Econowha? Part 2, A World in Crisis' is now online and encourages critical thinking skills to examine the current crisis we are living in from a social justice perspective. This section includes readings and blogs from guest bloggers on the themes of; the financial crisis, global debt slavery, tax justice, global financial institutions, and the power of social movements. Econowha? is a critical literacy tool for adult learners that brings a lot of different material together to aid the learning process.
3) DDCI has been working with community and youth alliance The Spectacle of Defiance and Hope to develop an education resource that deals with the Irish debt crisis. The resource is called 'The Irish Debt Crisis: What Happened?' and is suitable for use in adult and community education settings. The resource includes a workshop plan and toolkit of activities. The finishing touches are currently being put to this resource which will be available to download from early February.
New staff at WRI
Taking over as War Resisters' International Nonviolence Programme Worker in mid-February will be Andrew Dey and also joining, as a part-time staff person working on the Countering the Militarisation of Youth Programme, is Semih Sapmaz. Farewell, and many thanks, to Javier Gárate who is leaving the staff after ten years, he has been involved in providing programme input in Ireland. See www.wri-irg.org
After Dresden is a new play by Philip Orr, based on the WW2 prisoner of war diaries of Ray Davey, founder of the Corrymeela Community. Belvoir (pronounced 'beaver' for those from elsewhere – Ed) Players in Belfast are performing it from 30th April – 2nd May at 8pm, adults £9, concession £7. The box office is at 028 90491210, and the address is 94 Belvoir Drive, Belfast BT8 7FR, www.belvoirplayers.org
Brendan McAllister post
Brendan McAllister, among other things former director of Mediation Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner, has been appointed as a member of the UN Standby Team of Senior Mediation Experts for 2015/16 with a specialism in Process Design and also a portfolio on Gender and Inclusion. Technically, the post is under the Norwegian Refugee Council and he will be seconded to the UN's Department of Political Affairs.
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