Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride
Afri is organising a protest at Shannon Airport at 12 noon to 1pm on Sunday 15th March “to mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role.” It will be preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport, starting at 11.00am. Organised by Afri & supported by PANA. See www.afri.ie or Facebook.
A useful report on Afri’s February meeting on neutrality, which looked at the situation in Costa Rica, is on the Afri website.
Meanwhile Shannonwatch’s report on the court case against TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly (now adjourned to 10th March) can be found on their website.
Celebrating International Day of Peace, 21st September
Peace is more than the absence of war. If we broaden our perspective it is easy to see that peace involves all efforts to create a better world. Creating this culture of peace touches every aspect of our lives. It takes everyone’s involvement. We therefore need to work for peace in all spheres of human activity – peace within individuals in terms of personal peace and wellbeing; peace within society in terms of social justice, equality and freedom; and peace with the living earth in terms of how we use it, relate to it and protect it.
We are a loose alliance of individuals and organisations who want to make the International Day of Peace more widespread and more relevant in Northern Ireland. We also want to work with others throughout the island of Ireland and throughout the rest of the world. We want to see new life and vitality breathed into the practices of peace. The UN International Day of Peace is an ideal opportunity to celebrate what is being done to create and sustain a culture of peace in all its various aspects in Northern Ireland and throughout the world. We would like to encourage you to mark and celebrate your activities to create a better world in Northern Ireland on Peace Day in 2015.
Please let us know if you plan to do anything to celebrate International day of Peace in 2015. And if you would like to join our efforts to help promote the International day of Peace in Northern Ireland please contact John McClean at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to any of the people mentioned below.
Angila Chada, Springboard Opportunities; Rev David Latimer; Professor John Barry; John McClean, Citizens for Peace Outside and Within; Fr Martin Magill; Moya Henry, Reclaim the Agenda; Rob Fairmichael, INNATE; Willie Maxwell, Citizens for Peace Outside and Within.
VSI is seeking volunteers to join in over 500 international volunteer projects in Ireland and in over 40 countries worldwide. Many of the projects focus on peace and solidarity. More details from www.vsi.ie See for example here.
Togo, July - Caravan for non violence. A variety of projects in a small town to encourage a culture of non violence.
Germany, July/August - Maintenance work at a former Nazi training centre now a Red Cross museum and study on international human rights.
Uganda, April -International workcamp on reconciliation and rehabilitation of war survivors. Different activities to assist societies devastated by conflict to come to terms with their painful past and achieves sustainable peace and reconciliation.
Scotland, August - Assisting with the Just Festival in Edinburgh which is a Festival that seeks to awaken the heart of Peace and solidarity through intercultural performances and displays of theatre, music and dance.
Palestine -Helping local farmers with the olive harvest.
Peace project in Sri Lanka.
Making Peace project in Ukraine.
VSI (Voluntary Service International), part of SCI (Service Civil International), also has longer term volunteer opportunities. VSI, 30 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1, ph 01 – 8551011, Facebook page.
Pax Christi International - Peace Award goes to Colombia
The 2015 Pax Christi International Peace Award has been granted to the Women, Peace and Security Collective for Reflection and Action (Colectivo de Pensamiento y Acción Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad) in Colombia for making visible and encouraging the essential contribution of women to peacebuilding in their country and for their work to promote an ethical transformation of Colombian society as the path towards sustainable peace. Established in 1988, the Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence in different parts of the world.
Founded in October 2011, the Collective is a women’s network that currently brings together women from different social and professional backgrounds (religious, ex-combatants, indigenous, afro-descendants, journalists, academics, human rights defenders, union leaders, etc.), as well as organisations committed to a revolution in ethics as the basis for sustainable and lasting peace in Colombia. The Collective’s flagship initiative is the “Ethical Pact for a Country in Peace,” a civil society framework agreement for the ethical transformation of Colombia. This initiative points out that in order to achieve lasting peace, efforts beyond official peace talks between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will be necessary. The Pact is a 15-point plan promoting a series of value-based steps that Colombian society must undergo for sustainable peace. One highlight is the importance of an inclusive dialogue for peace where women’s participation is actively sought and encouraged. www.paxchristi.net
The time has come for Women's Power to Stop War!
This is the theme of WILPF, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, in its centenary year, and the theme of a major centennial conference at The Hague in April this year. See www.wilpfinternational.org for more details. [While there has been a WILPF group in Ireland in the past there is currently none.] The WILPF 2015 Manifesto is now available on the website and this Manifesto forms the political backbone of the International Conference and will be adopted officially at the Centennial Congress, see here.
The office of TIDES Training is now at Duncairn Complex, Duncairn Avenue, Belfast, BT14 6BP (behindthe Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts), ph028 90751686, e-mail email@example.com and the website is at www.tidestraining.org TIDES Training & Consultancy is an ethically based non-profit company which offers conflict management, community relations and mediation training.
Action for Global Divestment Day
Young Friends of the Earth together with People’s Climate Ireland held a demonstration on the Sean O’Casey Bridge outside the IFSC Dublin on Saturday 14th February to demand that Irish Institutions divest from fossil fuel industries, marking the launch of Ireland’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. Young Friends of the Earth and People’s Climate Ireland are demanding that Irish Institutions join the thousands of states, cities and institutions around the world that have divested from fossil fuel industries. Heather Mason, Friends of the Earth Activism Coordinator said, “Over 180 institutions worldwide have already removed more than $50 billion from fossil fuel investments. Irish institutions must follow this lead. Divesting from fossil fuels is the only way to ensure a sustainable, clean energy future for ourselves and future generations.” See www.foe.ie
European Commission criticises Irish climate policy
Stop Climate Chaos has said it is unsurprised by the European Commission’s findings that Ireland is failing to address climate change. In its ‘Country Report Ireland 2015’ the European Commission states that Ireland is likely to miss its EU 2020 target ‘by a wide margin’ and that climate-related policies are ‘insufficient’. See www.stopclimatechaos.ie and here also environmentalpillar.ie
Protect the North coast from oil and gas extraction
The Protect Our North Coast Group (PONC)needs support to help pay for professional Environmental Consultants to analyse and respond to the Environmental Impact Assessment report submitted recently by Rathlin Energy. You can help to stop this drill today by making apledge viaCrowdfunder if you can. The link is here: The licence area held by Rathlin Energy (onshore Rathlin Basin) covers most of the spectacular North Coast from Ballycastle in the East, to Magilligan in the West, and south to Garvagh. They have said if successful they would like to drill 4 wells every square mile for oil - many more willbe requiredifshale gas is to be extracted.
The proposed drill site in Ballinleais only 75m from the nearest house and there are 43 houses within half a mile of it. Research has shown that people living within half a mile of gas wells are at an increased risk of health impacts such as respiratory disorders. It wouldn't even be allowed in Fort Worth, Texas where the setback distance of wells from homes is 182m, or in Dallas Texas where it is 457m. There is no setback distance in Northern Ireland. No Fracking Northern Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org
See also piece from No Fracking Northern Ireland below.
Pakistani video on tolerance
The Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) have produced an enjoyable music video as a political commentary on the situation in the country and a prayer for peace and harmonious co-existence. See here and here See also www.peaceandsecularstudies.org
Peace News poster on Francis Sheehy Skeffington
A large, almost A2, poster by Emily Johns on Francis Sheehy Skeffington and his opposition to war, and stand for nonviolence, appears in the February-March issue of Peace News, the British magazine, www.peacenews.info
The Impacts of Fracking on Northern Ireland
Following conference at the Lough Erne Resort, Fermanagh, 20th February 2015
As oil and gas companies finalise plans to begin work in Co. Antrimrepresentatives from groups all over Northern Ireland will be attending a conference in Fermanagh to hear from experts of the risks of the introduction of this industry here.It goes without saying that No Fracking Northern Ireland are campaigning for an outright ban on this industry. Recently we have seen New York state banning Fracking, Scotland enacting a moratorium and the Welsh government have just declared they will do everything they can legally do to block this industry. It has even been banned in Denton, TX the birthplace of the industry.
Here in Northern Irelandin 2011 when the evidence was much less strong our Assembly voted for a moratorium that was never enacted. Since then the scientific knowledge of the effects on onshore unconventional oil and gas development has done nothing to comfort those opposed to its introduction in fact quite the opposite. Earlier scientific predictions and anecdotal evidence are now bolstered by empirical data, confirming that the public health risks from unconventional gas and oil extraction are real, the range of adverse impacts significant, and the negative economic consequences considerable. Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical and public health literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health Yet despite all of this Northern Ireland continues to stumble down the path of onshore oil and gas development.
Right now there are two drills pending both within Co. Antrim. At the site of the proposed drill by Rathlin Energy Ltd local people are increasingly worried that health concerns are not being taken seriously as there is no plan to undertake health impact monitoring.
One local resident, Brian Connolly, said, “This is a true insight into the nature of this company and how they regard the local community. We, or rather our public representatives, are being asked to accept the word of the company and that there will be no risks to health, nor dangers to the community, no threats to our well-being or that of the environment, just because they say so. Without proper independent monitoring we will be unable to prove that we have been adversely affected by their activities.They cannot then be regulated or shut down as no data will exist by which a decision of this nature can be taken.It is very clear from the quote above, that they do not feel we, the local community, warrant a proper monitoring of their activities.It is worse than farcical; it is a bare faced disregard for this community and downright insulting to those who live in the vicinity.”
At the proposed drill site by Infrastrata Ltd residents are concerned that this drill is being allowed to proceed via permitted development. Dawn Patterson from the group Protect our Coast and Glens has said "Permitted development is for temporary and non contentious work. Hundreds of people have contacted the NI Assemblywith concerns so this is proving contentious and it is difficult to argue that a 2000 m long string of concrete which remains underground for generations is a temporary work."
Strategic Planning treats the issue as one exploratory finite borehole, ignoring the wider changes in the land use. Infrastrata openly states on their website the asset of this site with estimated 40 million barrels of oil and considerably more within the rest of the license area.
The threat from the Fermanagh drill is also not yet over as Tamboran are in legal proceedings which may eventually cost the tax payer millions.
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Department for Regional Development DRDNI (NI Water), Department of the Environment (DoE) and the NI Assembly have promoted and approved a process that has its own dynamics and has the very real potential to industrialise large areas of Northern Ireland and cause irreparable damage which will be reaped by future generations: damage to the environment, to the reservoirs, to the ground our private water wells are in, on which our houses stand and where our trees currently grow to keep our air pure. On shore oil andgas production, even at the exploratory stages is increasingly linked with health issues, yet DETI has instigated an exploration programme for Northern Ireland without a health impact assessment.
Summary of licences in Northern Ireland:
According to DETI four active petroleum licenses were granted as follows:
- 1. PL2/10: Tamboran Resources Pty Limited; Lough Allen Basin – North
- 2. PL1/10: InfraStrata plc, Cairn Energy, Brigantes and Terrain Energy Ltd; Central Larne - Lough Neagh Basin.
- 3. PL5/10: Providence Resources plc; Rathlin Island. Providence withdrew from License recently.
- 4. PL3/10: Rathlin Energy Limited; Rathlin Basin; area covers parts of Antrim and Londonderry/Derry
- 5. In 2013, CHx applied for Lough Neagh basin area. License not granted.
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).
License 1: Co. Fermanagh/TamboranOn 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 and are due back in the high court in March 2015. See here
License 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 Fracturingat 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.
License 4: Co. Antrim/ Rathlin Energy/Ballinlea LicenseRathlin 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 requested that Rathlin carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and that they take into account human health impacts as well as environmental impacts. A decision will be made soon as to whether Rathlin Energy can proceed.
Residents are now studying the papers submitted and preparing a response. We note in the submission that theShale along the North Coast has been likened in Rathlin Energy’s planning application documentation, to the Bowland Shale in England (e.g.Lancashire), which is currently subject to applications for fracking.The document says about Ballinlea:
“2450m Carboniferous Visean Murlough Bay Formation is the equivalent to the Bowland Shale and is a possible source rock for the region. It is a potential target for shale gas development in the region.”
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