Shannon: Two TDs found guilty, another inspection attempt
Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace were found guilty on 22nd March by the court in Ennis of breaching Shannon airport rules, the judge saying that 1994 airport bylaws applied in this case. They had tried to inspect US planes at Shannon Airport on 22nd July 2014. The judge imposed a €1,000 fine on each of the two charges for both TDs and jail for 30 days if the fine is not paid - both Daly and Wallace have said they have no intention of paying.
"The court accepted without qualification the knowledge and expertise of the witnesses who outlined serious breaches of neutrality and other laws at Shannon." said Clare Daly. "And let's remember the details of this evidence as presented to the court. There was evidence of guns on military planes, of soldiers going to war through a country that claims to be neutral, of CIA rendition planes, and of ongoing refusals to inspect these planes. The judge accepted that Mick and I have been obstructed, sidetracked and ignored in our efforts to discover the truth about Shannon. Yet in sentencing us he took an extremely narrow of the law. He effectively admitted that his hands were tied, and he refused to deal with all the evidence presented to him." "We were not breaching the peace when we went over a fence at Shannon" said Mick Wallace. "We were trying to promote peace while the government are facilitating war."
Shannonwatch believe that Mick Wallace and Clare Daly have been utterly vindicated in the action they took. "We have spent years looking for answers to our questions about the military planes passing through Shannon." said spokesperson John Lannon. "Now two TDs who tried to get the answers for us have been told they have 30 days to pay fines imposed or face prison....We have become an integral part of a militarised US policy that causes more conflict than it resolves".
A few days before the above court case, on 18th April, Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace and Shannonwatch was detained at Shannon Airport as a result of his attempt to search one of four US military Hercules C-130s at the airport. He informed Gardai that he went to search those four military aircraft because he had absolutely no doubt that some of those planes were carrying weapons and explosives in breach of Irish neutrality and US Government assurances to the contrary. The Gardai are preparing a file and he is likely to be charged. Meanwhile Shannonwatch have pointed out that Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan revealed in the Dáil (replying to a question from Clare Daly) that the US is granted blanket permission for overflights of Ireland by unarmed military aircraft; numbers of flights are provided but no details. See www.shannonwatch.org
Corrymeela: Aperture Festival, 31st July – 2nd August
Corrymeela is celebrating 50 years of peacemaking this year with a summer festival entitled Aperture – 'a space through which light travels'. This takes place from Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August at the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle and is a festival of diversity, art, debate, politics, faith, music and celebration. There will be poets, musicians, politicians, circus acts, theologians, debates, games, food and surprises/unexpected opportunities with three full days of programme which will be geared to the needs of families. Local and international peace building will be celebrated and "We will celebrate our common ground and our differences". The full festival line up will be on the website in due course. Ticket prices (which does not include camping or accommodation) range from a standard 3-day single ticket for £25 (plus small booking fee in all cases), or family ticket for 4 people at £50, single adult tickets are £7.50 on the Friday and £12.50 on Saturday and Sunday. Book online here.
Afri Famine Walk: Food sovereignty, Global warming, Militarism
This themed, commemorative 11-mile walk (for a real famine walk in 1849) takes place on Saturday, 16th May 2015 from Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo with the title "Food sovereignty, Global warming and Resisting Militarism". Registration is in Louisburgh from 12.45pm with the walk beginning at 1.30pm. The walk leaders this year are Abjata Khalif (Kenya), Maitet Ledesma (Philippines) and Sharon Staples (Wales) with music by RoJ Whelan. Those attending should park cars in Louisburgh – there is no parking available at Delphi Lodge – a shuttle bus will be provided. Afri asks participants to raise at least €20 in sponsorship to help continue its work in this its 40th anniversary year. There will be music and a gathering in Louisburgh in the evening. Further details at www.afri.ie or phone 01 8827563 or register online.
Food Sovereignty Assembly, Co Mayo
The Food Sovereignty Assembly 2015, "A New Vision for Food and Agriculture", takes place at the Mill Times Hotel, Westport, Co. Mayo on Friday 15th May 2015, from 11am – 6pm. Admission is free but booking essential. This is about building a vision for a new direction for food and agriculture in Ireland and beyond including how food is produced, distributed, how our commons are managed, and who shapes public policies; "On the ground people are already putting into practice alternatives which offer a really sustainable future for our people and our planet." Tea/coffee will be provided – lunch not included. Please confirm attendance by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01 8827563. Organised by Afri (more information at www.afri.ie ) and Food Sovereignty Ireland.
Community Relations Week in September
Despite cuts, the Community Relations Council, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is determined to continue its efforts to raise the profile of community relations work in Northern Ireland and to encourage others in civic society to become involved in building a united community. Community Relations Week will continue this year, but later, beginning on Monday 28th September, with media launches the previous week. Entry forms will be available shortly on the CRC website and from a number of agencies with a deadline of 30th June. Appropriate events may be eligible for small grant support from CRC's Community Relations and Cultural Diversity Grant Scheme for which a separate application needs to be made. Grant applications are available in the normal way from the CRC website www.nicrc.org.uk CRC would also like to encourage cultural groups to take part to encourage respect and understanding of cultural diversity.
INNATE and Veterans for Peace attend Belfast army recruitment
Independently, both INNATE and Veterans for Peace (VfP) were present at the late April two-day British armed forces recruitment days at the Kings Hall in Belfast. INNATE members gave out around 450 leaflets at the entrance gate entitled "10 reasons to think carefully before joining the British Army or armed forces....", see here. A member of Veterans for Peace spoke to those present inside the fair (civilians attending and armed forces personnel) and gave out VfP material and was, after a while, escorted out of the fair for being a 'disruptive influence'. VfP materials which were confiscated were returned when the member concerned was ejected.
Alternatives to Violence Project workshops in Dublin
Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is currently looking for volunteers to be trained to run workshops in prisons and communities throughout the country. AVP is a volunteer movement involving an experiential process where people share and learn peace building skills to live a life of non violence whether in their personal life, at work or in their community. If you are working with young people or in communities where there is conflict, it can really help you make a difference. Facilitating workshops is also a very rewarding experience. There are still a few places left for the next basic workshop, 8th -10th May, in Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, and also for Wheatfield Prison, 15th – 17th May. For more information, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Silence at the Dáil! Global Day Against Military Spending (GDAMS) on 13th April was marked in Dublin with a street meditation outside the Dáil in Kildare Street, to draw attention to the vast expenditure on armaments and resultant waste. It was organised by Triratna Buddhist Community email@example.com facebook Green Dharma Dublin and supported by Afri www.afri.ie
CCI warn of effects of forest fires in Ukraine, Belarus
Chernobyl Children International issued a press release on 30th April warning about huge forest fires spreading towards the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, in particular being concerned about the very real risk of radioactive contamination spreading across Ukraine and southern Belarus causing further damage to the already fragile land and population in the region. "Emergency services are battling to contain Ukraine's largest forest fire since 1992 in efforts to prevent the blaze spreading towards the highly radioactive 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl." ".....when the land burns, the radioactivity is reactivated and redistributed into the ecosystem." See here.
Protect Our North Coast organise
Rathlin Energy Ltd has applied to the Planning Service to drill, and undertake testing of, an oil/gas exploration well at a depth of 2700m into the shale layer (Murlough Bay formation) at 49 Ballinlea Rd. in Co. Antrim—half-way between Ballintoy Harbour and the Dark Hedges, on Northern Ireland's increasingly popular 'Game of Thrones' tourist trail. The licence area (onshore Rathlin Basin) covers most of the spectacular North Coast from Ballycastle in the East, to Magilligan in the West, and south to Garvagh. The proposed well site is located just 7 miles from the Giant's Causeway, not far from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated sites. Local residents and Protect Our North Coast (PONC) members are concerned about the potential impacts this well could have on public health. Website (PONC) Twitter @PONC_NI. #ProtectOurNorthCoast
NGOs call for change of EU bioenergy policies
Irish environmental and development NGOs have asked for fundamental reform of all bioenergy policies following the European Parliament confirming a deal that limits the amount of crop-based biofuels that can count towards renewable energy targets in 2020. The Environmental Pillar says "Beyond transport, the EU will need to fundamentally redesign its policy on bioenergy for 2030. A coalition of ten international environmental and development NGOs published ... a paper highlighting key policy changes needed to promote sustainable bioenergy practices and avoid further negative impacts by bioenergy and a repeat of the biofuels fiasco. These include a cap on all bioenergy in the renewable energy mix, environmental and social sustainability safeguards and an end to the zero accounting of carbon emissions from bioenergy." See environmentalpillar.ie
Positive Money at The Open Source 2015, Belfast
Over the three days of Open Source at The Big Table, Lower Garfield Street, Belfast, Positive Money NI will be engaging with shoppers and workers on Belfast's Royal Avenue. A team of volunteers wearing high visibility vests will approach people and ask 'Do you know where money comes from?' Positive Money NI are also facilitating a workshop on Sunday 10th May at 1pm for anyone who would like to know more about where money comes from. www.opensourceni.com
Peace News Summer Camp: On Common Ground
For those who fancy spreading their wings a bit, the Peace News summer camp takes place near Shrewsbury, England from 30th July – 3rd August with a family-friendly wide variety of workshops, skills, food, fun, and activities for kids and families. The camp costs £20 - £100 depending on income, and food £6 - £12 a day for over-14s. For more information see www.peacenews.info
Belfast-born medic runs rings around White House
A Belfast-born doctor, Dr David Nicholl ran ten laps of the White House in Washington in an orange jumpsuit and chains on Sunday 19th April to raise awareness of the plight of Guantánamo detainee Shaker Aamer, a former UK resident who has been held without charge or trial at the infamous Guantánamo detention centre for over 13 years. He has the backing of the detained man's family for the run as efforts intensify to secure either a fair trial or an immediate release for 46-year-old Aamer. Aamer is the last of the UK nationals and residents still held at the notorious detention centre.
Via his lawyers, Aamer has alleged he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings, while held in secret US detention in Afghanistan in early 2002. He says that, as well as US officials, men claiming to be MI5 officers were present at interrogations during which his head was "repeatedly banged so hard against a wall that it bounced". Aamer has also repeatedly alleged that he has been tortured and otherwise ill-treated at Guantánamo. According to his lawyers, Aamer has been the subject of hundreds of "Forcible Cell Extractions" at the camp, where a team of guards in riot gear forcibly remove a detainee from their cell. Aamer speaks fluent English and his lawyers understand he has been involved in protesting against conditions at the camp, including participating in hunger strikes and speaking out on behalf of other detainees. They believe he has been subjected to prolonged isolation and frequent ill-treatment as punishment for his protests over his indefinite detention.
122 men remain at Guantánamo. Over 600 detainees have been transferred from Guantánamo to other countries since 2002 without being the subject of criminal charges. Nine detainees have died in custody in Guantánamo. Guantánamo was earmarked for closure by January 2010 at the latest by President Obama shortly after his inauguration as President in January 2009.
Last year Amnesty launched a global Stop Torture campaign. Details at Amnesty NI on Twitter: @AmnestyNI
Whistleblowers, Activism and the Alternative Media
acTVism Munich published a video of an informational event from earlier this year with Prof. Noam Chomsky (MIT), Annie Machon (former MI5 Intelligence Officer) and Paul Jay (founder and senior editor of the Real News Network) in Munich. The theme of the of the event: "The significance of Whistleblowers, Activism & the Alternative Media in the 21st Century". You will find this video here.
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