British drone warfare in Iraq An analysis of recent British drone strikes in Iraq in recent months appears in the June-July issue of Peace News and first appeared on the Drone Wars UK. In the six months to the end of March 2015 there were 202 British air strikes against ISIS in Iraq, about half and half by drones and Tornado aircraft. "Analysis of the strikes...show that far from being primarily for intelligence and surveillance purposes, as the MoD repeatedly insist, the UK's Reaper drones are actually engaged in missile strikes just as often as the UK's dedicated strike aircraft in Iraq." British Reaper drones have also been deployed in Syria but it would seem for intelligence gathering to enable military strikes there by 'coalition partners'.
Protect Our North Coast calls Rathlin Energy to account
Protect Our North Coast-PONC is being very active in taking up the issue of fracking and petroleum extraction in the area. Local residents and North Antrim political representatives gathered at Ballinlea Hall on the 29th April for a public meeting organised by Protect Our North Coast-PONC when all the speakers were local residents from Ballinlea and Stranocum. Various resolutions were passed by those present, including political representatives, and there was an unanimous call for David Montagu-Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Rathlin Energy Limited and Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd. to honour the commitment he made in June 2012 in Ballinlea when he stated the following: "Our ability to function profitably or commercially in Northern Ireland will depend more heavily on one thing than on any other and that is the support of the local communities in which we work. We also would not be able to function, nor would we try and function, if we are at odds with the local communities." Those present unanimously agreed that Rathlin Energy are at odds with the local communities of Ballinlea and the North Coast and called for them to respect the local community, honour their commitment and abandon their plans to drill. See more on the excellent and informative PONC website (which has a link for objecting to planning permission for Rathlin Energy).
AVP Basic training in Dublin
An Alternatives to Violence/AVP Basic Training Workshop takes place on Friday 26th June (5.30 - 8 p.m.), Saturday 27th (9.30 am - 7 pm) and Sunday 28th (9.30 am - 5 pm) in Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16. Book by phone: 086 792 12 59 or email: email@example.com Cost: € 20, limited to 20 places. 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.
Northern Ireland - Day of Reflection
The annual Day of Reflection takes place on Sunday 21st June this year (and can be marked then or thereabouts). 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 or contact Healing Through Remembering via that website.
Strengthen Irish Climate Bill
Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of 28 organisations in Ireland, is campaigning to get Minister Alan Kelly to strengthen the Climate Bill which goes to committee stage in the Dáil on 9th June. The greatest deficiency is that there are no binding targets – there are other faults - and Irish emissions are high and rising. You can sign the petition – immediately! - See also http://www.stopclimatechaos.ie
Meeting the challenge of climate change
"Meeting the challenge of climate change: From evidence to action " is the title of the conference taking place at Maynooth on 22nd (starting 4pm) – 23rd June. 2015 is a critical year in addressing the impending climate emergency and charting a path towards a more sustainable future, culminating in the UN Summit (COP21) in Paris in December. This major international conference is co-hosted by Trócaire, Maynooth University and St Patrick's College Maynooth and will bring together some of the world's leading voices on climate science, climate justice and climate activism. Keynote speakers will include Mary Robinson, Bill McKibben, environmental activist, author and co-founder of 350.org and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); panellists include Sean McDonagh and John Sweeney. Registration for the main auditorium is full but overspill tickets are available via the information site at The Trócaire climate justice site.
Irish given East Timorese award
The President of East Timor has conferred the 'Order of Timor-Leste' honour on Irish campaigners who helped the nation achieve independence thirteen years ago. East Timor was invaded by the armed forces of Indonesia in 1975; 190,000 Timorese lost their lives as a result of the illegal occupation. This represented close to one quarter of the population. The East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign was launched in 1992. Speaking at the ceremony in Dili, Tom Hyland, a former Dublin bus driver who became a leading campaigner and later the honorary Irish consul to East Timor, said "This award is a timely and just recognition of the work of Afri and Sean Steele in the cause of Timorese freedom. The work of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign was internationally significant and would not have been possible without the courageous work of activists like Sean, and people like Joe Murray from Afri. Their names are etched in the memory and history of this small nation." he said. The Afri website.
Women cross Korean border
Marking the 20th anniversary of International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament, a delegation of 30 international peacemakers, including Mairead Maguire and Ann Patterson from the Peace People, and Netsai Mushonga, Women Peacemaker Program's International Advisory Council Member, crossed the heavily militarised DMZ between North and South Korea by bus after being denied by authorities to walk across the border. Nobel laureate Máiread Maguire said there is a huge "desire for peace and reunification" and was part of the group of women from 15 different countries who made the crossing on 24th May, spending 4 days in the North and a further 3 days in the South. Groups of women on both sides of the border came out to welcome the group, carrying anti-war and pro-peace slogans. See Peace People website , WPP report and references here , and the Irish News 25/5/15.
Church of Ireland adopts eco charter
The Church of Ireland has adopted an Environmental Charter at its General Synod for use by all its parishes. It is hoped that the charter, which is based on one adopted by the Diocese of Cashel & Ossory in 2008, will help churches understand their role in environmental stewardship. It covers five areas: recognising and reducing waste, increasing environmental awareness, exercising leadership through environmental responsibility, identifying spiritually and practically with the developing world and influencing policy and the Church and State. Source: Eco-Congregation Ireland.
Widespread opposition to repeal of UK Human Rights Act
While there has been controversy internally in the Conservative party in Britain since the UK general election over how a possible repeal of the Human Rights Act might take place, there has been widespread opposition elsewhere. The heads of Amnesty International in the UK and Ireland have written to the British and Irish Prime Ministers highlighting "deep concern" that moves to repeal the UK Human Rights Act 1998 could undermine peace in Northern Ireland. Amnesty warns that the planned repeal by the UK government of the Human Rights Act 1998 "could have serious implications for Northern Ireland's peace settlement" and could undermine "public confidence in the new political and policing arrangements" which followed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Northern Ireland peace agreement obliged the UK to incorporate the European Convention of Human Rights into law in Northern Ireland, which was subsequently done through the Human Rights Act. The Northern Ireland Assembly can only make laws which are compatible with the Human Rights Act, a key safeguard in the region. http://www.amnesty.org.uk and http://www.amnesty.ie.
Basic Income summer forum, Dublin
You can get up to date with issues concerning basic income, internationally and at home, at the Basic Income Ireland 2015 summer forum, to be held from 11:00 to 4:00 on Saturday 13th June, with informal discussion afterwards. It is on at the Carmelite Community Centre, 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2. It's free of charge (donations accepted). See (Source: Feasta http://www.feasta.org)
Amnesty, Transitional Justice Seminar INCORE and the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) are organising a seminar entitled "Amnesty, Transitional Justice and the Judicialisation of Politics" by Professor Michael Humphrey (University of Sydney) and Estela Valverde (Macquarie University) on 19th June from 12pm to 1:30pm in Ulster University, Jordanstown Campus.
Implementing dealing with past, gender aspects of SHA
The May 2015 issue of Just News, the publication of CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice, has reports on the Model Implementation Bill for the aspects of the Stormont House agreement on dealing with the past, as well as on the recent conference on the topic. Catherine O'Rourke of the Transitional Justice Institute writes on developing gender principles for legislation and implementation – "The absence of a sustained gender dimension to official efforts to deal with the past reflects and echoes silos within civil society in the jurisdiction" she says, and speaks about an informal network working on principles and practical examples. See here.
Ireland's failure to tax environmental harm
The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 Irish environmental NGOs, is calling on the Irish government to address the issues raised in the draft Country Specific Recommendations for Ireland published by the European Commission. Spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, Charles Stanley-Smith said: "It is vital that the Irish government take heed of these concerns. Taxing pollution and other environmental ills is a 'win-win' for the government especially when public finances are stretched." The Environmental Pillar proposes that such actions should include:
The revision of carbon tax rates and the removal of carbon tax exemptions
Levies on incineration, thereby boosting recycling rates
Paying for electricity produced by domestic solar and wind energy
Removing tax incentives for peat-fired power plants,
Increasing the REFIT rate for anaerobic digesters to encourage the development of this renewable energy technology
Adopting new economic instruments, including deposit/refund schemes, to enforce the polluter pays principle, encourage waste prevention and to recover valuable resources, including levies on single use items (non-rechargeable batteries, single-use cutlery etc),
Pursuing a more aggressive green procurement policy within all government departments, on both a national and local level.
Creating a fund for waste prevention initiatives and new SME ventures using innovative solutions to reduce the use of raw materials, reusing/repairing products or recycling products into new commercial commodities.
Pax Christi World Assembly
Pax Christi's World Assembly and 70th anniversary celebrations took place in Bethlehem, Palestine, from 13th - 17th May and a Commitment was adopted, available on the website at http://www.paxchristi.net/ José Henríquez, Pax Christi Secretary General, was unable to be present as he was refused entry into Palestine/Israel by the Israeli authorities. Part of a statement adopted on Palestine reads "The World Assembly of Pax Christi urges all UN-member states to recognize the state of Palestine and to ban Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. The 160 participants in the Assembly of the international Catholic peace movement in Bethlehem/West Bank from 13th to 17th of May are deeply concerned about Israeli policies that deny the rights of the Palestinian people and preclude the possibility of a two state solution." More on the website.
Galtung Institute and Transcend courses of peace
To see upcoming courses and distance learning courses on peace and related topics see here and here The next Transcend Peace University term is from 20th July – 29th August with a choice of 18 courses.
British EU referendum question
The draft wording for a UK referendum on EU membership is already out, but here is Peter Emerson on how the question of British membership should be asked.
NI allegations of collusion
"Truly disturbing" allegations in a BBC documentary (Britain's Secret Terror Deals, Panorama, 28th May, see BBC iPlayer) that UK security forces colluded with loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland on a vast scale leading directly to the deaths of hundreds of people must be fully investigated, said Amnesty International. The programme dealt with how British security forces (army, MI5 and Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch) operated with thousands of agents and informants working inside paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, with many of these individuals directly involved in criminality and murder.
Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said: "Killing people targeted by the state, using intelligence provided by the state and shooting them with guns provided by the state - if all this is proven, we're not talking about a security policy, we're talking about a murder policy. There must now be a full, independent investigation into the scale of the policy where the police, army and MI5 worked with illegal paramilitary groups, resulting in the deaths of perhaps hundreds of people. "
SCM seeks part time coordinator
The Student Christian Movement (SCM, part of WSCF) is relaunching in Ireland and seeking a part-time coordinator for the year from the autumn, the job brief stipulates 500 hours development work for a stipend of €5,000, plus expenses. "We believe that faith and social justice cannot be separated. As Christians, we must be ready to be engaged in theological, political, and social issues. WSCF is a space for discussion and the sharing of ideas from different perspectives as young Christian students in an open-minded way." Applications need to be in by 16th June. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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