Knowing the (oil) drill: Trees at Woodburn Forest felled Woodburn Forest is in a water catchment area beside a reservoir (North Woodburn, close to Carrickfergus) supplying water to a water treatment works (Dorisland) which in turn supplies water to 131,000 people in Belfast, Larne, Carrickfergus, Whitehead and Newtownabbey. NI Water has leased land in the forest to an oil company (Infrastrata) to drill a petroleum exploration well just 380 metres from the reservoir. No planning permission was required. NI Water have also agreed to lease the land to the company for up to 50 years, with Infrastrata having the right to drill multiple production wells on the site and to reinject petroleum and other unnamed fluids into the site and under site and other parts of NI Water premises. From Monday morning 15th February locals and Stop the Drill campaigners gathered and blocked the gate preventing contractors going onsite. On Thursday 18th February Infrastrata came on site and protesters were cleared out of the way by police. Trees were felled. There was behaviour by the police which protesters and bystanders felt was heavy-handed.
Stop The Drill is a group of concerned citizens who have been campaigning to protect the Woodburn Forest and Reservoirs over the past two years. Stop the Drill believes the trees were felled to clear the ground before the bird nesting season and that Infrastrata will only be back when they have approval for their Waste Management Plan. Stop the Drill had an expert review Infrastrata's Waste Management Plan and this was submitted to Mid and East Antrim Planning (M&EAP) on 24th February as its response to the public consultation. This expert review was achieved through donations to a crowdfunder appeal. The group say the Waste Management Plan is riddled with omissions and three key documents which were necessary to fully evaluate the plan were not made available during the consultation. On the face of it they say the Waste Management Plan is unapprovable. The council will consider the Waste Management Plan on 7th March; the group are calling for the public to attend the Braid, Ballymena from 6.30pm. A bus will be leaving from Carrickfergus. Contact email@example.com to book a seat. See also www.stopthedrillcampaign.com
VSI Peace Projects 2016
There are over 500 International Volunteer Projects available through VSI (Voluntary Service International) and SCI (Service Civil International) this year. Many have a peace related theme. Volunteers are needed for a Food not Bombs project in Finland in July; there are two Paths for Peace projects in the Austrian Dolomites in July; a study project on World War 2 at a Jewish graveyard project in Western Ukraine in July; six projects at former concentration camps in Germany. More details at www.vsi.ie
Corrymeela move Belfast office
Corrymeela's Belfast office has moved to the MNI/Mediation Northern Ireland building at 83 University Street, BT7 1HP. The Corrymeela Belfast office phone number stays the same, ph 028 90508080, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and www.corrymeela.org
Afri Famine Walk, 21st May
Afri's Famine Walk in Co Mayo, from Doolough to Louisburgh, Co May, is on Saturday 21st May this year. This commemorates an infamous walk in 1849 when numerous people perished as they sought relief. Further details in due course on the Afri website at www.afri.ie Meanwhile a short film on Afri's Féile Bríde in February of this year is available when the topic was climate change.
Irish Centre for Human Rights; ICC, film, summer schools
The Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR), Galway, summer school on the International Criminal Court takes place over five days and includes intensive lectures by leading specialists on the subject; the dates for this year's ICC Summer School are 27th June 27 to 1st July; see www.nuigalway.ie Meanwhile the Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy (CHRA) summer school brings together students and professionals from all over the world involved in the fields of film, digital media and human right to reflect on the use of film and video advocacy as an instrument for enhancing human rights awareness on critical social, political and environmental issues, and to influence change. This takes place from 16th – 25th June; see www.chra.ie for further details.
Cork Mayor visits Chernobyl
At the start of February, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Chris O'Leary, was (as part of an Irish civic delegation to the Chernobyl affected regions) briefed on the progress of the gigantic €1.5 billion steel and concrete arch - or "sarcophagus" that covers the damaged reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The Lord Mayor was accompanied by the Chief Executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty. During their visit to the heart of the Chernobyl "exclusion zone" the Cork delegation were taken to the huge construction site beside the damaged reactor where the French led team of scientists, engineers and construction workers are building the new arch sarcophagus (twice the size of Croke Park and tall enough to house the Statue of Liberty.) It will, eventually, be rolled over the old hastily constructed shelter placed around Reactor 4 which was at the centre of the explosion. The trip is the first in a series of international events to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the accident at Chernobyl (which occurs on 26th April). Chernobyl Children International, Ballycurreen Industrial Estate, Kinsale Road, Cork, www.chernobyl-international.com
Shannon, drones and Jordan
Given secrecy about US armed forces activity at Shannon Airport, Shannonwatch sometimes understandably engages in informed speculation. They have raised a question about a US Navy, C40 Clipper aircraft number 6694 which was being protected by an Irish army patrol on 29th February.: "We don't know what this aircraft was transporting, but we can be sure it was being operated by US Navy personnel as crew members, and it was either going to or from a military operation or military exercise of some sort, in clear contravention of US and Irish Government assurances that all such US military aircraft are not engaged in military operations, or military exercises, and not carrying any weapons or munitions of any sort." In relation to this plane, deadly drone usage in the Middle East, and connections with Jordan, they conclude very reasonably that "The Gardaí and the Irish army are based at Shannon Airport, not for the purpose of investigating any ... complicity in crimes against humanity, but more specifically, to prevent any such investigation from being carried out."www.shannonwatch.org
CAJ: Public order policing in NI, equality, women
The Committee on the Administration of Justice is publishing, on 9th March, a guide to how public order policing should work in Northern Ireland. This guide goes through the relevant standards to create a coherent narrative which is designed to identify decision points and the mechanisms through which the police are accountable for their decisions and actions. On 15th March there is the research launch of "A Fresh Start for Equality? The Equality Impacts of the Stormont House Agreement on the Two Main Communities". See www.caj.org.uk Background and achievements of the NI Equality Coalition can be found at www.equalitycoalition.net CAJ supported the Women's Manifesto for the NI Assembly elections in May by the Women's Policy Group, www.wrda.net
Flags: Towards a new understanding
Paul Nolan and Dominic Bryan are the authors of a new report on "Flags: Towards a New Understanding" published by the Institute of Irish Studies at QUB, 56 pages, A4. As well as an overview of the situation in Northern Ireland, including the legal framework, there is a chapter on moving forward including options, legislative approaches and voluntary controls, as well as a list of useful references; it is a very detailed3 look at what is still a very difficult and thorny issue. http://www.qub.ac.uk
AI-NI on dealing with the past
Responding to a speech in Belfast by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP on 11th February, Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International Northern Ireland said "Decisions on onward disclosure to families must be made independently, not by government." - "Of course, there are certain legitimate grounds where disclosure of sensitive information should not happen, for example if it could put someone's life at risk. However, it is vital that decisions on what is disclosed are made independently, not by government. Government ministers cannot be allowed to put themselves in the position of judge and jury when it is the state itself whose actions are in the dock." Amnesty also raised concerns over the £150 million pledged by UK government for historic investigations, which it warned will almost certainly prove insufficient to the task. The organisation said that the government must fund legacy mechanisms at a level that is realistic and necessary to meet their obligations to victims of serious human rights violations. www.amnesty.org.uk
Civil society and FOE on CETA and TTIP
Promises from the EU and Canada that they have improved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are fooling no-one, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. It remains a dangerous agreement that gives special right to corporations and threatens our democracy and the environment, says the group. According to the parties, CETA is set to include an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which will be modelled on the EU proposal for an 'Investment Court System' (ICS) in the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Friends of the Earth Europe – alongside hundreds of other civil society groups – has strongly criticised the ICS proposal as it keeps the hotly contested ISDS alive and puts governments' right to regulate in the public interest in great danger. Natacha Cingotti, trade campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "We urge governments to listen to the millions of people across Europe who are calling for a full rejection of TTIP and CETA. In its current form, CETA should not be signed." www.foeeurope.org and also Stop TTIP Ireland email@example.com
Eco-Congregations seek administrator
Eco-Congregations Ireland (ECI, working with churches to take an eco approach) are looking for a new administrative officer for 6 – 8 hours per week, working from home, as Fiona Murdoch moves on. Closing date 10th March. Info on this and lots of other news at ecocongregationireland.com
Support Syrians, says PCI
Pax Christi International has called on its global network and all people of good will to organise acts of solidarity and days of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria between 15th and 20th March.
"We call on individuals and organisations to show solidarity with refugees and victims of war and violence and create signs of hope that peace can come again in Syria. In March 2011, Syrian civilians started non-violent demonstrations to demand basic freedoms and rights. The regime's extreme repression led to the militarisation of the protests, evolving to a systemic war that has affected the whole region.
"In the five years since, more than 250,000 people have been killed, more than 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and 6.5 million civilians are internally displaced, including hundreds of thousands in besieged cities, deprived of food and basic services. Moreover, more than 4.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries and the wider region. The conflict in Syria has also worsened the situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Iraqi refugees living in the region. Their plight must not be forgotten. We are also in solidarity with the thousands of civil society activists in Syria. Despite scarce resources and limited solidarity, they continue their struggle for justice and are intensely engaged in humanitarian relief efforts."
Workshop: Real Tools to bring about Real Change
The Centre for Global Education and Queen's University Belfast School of Education invite participation in a half-day development education workshop titled 'Real Tools to bring about Real Change'. This will be a practical session on ways to engage young people in authentic active citizenship projects, based on the facilitator's more than 20 years of being engaged in active citizenship. The workshop will include ideas for media stunts, culture jamming and being media savvy. It takes place on Tuesday, 17th May, 10.00am – 2.00pm, in Queen's University School of Education. Facilitator is Jamie Kelsey-Fry author of the groundbreaking youth empowerment text the Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit. Fees: £15.00 / €20.00 (including light lunch). For a booking form contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Places limited to 20 and allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.
Church and Peace on terrorism, growing arms trade
Church and Peace has reaffirmed its commitment to finding nonviolent responses to the threat of terrorism and to building a peaceable, just and sustainable Europe, in a statement following a meeting of its Administrative Committee in February. It has also issued a statement regarding increasing military intervention and the growth of the arms trade. Both can be found on the Church and Peace website at www.church-and-peace.org
Local government peace prize
The UCLG City of Bogotá Peace Prize is for local governments that have implemented initiatives in conflict prevention, conflict resolution or peace building, that are proven to have had a significant impact. More information can be found on www.peaceprize.uclg.org
Taxation and Global Justice: do tax laws fuel inequality?
Over recent years increasing attention has been given to the structures multi-national firms use to manage their tax liabilities. At this event, organised by Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI), on the evening of 9th March, Micheál Collins (NERI) will examine the structures multinational firms use to manage their tax liabilities, and the growing evidence that the current system needs reform. Micheál will be followed by Michelle D'Arcy (TCD), who will respond to Micheál's presentation bringing a global South justice perspective to the discussion. The venue is the Teachers' Club, Parnell Square, on Wednesday 9th March at 6.30pm. Email: email@example.com to register. DDCI website is at www.debtireland.org
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