NATO war machine comes calling
The season of commemorations in Dublin was recently marked by a strange and disturbing visit: the arrival of six NATO minesweeping vessels on a 'courtesy call'. They were berthed near the Point Depot over the first weekend of April, and were open to the public. A small newspaper item on the visit was noticed by Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch in Limerick: that group's vigilance clearly reaches even beyond their meticulous monitoring of Shannon's shameful role as a warport.
Edward sent out an immediate email to contacts in Dublin, who organised a protest on Sunday 3rd April. Joe Murray, co-ordinator of Afri/Action from Ireland and John Maguire, an Afri board-member, were joined by Ciaron O'Reilly and a number of other peace-activists. Ciaron, who had already been imprisoned for anti-war actions in the US, was one of the Catholic Workers group who disabled a warplane at Shannon in 2003.The 'Pitstop Ploughshares' 5 were cleared of all charges, as a jury confirmed that they were acting to prevent injustice.
The festive queue at Dublin Port on the Sunday might as well have been for a sporting occasion, or indeed a concert in the nearby Point Depot. The protesters' slogans – 'No Minecraft with NATO', and 'NATO kills children like yours' – seemed perhaps incongruous, even jarring. Yet what was involved was another stage in a grooming exercise that has been in train long before 1999, when the Irish Republic was frogmarched into NATO's 'Partnership for Peace' without the promised referendum; this was no casual visit.
Ciaron O'Reilly addressed the families. He made it clear he didn't want to spoil people's day out, but asked them to remember and reflect on what these ships were really about. He noted the irony of their presence, including one British vessel, in the very place from where a century before Dublin had been bombarded in 1916. Their presence today represented a modern imperialist war-machine that has already unjustly and disastrously intervened in societies such as Afghanistan and Libya. The protest was a small action against this massive contemporary horror, and a reminder of how much needs urgently to be done.
Food Sovereignty Assembly, Mayo: Rising to the Challenge
For the past two years, Afri in partnership with Food Sovereignty Ireland, and with the support of Trócaire, has organised a Food Sovereignty Assembly on the day before the Doolough Famine Walk. For the Food Sovereignty Proclamation.
The Assembly gathering this year is at the Town Hall in Westport, Co Mayo, on Friday 20th May from 2 – 6 pm. This will examine how the aims of the Proclamation can be attained, how to exert influence on policies, how to transition to agriculture not dependent on fossil fuel etc. Admission is free but booking essential: to attend e-mail email@example.com or phone 01 8827563. Tea/coffee will be provided but lunch not included.
-fri's annual Famine Walk from Doolough-Louisburgh takes place the following day, Saturday 21st May, with registration from 12.45 pm in Louisburgh – for details see www.afri.ie or NN 238
Conflict Management and Mediation Skills Course, Derry
This takes place at Mediate NI, Clarendon Street Chambers, 67 Clarendon Street, Derry/Londonderry BT48 7ER on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th June 2016 from 9.30am – 4.30pm both days. The cost is £200.00 (including NIOCN registration fee and course workbook) and the tutor is Michael Doherty of Mediate NI. The course is designed for a wide variety of professions who work in group settings; it will include an experiential learning process involving tutor input and practical case studies that will be supplemented by a course workbook and hand-out material. The course is restricted to 12 participants. Ph 028 71 365636 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Shannon: Edward Horgan case dismissed
Shannonwatch has welcomed the dismissal of charges brought by the State against Edward Horgan at Ennis District Court on 16th April 2016. The charges were a result of his attempt to inspect US military aircraft parked near the terminal building on 18th April 2015. Dr Horgan was on his way to a peace conference in London on the day in question when he saw four US Hercules C-130 turboprop aircraft lined up just beyond the Aer Lingus plane he was boarding. Evidence to the court showed that he engaged in a "communicative protest" by walking towards the military planes to highlight the need to inspect them. One of the most notable aspects of the court case was the failure by a Garda sergeant to identify a single instance in which he or his colleagues at Shannon used their powers to inspect a US military plane. Under cross examination by Dr Horgan's solicitor he confirmed that he had never inspected one, despite being aware of the volumes of information and evidence provided by Shannonwatch.
Evidence was presented to the court by John Lannon of Shannonwatch, TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, and Dr Horgan himself. They showed the absurdity of "assurances" from the government that the US military planes are not carrying arms or engaged in military operations. Details were given of weapons on troop carriers, of visible 30mm cannon on Hercules planes, and of rendition planes at Shannon. As is usual in trials of peace activists, none of this evidence was contested.
Shannonwatch have said that the example of a National Air Cargo plane that went through Shannon recently on its way to the US airbase in Bagram, Afghanistan highlights the absurdity of claims about Irish neutrality not being breached at Shannon. In evidence to the court Clare Daly TD said the Minister for Transport's claims that the airline was carrying foodstuffs were difficult to believe, and that they provided a clear example of the need for inspections at the airport.
Shannonwatch demands an end to Ireland's support for US wars of aggression and occupation, and for inspection of all US military planes passing through Shannon for as long as they are allowed to land there.
Mediation Awareness week
Last year the Irish Commercial Mediation Association (ICMA) initiated 'Mediation Awareness Week'. This year it will take place from Monday 10th to Saturday 15th October. Backed by different organisations, a variety of events will be organised which will be listed on the Mediation Awareness Week Calendar. All areas of mediation including commercial, workplace, family, community, peace, elder and so on will be show cased during Mediation Awareness Week. So it is an opportunity to organise an event and promote it through the website. The new website will be www.mediationawarenessweek.ie Please reply by email only to Mary Ellen Doyle at email@example.com
WWOOF, WWOOF: Don't be a LLOOF, join in
Living and Learning on Organic Farms (LLOOF) focuses on educating adults about volunteering and organic food production on farm enterprises and is a partnership project with national WWOOF organisations from ten European countries. It has developed and is promoting a Learning Guide as an online open educational resource (OER) for adult learners about organic food production, entrepreneurship, volunteering and cultural exchange on farm enterprises. The adults, especially 18-34 year olds, can then relate this online learning to practical residential work experience and informal learning on a range of small enterprises in different European countries. The launch of LLOOF takes place on Monday 23rd May from 11am at Organico Café, 2 Glengarriff Road, Bantry, Co. Cork. Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 027 51524, and see edvorg.weebly.com and their YouTube Channel
Corrymeela open events
Open events coming up with Corrymeela include a one day retreat on Saturday 21st May, a Friends weekend from Friday 27th – Sunday 29th May (open to anyone interested in learning more about Corrymeela), and a major conference, Living Well Together Beyond 2016 - Building on the Past for a Better Future, from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th June; keynote speakers will include the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and Lord Paul Bew. There are residential and non-residential spaces available. For more details see www.corrymeela.org
On June 8th from 2.00 – 4.30 in Dublin there will be a briefing on CapGlobalCarbon which is a proposal for non-governmental actors to create a new global system to (a) make sure the necessary reductions in total global carbon emissions are achieved (b) reduce emissions in a way that also reduces poverty and inequality.
The system would operate as a back-up to the inter-governmental negotiations and provide vital reinforcement to community-led climate initiatives worldwide. The purpose of this afternoon is to brief attendees on the proposal, set it in a context of the commons and social justice, and to generate ideas about how to implement CapGlobalCarbon. This takes place at the Carmelite Community Centre, Aungier St, Dublin 2. It is a free event, but a small donation would be appreciated to help meet the cost of room hire. To register, email email@example.com with 'Dublin Briefing' in the subject line and giving your name and organisational affiliation if you have one. See also www.capglobalcarbon.org
AVP/Alternatives to Violence Project
Regular workshops continue with ones coming up including Castelrea prison which has a Basic workshop 20th - 22nd May; Cloverhill prison, T4F (Training for Facilitators, Third Level) 10th -12th June (TBC); and Wheatfield prison: Basic workshop 17th -19th June (TBC). AVP is a training programme enabling participants to deal with potentially violent situations in new and creative ways. Workshops are non-residential, run by trained facilitators and experiential (not based on lectures). See avpireland.ie
Death of Janet Quilley
We regret to record the death on 19th April of Janet Quilley, an English Quaker who, along with her husband Alan, were the representatives in Quaker House, Belfast, from 1992-99. This period included both the 1994 ceasefires and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. She was also involved with INNATE during her time in Belfast. May she rest in the peace she sought to work for. There is a photo of her on the INNATE photo site.
Fossil Free Faith
Divestment is in the news, and for good reason. With some stock market indexes, such as the American S&P 500, giving better returns on investment once fossil-fuel companies are excluded; with renewable energy sources now financially competitive with non-renewable ones, particularly once the $541 billion of direct subsidies for dirty energy (versus $120 billion for clean energy) are accounted for; with the opportunities for individuals, communities and organisations to take increasing control over their (renewable) energy production, with all the financial and employment benefits for them that this entails: these are just some of the many reasons why divestment makes sense.
You can read more on the specific case for church divestment. To this end, a panel discussion on fossil-fuel divestment by the Irish churches was held at Queen's University Belfast on the 23rd February 2016; the keynote speech from the event is available. An informal Irish church divestment campaign working group has already been established, comprising representatives from Christian Aid, Trocaire, Christians on the Left, A Rocha and others.
Peace and conflict in Asia
A public lecture on 'Envisioning Civic States: Politics of Peace and Conflict in Asia' will be given by Prof. Kiho Yi in G7, Irish School of Ecumenics, ISE/Loyola Institute Building, Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday, 10th May, from 4.00-5.30pm. Professor Kiho Yi is a Professor at King Jeongjo College of Liberal Arts and Director at Center for Peace and Public Integrity, Hanshin University, Korea and has been a key organiser of the track 1.5/II meetings among North Korea, South Korea, US, China, Japan and Russia, in the US, in Europe, and in Mongolia. All are welcome. To register, email RSVP by Friday 6th May to Dr. Dong-Jin Kim:firstname.lastname@example.org or Prof. Jude Lal Fernando: email@example.com
Irish government facilitates vulture funds
A new report by Debt Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) highlights the manner in which vulture funds have aggressively bought up large volumes of debt in recent years, and how this form of financial speculation has had hugely negative social impacts both in Ireland and the Global South. Entitled "From Puerto Rico to the Dublin Docklands: Vulture Funds and debt in Ireland and the Global South" the report shows how the Irish government has actively facilitated vulture funds through both the IBRC and NAMA. The report's author, Dr Michael Byrne of the UCD School of Social Policy, said: "The funds' history of aggressive asset management strategies poses significant risks for tenants and homeowners in Ireland whose homes are now simply assets on balance sheets for the funds, highlighted by the recent case of tenants in Tyrrelstown and business closures such as Clery's."
The report recommendations include: The creation of an international sovereign debt resolution mechanism; Legislation to bring about much improved transparency regarding the actions of vulture funds and to bring them under the regulation of the Central Bank; Greatly strengthened legal protections for mortgage holders.
People. Power. Action. Forging a Fossil Free Europe
Directors from over 20 European Friends of the Earth organisations will meet in Dublin for a conference on forging a fossil free Europe at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin on Monday 9th May, from1 - 5pm. This event will explore the role of the citizen in the transition to a zero carbon, nuclear free, community centred energy system. Drawing on examples from successful grassroots campaigns, including the Marriage Equality in Ireland, the Moratorium on Fracking in Scotland, the development of energy co-operatives, and local resistance battles, the conference will explore the importance of citizen engagement, activism and mobilisation in forging societal and political change.
IPB World Congress: "Disarm! For a Climate of Peace..."
The International Peace Bureau (IPB) is organising a World Congress on global disarmament and military spending. The event takes place from 30th September until 2nd October 2016 at the Technical University of Berlin. About 1000 guests from all over the world are expected to participate at the Congress. Founded in 1891/92, the International Peace Bureau (IPB, www.ipb.org) is the oldest existing international peace network. It counts more than 300 member organizations in over 70 countries and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.
The IPB devotes itself to the vision of a world without war. The main focus of its work is "Disarmament for Sustainable Development". Within this programme, it mainly strives for the re-allocation of governments' military spending. For 6 years, the IPB has been the coordinator of the Global Campaign on Military Spending including the Global Days of Action on Military Spending, GDAMS. Since the 1980s, the IPB has promoted the worldwide campaign for nuclear disarmament, aiming at the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
One big aim of the Congress is to make a major contribution to the international peace movement. A range of ideas will be discussed and a "Plan of Action for Peace" will be presented. Attempts will be made to bring together theoretical considerations and real transformation strategies. Moreover, the Congress shall be an impulse for the initiation of more peace actions all around the world. The provisional program is online. The latest news will also be on Facebook. A diverse program of cultural, informational and other side-events will accompany the Congress. Moreover, there will be an independent youth gathering. More information will be published at www.ipb2016.berlin
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