Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Galway
On Hiroshima Day, Saturday 6th August, friends and members of GAAW/Galway Alliance Against War held an event in Galway's Eyre Square that included music, poetry, song and dance to remember the two US atomic bombings of Japan in August 1945. As part of this commemoration Margaretta D'Arcy formally planted a "Peace Tree", a cherry blossom, in the city's main square.
This was not Galway's first "Peace Tree" – back in May 1982 Galway Borough Council declared the city a nuclear free zone and to mark this decision a cherry blossom was planted by then Bishop of Galway Eamon Casey. Then Irish CND had been behind the initiative and the Galway crowd of 70+ people heard from Felim Burke, a long-time peace activist. As for the tree it died, believe it or not, due to a lack of water in the very wet West of Ireland. One thing that didn't die was Galway's status as a nuclear-free city and local authority. Indeed, Galway is part of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities of Ireland and Britain. According to one of this body's reports, however, Galway may not be as nuclear-free as once thought.
Tests have shown that the waters, seaweed, coastal sediment and fish in Galway Bay have been contaminated by "Sellafield derived Plutonium (x3), Caesium 137 and Technetium 99". This troubling fact underlines the importance of making the Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration an annual event. GAAW marked the atom bombings of Japan last year on the 70th anniversary and hope to continue to do so. Another reason, of course, is that nuclear bombs haven't gone away, nor has the likelihood that they will be used again with even greater devastation.
In GAAW's preparation for the 15th anniversary of the so-called "war on terror", the Galway peace group is hosting two events to make people aware of the Shannonwatch protest at Shannon airport on the 8th and 9th of October.
On Friday 9th September GAAW will hold a public meeting at which the former British SAS soldier Ben Griffin will speak on "15 Years of the War of Terror". This event will be held in Richardsons of Eyre Square Galway and will begin at 8pm. Normally soldiers are deemed to be "brave" because of their use of violence during an act of war. Ben Griffin did something much, much braver – he refused to fight in an unjust and illegal war. He followed his conscience and the Nuremberg principles.
At Galway's Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday 27th September at 7.30pm there will be a screening of 'The killing$ of Tony Blair' followed by a Q&A session with George Galloway who made the documentary. firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Relations Week, September
Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week - the 16th - in Northern Ireland runs from 19th – 25th September with a wide variety of events including discussions, storytelling, other cultural events, launches etc. It provides a platform for organisations and groups from the community and voluntary sectors, arts, culture, sport, education and the wider public sector to showcase innovative approaches to good relations and building a united and shared community. The theme for this year is Building the Future Together and will focus particularly on youth. Full listing at www.nicrc.org.uk
Events around International Day of Peace, 21st September
Representatives from over 400 schools/colleges participating in Amazing The Space will converge on The Eikon Exhibition, Maze Lisburn on International Peace Day to share their vision for a better, brighter future. Each participating school/college has created a 25 word Peace Pledge. Every peace pledge will be embossed onto a galvanised metal leaf and fastened to a 4.5 meter metal tree. This unique piece of public art will be unveiled during the youth peace building event scheduled for Wednesday 21st September. Satellite venues at 5 schools across NI will enable the total gathering to be in the region of 5000 pupils. Global Generation will facilitate links with schools in other parts of the world who have also written Peace Pledges. Contact: David Latimer, First Derry Presbyterian Church email@example.com
'Peace, war and commemoration', a talk by Prof. John Barry, Monday 26th September at 7pm, in 26 University Square, Room 1.005, Queen's University Belfast. Free and open to the public. This talk will seek to critically examine the economic and political causes of WWI, the anti-war sentiment of the time and the dangers of depoliticised narratives of the war in terms of promoting present day militarism and justifications for war and violence.
"Hearing out and speaking up – the interface of mediation and advocacy" is an open and interactive event organised by INNATE and Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) taking place at MNI, 83 University Street, Belfast, on Monday 19th September from 6 – 8 pm. When is it appropriate to struggle on issues (your own or other people's) as an activist, and when is it appropriate to act as a third party mediator? And can you alternate between the two? www.innatenonviolence.org and www.mediationnorthernireland.org
A North Belfast primary schools event is taking place in Girdwood Community Hub, Belfast, on Monday 19th September at 10am; it will include a child friendly message on the UN theme of sustainable development goals.
A Youth4Peace day event will take place at Belfast City Hall from 6.30-8.30 pm on 21st September with music and interaction.
Events around Mediation Awareness Week
Mediation Awareness Week runs from 10th – 15th October and notified events are listed here.
The MII/Mediators' Institute of Ireland annual conference takes place on 14th and 15th October in Dundalk and the theme is "Ireland 2016: Mediation as an Agent for Change"; the keynote address will be by Carrie Menkel Meadow along with a variety of other speakers and workshops. Full details here.
Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) events include, 1) Jointly with Family Mediation NI, 'Making Access to Mediation Safe for Vulnerable Clients', a presentation at lunchtime on Thursday 13th October, 2) The Sailor and the Oar; Far from the Taste of Salt, a cultural expression in stories and song of the journey involved in mediation, 7 – 9 pm Monday 10th October, and 3) An opportunity for those mediating to practice, and receive constructive critical feedback, on the 5 stages of a mediation hearing, Wednesday 12th October with sessions at either 10am - 1.30pm, or 3.30pm – 7pm. Further details from firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.mediationnorthernireland.org
MNI's Mediation Theory and Practice 8-day course begins in Belfast on 23rd September; details as above.
British fighter planes in Irish airspace On 8th August it was revealed that an agreement was reached some years ago between the Irish and British governments about protecting this country's airspace from terrorist threats. It appears that civil servants from the Department of Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) entered into a bilateral agreement with British counterparts which would allow British Tornado fighter jets to shoot down aircraft in Irish airspace if they are hijacked by terrorists for a 9/11-style attack. The agreement permits the British military to conduct armed operations in Irish sovereign or Irish-controlled airspace, and was taken without consultation with the army. Shannonwatch are extremely concerned at this further erosion of Irish neutrality."The main threat to State security is our lack of neutrality" said spokesperson John Lannon. "The US military planes and armed troops that pass through Shannon already make us a target for terrorist attacks. And having British fighter jets patrolling our airspace heightens rather than reduces the risk of attack."
Peace People 40th anniversary events
Different events are being organised for the Peace People's 40th anniversary including 1) Linen Hall Library, Belfast, presentation by Mairead Maguire, 1.30 - 3.00 pm on 6th September, 2) Tuesday 11th October 10 am – 12.30 pm at St Luke's Church Hall, Shankill Women Event, 3) Sunday 13th November 3 – 4 pm in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Further details from email@example.com or 028 90663465. www.peacepeople.com
Poppies for remembrance, and peace
The 'Remembrance season' in Britain and Ireland is getting close and, for those who wish, the opportunity to remember those who died in wars and make a statement for peace at the same time by wearing a white poppy. The Peace Pledge Union in Britain sells white poppies (profits support their work) at 5 for £4.00, 10 for £7.50 or 25 for £15.50, plus £3 post and packing (UK postal area prices). You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.ppu.org.uk Other resources on war and peace are also available and listed, including a "Remembering war – searching for peace" set of documents which looks critically at the whole area of remembrance, and a publication on the story of conscientious objectors in the First World War, or on children and peace. PPU, 1 Peace Passage, London N7 0BT, ph 020 7424 9444. INNATE has a limited number of white poppies available.
Brexit and human rights
CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice and TJI/Transitional Justice Institute of Ulster University are holding a discussion seminar on the human rights and equality implications of the Brexit referendum: 9.30 am – 1pm on 27th September in Belfast. See here and www.caj.org.uk or contact email@example.com
Global Peace Foundation / Peace Leadership Conference
We (INNATE) are not including detailed information on the Peace Leadership Conference of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) taking place in Belfast, 10th – 13th September, but if you want to see information it is here. The GPF is linked with and funded by the Unification Church (sometimes known as 'Moonies') of Korea. The GPF appears to take an establishment and very conservative view of peace (e.g. the programme of the Belfast conference would appear to include no criticism of state violence) and it also seems to place undue emphasis on endorsement by celebrities and reputable bodies. While we carry news, without comment, on many very different events to do with peace, in the case of the GPF the Unification Church link is not necessarily known and that combined with its apparently right wing politics means we cannot carry news of this event uncritically. We will be sending this news item to the Irish office of GPF, in Limerick, for their comments which, if appropriate, we will be happy to carry in Nonviolent News. – Editor
Church and Peace conference, Birmingham:
"And they shall live secure" (Micah 5.4) - Theological reflection and practical action - The church as an agent for peace in an increasingly insecure world. This day of reflection and discussion will look at what makes us secure, and what makes us insecure, and how our faith fits into this. We will look at how the churches can play a prophetic role in building true security in our region today. Keynote speaker: Simon Barrow (director of Ekklesia) Workshop sessions and an afternoon panel discussion will give opportunities to reimagine the face of Church and Peace in Britain and Ireland, to see what the network's unique contribution can be in the future and how we can strengthen the work already being done.
Date: Saturday 29th October, 10.30 – 16.00, Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull St, Birmingham B4 6AF. The event is free of charge. A soup and sandwich lunch can be booked at a cost of £6.00. Registration and further information: Contact Barbara Forbes - firstname.lastname@example.org
To register, send your name, contact details and the name of your church/meeting/organisation, as applicable. Individual participants are also welcome and say whether you'd like to book the lunch, and if you're a vegetarian or have a special diet. Please register by 20 October.
Church and Peace is a European ecumenical peace church network made up of communities, training centres, peace organisations and peace service agencies. It participates in the ecumenical dialogue of the conciliar process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation and is a catalyst for common initiatives and projects. www.church-and-peace.org
Peace education programme, Crawfordsburn
A Peace Education Programme starts Monday 3rd October and runs each Monday, 2.30-3.45 pm, at the same time and same venue, Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co Down, for 10 weeks; it is being organised for U3A (University of the Third Age) but guests welcome. Further information from John McClean email@example.com
NIEL conference, Prosperity through the environment
On the 30th September 2016, NIEL/Northern Ireland Environment Link will be hosting its annual conference on the topic of "Delivering Prosperity Through The Environment" at The Belfast Harbour Commissioner's Office. The event will run from 9:30am - 2:00pm. Pavan Sukhdev (Study Leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) has said, "We use nature because it's valuable - we lose it because it's free". The environment and the economy are inseparable, and we need to realise the positive links between the two for a sustainable future. This conference will investigate the concept of Natural Capital and what it means for business, government and society. It will explore some of the tools of the natural capital concept, including Natural Capital Accounting at corporate and national levels, and have an opportunity to discuss the way forward for Northern Ireland in delivering prosperity through the environment, with a variety of speakers. See www.nienvironmentlink.org and click on 30th September or contact Stephen McCabe ph 028 90455770 firstname.lastname@example.org
DDCI on Apple
On 30th August, following the decision by the European Commission that Apple was granted illegal state aid, Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) called for a full Oireachtas debate to take place before any decision was made to contest the decision in the European Courts. "The details of the revenue seemingly voluntarily foregone by the Irish state is truly astonishing, with Apple paying an effective tax rate of 0.005% in 2014 and reports of €13 billion foregone in the period 2003-2014. This is particularly remarkable given the austerity policies ordinary Irish citizens were facing during much of this period." DDCI is calling for the Public Accounts Committee to undertake a full review of the operation and social cost-benefit of the tax rulings system operated by Revenue. Between 2010 and 2012 alone there were 335 rulings issued by Revenue. Due to the lack of transparency about these rulings, there is currently no way to estimate the impact of these further rulings to the exchequer, or to analyse the implications they may have in Ireland, and developing countries.
Specifically, DDCI argues that tax rulings should not be open ended, should be costed, and these costs should be included in government estimates and that revenue foregone through tax rulings should be included as expenditure in the government estimates and budget. "Low-income countries lose out enormously when MNCs minimize their taxes through profit-shifting practices and aggressive tax avoidance, operated through countries like Ireland. Altogether, multinationals' corporate tax avoidance costs poor countries around $100 billion/year, according to UN figures."www.debtireland.org
Communities locked out of renewable energy
The Commission for Energy Regulation is amending certain parts of the grid connection process this Autumn and will introduce a number of short term measures to improve grid connection procedures. However they are not planning on implementing any changes that would help community groups with grid connection. 25 groups including Friends of the Earth, the Tipperary Energy Agency, the Environmental Pillar and a number of Energy co-operatives have come together to send a joint letter to Minister Naughten asking him to direct the Commission for Energy Regulation to facilitate access to the grid for community energy projects.
There is approximately 2,500 MW of renewable electricity installed in Ireland, yet the 2 turbine, 4.6 MW wind farm in Templederry is the only one that is community owned. This compares with our neighbours in Scotland where there is 500 MW of community owned energy. Kate Ruddock, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Friends of the Earth said, "Imagine a community wanting to build a wind farm for itself, but can't because it cannot get a connection to the national grid. Grid connection is a speculative game. It's risky, costly and it could take 10 years for a bet to pay off. No community is in a position to compete in this game, and as a result people and communities cannot participate in renewable energy in their areas". www.foe.ie
Ireland off the hook but global warming 1.5C+
New European Climate Change targets were revealed on 20th August and they have made it easier for Ireland because of how emissions and carbon is accounted for. Failure to meet the 1.5C goal will mean a future where flooding, violent storms, and drought will be regular occurrences - as well as the knock on impacts of food insecurity and an increase in climate refugees.
The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 28 Irish national environmental NGOs, warns that the change to emission targets moves us further away from the goal of 1.5C global warming. The Environmental Pillar also point out that the inclusion of loopholes to get out of emission cuts present their own threats to Ireland's environment as it encourages massive carbon offsetting though forestry. Under the proposed targets Ireland will have to reduce emissions across agriculture, transport, buildings and waste by 30 per cent by 2030 - on the basis of an average of 2016 - 2018 emissions. This means that Ireland has been rewarded for not attempting to meet its 2020 targets.
The Commission proposal also contains two loopholes which can be used to offset the national targets. The first is the use of surplus allowances from the EUs carbon market (ETS). This means a country can put up to 100m tonnes of carbon from the carbon market towards the agriculture, building and transport sectors. The second is to allow forestry to count against emissions up to a value of 280m tonnes. environmentalpillar.ie
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