Peace Trails hit the road
Peace trails exist in many European cities and elsewhere. They celebrate work for peace, justice and inclusion, and also mark humanitarian advances, sustainability, and pinnacles of cultural achievement. While most are walking trails they can include further flung examples. INNATE is working with partners to develop peace trails for Belfast, Derry and Dublin; partners include Afri, St Columb’s Park House, and Corrymeela. A first draft for Belfast is planned by April 2017 and the process of gathering information is active in the three cities named although it may be some few years before final trails are produced – and these will always be subject to alterations and additions.
Examples and stories are sought for inclusion and these are welcome from all parts of the island of Ireland as well as the three cities mentioned – the intention is to focus on other places in due course (a short peace trail already exists for Co Mayo, produced in 2012). They can be small anecdotes about an action someone took as well as much larger examples, they may be well known or totally unknown, and they can be recent or from long ago.
The intention is to weave the stories together into something worthy of the title of being a ‘peace trail’ which would be of interest to locals as well as visitors. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to submit ideas or make enquiries as well to any of the partners – Afri at email@example.com , St Columb’s Park House (Helen Henderson) firstname.lastname@example.org , and Corrymeela (Sean Pettis) email@example.com
A ‘Peace Trail’ section on the INNATE website (address as in masthead) will contain the concept paper (also available on request to firstname.lastname@example.org), updates on different places, and draft trails. However finished trails will have their own ‘home’ in due course.
Prospect of fracking recedes further in Republic
Environmental groups have welcomed the decision by Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten to support a prohibition on fracking in Ireland following a useful but flawed EPA/Environmental Protection Agency report published on 30th November, https://www.epa.ie/ This professed reservations on some aspects of the process, and the available information, but also purported that human health and the quality of the environment could be kept safe through additional safeguards if fracking was to begin.
The Environmental Pillar, which is a coalition of 28 Irish environmental NGOs, has said the decision by the Minister is the right thing to do to protect the health and well-being of communities around Ireland. Spokesperson Aedín McLoughlin pointed out "The report makes three very important points: 1. Fracking wells can fail and contaminate the water table 2. The cracks generated during fracking can contaminate ground water and we don't know enough about the location of underground aquifers to prevent this. 3. Even wells that have stopped production can (and do) leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas.” The Environmental Pillar statement went on to list its major objections to fracking including there is no scientific agreement that unconventional gas (such as shale and CBM/Coal Bed Methane) will have significantly lower total greenhouse gas emissions compared to other conventional fossil fuels (e.g. coal) and that development of shale gas and CBM will be at the expense of cheaper and safer policies to save energy and speed up the transition to renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. environmentalpillar.ie
Meanwhile Friends of the Earth (FOE), while welcoming some aspects of the report, were also critical. Kate Ruddock, Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth said “Although extremely lengthy, this research does not actually address many of the big concerns people have with fracking. There is no analysis on the risks of fracking to public health, nor is there an assessment of the impact fracking would have on Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change obligations." FOE welcomed the Minister’s comments that this research justifies the continued prohibition of fracking in Ireland and his re-iteration of the support for legislation to ban fracking in Ireland. http://www.foe.ie/
Sinead O'Brien, Co-ordinator of the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN), commented "The research supports many of the findings of the SWAN research in relation to impacts on water resources, including from poorly constructed wells leading to leaks; spillages and inadequately treated wastewater. However, there is a naïve faith in industry adherence to best practise and the ability of our current, fragmented and under-resourced regulatory system to control and mitigate risks. This is of concern given that the report finds regulatory systems in the US represent “examples of how a mature, rule-based system leads to specific controls and guarantees related to UGEE..”[Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction] This despite documented violation rates at up to 20% of wells in Pennsylvania, historically lax enforcement in states such as Texas and ongoing difficulties with regulation typically lagging behind developments in this evolving and burgeoning industry. "www.swanireland.ie
NI Peace Monitoring Report, Number Four
This latest ‘Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report’, number four in the series and two years since the last one, is written by Robin Wilson and produced by the Community Relations Council, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. It weighs in at 184 pages (A4) and again covers safety, equality, cohesion and sharing, and political progress. There is literally nothing like it for depth and breadth of analysis and it is indispensable for anyone who wants a detailed picture of the state, and health (literally and metaphorically), of Northern Ireland. Available as a PDF on the CRC homepage www.community-relations.org.uk
Roddy walks free, Donnellan has new charges
All charges against Colm Roddy were dropped at Ennis court on 16th November while Dave Donnellan also had charges dropped but new ones were introduced which come up again on 11th January. This was for a nonviolent action at Shannon Airport on 25th May last. See here
Choices We Made: Bystanding and Conflict
The Corrymeela Community has developed a new film resource ‘The Choices We Made: Bystanding and Conflict in Northern Ireland’. The film features six true stories of individuals wrestling with what to do when faced with sectarianism, violence and prejudice. The stories cover a 30-year period from ‘the troubles’ through to the post-ceasefire period. The film will be a resource for adult and youth audiences across Northern Ireland and internationally and will support individuals and groups to explore the complexity of the past and consider how we can make different choices in the future. A DVD will be available to order from the Corrymeela website in January 2017. There is no charge except postage and packaging costs. A trailer and more information are available here. The film will not be made available online until June 2017 as Corrymeela are presently seeking public broadcast. The production was funded by the Community Relations Council through their Media Grant Scheme and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs through their Reconciliation Fund. [A thought-provoking and original film – Ed]
Climate change and Stormont
MLAs from all the main political parties met with climate campaigners on 14th November 2016 at a climate lobby at Parliament Buildings in Belfast to demand Assembly action on climate change. The event was organised by Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and Trócaire and was a chance for constituents to meet their MLAs and press the need for local climate legislation to complement the 2008 UK Climate Change Act, which does not have authority over Northern Ireland’s carbon emissions. Niall Bakewell of Friends of the Earth said,"MLAs had pledged to support a climate change bill for Northern Ireland back in 2012 at a similar lobby event. Despite two public consultations on the issue, there has been no legislation brought forward. The great turnout at yesterday’s event demonstrates that public support is higher than ever for our MLAs to act on climate change. We can delay no further. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and we need political leadership on this issue.”https://www.foe.co.uk
Afri: Let there be – solar – light, for Kenya
Afri has a partnership with the Kenyan Pastoralist Journalist Network and Abjata Khalif of that group has visited Ireland and spoken at Afri events several times. Afri has a gift scheme in operation whereby donations of €15 buy a solar light for a midwife, a family or schoolchildren in Northern Kenya who have no safe means of lighting in the dark; kerosene is expensive and pollution or fume producing. Donors receive a gift card. You can purchase this gift online, by cheque or bank transfer. See here for details.
WRI: Prisoners for Peace, Statement on Syria
Prisoners for Peace Day is 1st December but it is not too late to send support, you can see information and access the list here. Included are prisoners in Eritrea, Finland, South Korea, USA and Turkmenistan.
A statement on Syria was adopted by the War Resisters’ International (WRI) Council on 25th November and this can be read here. In a situation where it is difficult to know where to begin, this statement tries to do so. See also e-mail and web editions
PCI and Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
Pax Christi international, in their Advent Appeal this year, is seeking support for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative to newly place the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. This Initiative aims to call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace; integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life and work of the Church at every level; train Catholics around the world in nonviolent practices and strategies; lift up the prophetic voice of the church to challenge unjust world powers and to support those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice put their lives at risk. nonviolencejustpeace.net and www.paxchristi.net