Mediators' Institute of Ireland (MII) on Mediation Bill
Sabine Walsh, the President of the MII, the Mediators' Institute of Ireland was welcomed the Mediation Bill and stated general happiness with it, but went on to say "However, we do see challenges with a number of proposals in the Bill, particularly those that could impact on the ability of the mediator to operate as effectively as possible." She continued "The MII has long campaigned for this Bill, which will make mediation more available and deliver better resolutions, at a lower cost, to those who are involved in disputes. This is a good news day as enactment of the Bill has the potential to divert many civil and commercial disputes from our courts and deliver major savings to individuals and the public purse. The MII now looks forward to working with the government and opposition parties to fine tune the Bill, ensure its effectiveness and expedite its passage through both houses of the Oireachtas."
Regarding potential savings, the MII estimates that legal costs in relation to civil cases in 2011 to have been €1.17 billion – a huge figure considering the current financial situation in Ireland. This figure is calculated from figures contained in the 2011 Court's Services Annual Report. "Statistics show a success rate for mediation averaging 80 per cent." For further information see www.themii.ie
War-Torn Children exhibition, Belfast
The War-Torn Children exhibition runs at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast until 15th April; it consists of arpilleras, posters, photos and other artefacts. It is organised by Conflict Textiles and INNATE in association with various other bodies. Opening hours at the library are 9.30 am – 5.30 pm Monday to Friday, and 9.30 am – 4.00 pm on Saturdays. More details on the exhibition can be found on the Conflict Textiles website including the conference catalogue (just listing arpilleras and posters) At this stage most of the programme is for particular groups but one open event is on Friday 14th April, 2 – 4 pm, an arpillera doll making workshop, facilitated by Roberta Bacic; booking essential, to Linen Hall Library at www.linenhall.com
Marking the exhibition, INNATE has added another 13 posters to its collection of free downloadable A4 size posters. These are labelled under 'Children and Conflict', Nos. 1 – 13. This brings the total number of posters available, on peace, green, human rights and other issues, to almost a hundred.
The Corrymeela Community is organising its first annual Carafest over Easter Weekend 14th–17th April, at the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle. The updated programme is now available; the programme includes music with Duke Special; Liz Weir and Pádraig Ó Tuama among others in Literature and Storytelling; talks from Siobhán Garrigan and Brendan McAllister, discussions with Joe Berry and Pat Magee; panels on topics including Brexit and peace, asylum seekers, and youth work; plus workshops and worship. The word 'cara' (friend in Irish and Scots Gaelic) has been chosen for this festival of faith and reconciliation. You can book online and prices range from £99 for the full weekend with accommodation and breakfast to £50 non-residential; family tickets and day tickets are also available. www.corrymeela.org
30th Afri Famine Walk, 20th May
The 30th Afri Famine Walk takes place on Saturday 20th May 2017 in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. For more details and booking Meanwhile the Afri Famine Walk featured on BBC Radio 4's 'Ramblings' and can be heard via the same link.
"On the first walk in 1988, walk leader Donncha O Dulaing arrived by helicopter to join Niall O'Brien, recently released from prison in the Philippines, and Mayo woman Caitriona Ruane, recently returned from Central America.....The following year, Brian Willson, having lost both legs while attempting to stop a train delivering arms from the US to Central America, was applauded as he bravely crossed the finishing line. Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah were almost blown away with the force of the gale that blew up when they led the walk in 1991.....The voices of Juana Vasquez and Dario Caal, representing the Maya from Guatemala, echoed off the mountains as they spoke at the edge of Doolough about the importance of solidarity and how they believed they were walking with the spirits of our ancestors through the sacred Doolough valley in 1995. And then the gates of Delphi Lodge were opened to the walk in 2013. We walked through the gates solemnly carrying the names of those who had died in the tragedy of 1849 and the names of those who died of hunger in our own day, in our world of plenty. We planted an oak tree, we planted potatoes supplied by Willie Corduff of Rossport and we listened to the deeply emotional rendition of 'Connacht Orphan' sung by its author, Declan O'Rourke."
One million trees in a day
11th February, and the period around it, saw community garden organizations, smallholders, councils, schools, farmers, neighbourhood associations as well as environmental groups, on both sides of the border, planting trees locally as part of the One Million Trees in a Day campaign. Since the campaign's inception in 2013, One Million Trees in a Day has planted over 700,000 trees at 3,000 locations around the island and this year there were something like 77,000 planted, including Dublin, Monagahan and Derry. The campaign aims for this reforestation effort to continue year on year, responding to the concern that Ireland is one of the least forested countries in Europe. The One Million Trees in a Day group monitor the progress of the trees with surveys, visits and feedback to ensure continued progress. Those involved included Young Friends of the Earth www.foe.ie and Transition Monaghan transitionmonaghan.org See www.onemilliontreesinaday.com [Great quote on their website "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now." Old Chinese Proverb.]
Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR)
The Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway runs an annual Sumer School on the International Criminal Court, taking place this year 19th – 23rd June. Based in NUI Galway, ICHR runs undergraduate, LLM and doctoral programmes; the undergraduate offering is a Bachelor of Arts with Human Rights, and details on all programmes are accessible on the website. Upcoming events include a conference on 24th March on Exploring Litigation as a Business and Human Rights Remedy: "It is especially timely in the context of Ireland's commitment to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, which emphasise the importance of remedies for victims of human rights violations connected with business activities." See here
Tools for Solidarity: Annual report, poetry
The annual report of Tools for Solidarity is available at www.toolsforsolidarity.com along with their newsletter. Tools For Solidarity is a non profit making development organisation from Northern Ireland run entirely by volunteers. It is actively working for a more equitable distribution of power and resources in the world. It is a voluntary charitable organisation based in Belfast and Downpatrick which supports artisans and communities in some of the poorest countries in the world by providing high quality refurbished hand tools and machines. Tools For Solidarity collects, refurbishes and ships out old and unwanted hand tools and sewing machines to skilled tradespeople in Africa. Tools For Solidarity, 55A Sunnyside Street, Belfast BT7 3EX, phone 028 9543 5972.
All Together in Dignity – ATD Fourth World is an international human-rights organisation that works through grass-roots projects in partnership with people living in poverty. All around the world, it remains focused on constantly reaching out to the most vulnerable families, those who have a long history of poverty and educational disadvantage even in the so-called developed countries. Projects in Ireland include visiting people in hostels and socially disadvantaged areas, discussing and promoting the idea of an inclusive social Europe, and a storytelling project. It is involved in the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, on 17th October this year. For more information as well as opportunities to volunteer and support ATD, see www.atdireland.ie
Church and Peace looks at directions for the EU
The European Union must reclaim its origins as a project of peace and reconciliation, Church and Peace has underlined in a response to an invitation from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) to reflect on the current situation in Europe. Peace building and sustainable development need to be at the core if the "European project" is to meet the crucial social, economic and political challenges it is facing, says the European peace church network.
"We would like CEC to urge the EU in line with the founding values to strengthen its peace building capacity, its development assistance, non-violent intervention in conflict situations and work towards just peace in accordance with the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development" says Church and Peace Chairperson Antje Heider-Rottwilm.
Heider-Rottwilm names the attempts to build up and strengthen military capacities of the European Union, such as the discussion about creating joint European armed forces distinct from NATO as a chief concern for Church and Peace, an organisation in partnership with CEC. She points to the particular example of the move to expand the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) - originally geared towards development cooperation, disarmament and non-military conflict prevention - to build military capacity in partner countries in Africa and other regions. Church and Peace sees the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as the basis to tackle current challenges. See more information on the Church and Peace website at www.church-and-peace.org
Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland
This is an excellent source of news about fracking and other hydrocarbon issues at home and abroad. Their 15th February issue (No.98) reports on committee discussions in the Dáil on the bill to ban fracking, fracking complaints in Pennsylvania, and the possibility that fossil fuel demand could peak by 2020.
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