Fracking ban passes through Dáil
At the end of May the bill to ban fracking in the Republic passed through the Dáil, and after consideration in the Seanad, is expected to become law before the summer (although at this stage it is only on land fracking that is banned, not offshore). This is a remarkable achievement by fracking activists – and even politicians. Friends of the Earth deputy director Kate Ruddock commented: "This ban is a great victory for the local campaigners who have mobilized and educated themselves, their communities and their elected representatives on the threat fracking poses to local water, regional employment and global climate....The passage of the Bill also shows that 'new politics', where the Irish government no longer has a majority in parliament, can produce progressive results when deputies from all parties and none work with each other and those who elect them to tackle the challenges we face. We salute all those TDs who have worked to progress and improve this Bill, in particular Tony McLoughlin who has sponsored this Bill for the last year, and Minister Naughten who swung his Cabinet colleagues in behind the Bill. It is the first private member's Bill passed by this Dáil." www.foe.ie and shalegasbulletinireland
New Centre for Global Education website
The Centre for Global Education (CGE) in Belfast has a new website with the aim of making access easier. Information includes Policy and Practice (the only journal on global education published in the island of Ireland), the Global Learning Programme for schools, a blog, publications and membership. CGE, 9 University Street, Belfast BT7 1FY, ph tel: 028 9024 1879 and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Brexit and the environment in Ireland
The need for cross-border cooperation will be crucial to protect the environment across the island of Ireland as Brexit looms closer, the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement was told on 1st June. The Committee heard from the Environmental Pillar (EP) - an advocacy coalition of 26 environmental organisations in the South - and the Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL), the leading environmental organisation in Northern Ireland. Both groups identified the potential loss of legislative protection for the natural environment as the single greatest environmental challenge posed by Brexit. In the absence of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice, it is unclear how environmental standards will be upheld post-Brexit, Michael Ewing (EP Coordinator) said, especially as Northern Ireland does not have an independent Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental issues are outlined as one of six 'Areas of Co-operation' by the North South Ministerial Council, established under the Good Friday Agreement to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland. environmentalpillar.ie and www.nienvironmentlink.org
'Music from a dark lake' CD marks 30 Afri Famine Walks
The 30th Afri Doolough-Louisburgh, Co Mayo, Famine Walk took place on 20th May. To celebrate the occasion, Afri launched an 18-track CD of music, some by the best known musicians in the land (including Christy Moore, Ronnie Drew, Declan O'Rourke, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Liam Ó Maonlaí, and all of whom have performed on the walk) marking the Great Famine and related matters. The CD is accompanied by an extensive booklet of information on the songs. It would be invidious to pick out favourites (though everyone will have some) and it includes both instrumentals and songs; further information at www.afri.ie and the CD is available for €17 including postage and packing (€17.50 outside Ireland).
Pax Christi International on 50 years of Palestine occupied
June marks the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Pax Christi International is working with its member organisations to urge the international community to call for the immediate end of the occupation and for the parties to reengage in a peace process in compliance with international law. "In this symbolic month, Pax Christi International calls for governments, civil society and all people of good will to exercise their influence, through any means available – political, economic, public and private advocacy – to seek an end to the occupation. For 50 years the international community has been witness to the denial of human rights and the deterioration of conditions throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. We have watched the slow ebbing of hope as lives are damaged by the policies of this occupation....." (which it then goes on to detail). It also states, correctly, "The current situation is not sustainable. Reaching a political solution is the only path to peace."
Also quoted is Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories,: "The systemic human rights violations that accompany this occupation – collective punishment, confiscation of property, excessive use of force and unlawful killings, lack of freedom of movement and steady settlement expansion, among others – are intensifying an already perilous situation."
New director of ICHR: Siobhán Mullally
Professor Siobhán Mullally has been appointed as the Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway and will take up her post in September 2017.
Professor Mullally is currently a Professor at the School of Law, UCC where she also holds the position of Vice-Head of the College of Business & Law. She was recently elected President of the Council of Europe expert group on human trafficking, GRETA. Professor Mullally is also a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
She has worked as an adviser and consultant on human rights, migration and asylum law, gender and justice sector reform for UN bodies and international organisations in many parts of the world, including in Ethiopia, Timor-Leste, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kosovo. www.nuigalway.ie
Crimean Tatar Activist Wins Award for Human Rights Defenders
Defending human rights activists and political prisoners is some of the most dangerous work a lawyer can do in Crimea. After years taking on these risky cases, Crimean Tatar lawyer Emil Kurbedinov has been awarded a top international prize for human rights activists. In Dublin, on 26th May, Irish NGO Front Line Defenders named Emil the 2017 Laureate of its annual Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has defended the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists' homes.
In January 2017, Emil was on his way to the house of an activist that had been raided, when masked representatives from Crimea's Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained him and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of "propagandising for extremist organisations" and sentenced him to ten days in detention. The finalists for the 2017 Award include activists from Vietnam, South Africa, Kuwait and Nicaragua. www.frontlinedefenders.org
Jubilee Farm, Larne – intern sought
Jubilee Farm is a pre-start-up care, community and conservation farm situated in Larne, Co Antrim. Founded by an inter-denominational group of Christians, Jubilee Farm will partner with people of all backgrounds and beliefs to achieve a shared goal of good food for all forever. The aim is to pioneer the integration of a) care (social) farming; b) community supported agriculture (CSA – the first in Northern Ireland); and c) conservation education and engagement. It is expected to take over the lease of a 2 acre walled garden in the grounds of Drumalis retreat and conference centre from early October 2017. A female intern is sought to help with the farm's activities from September 2017 to June 2018; in exchange for food and accommodation, the post will involve 4 or 5 days work week, for a minimum of 25 hours. Further details: email@example.com Jubilee Farm, 47B Glenarm Road, Larne, BT40 1DT.
Feasta: Water privatisation 'thinkery' in Cork, Kerry workshop
Feasta has a 'thinkery' on water, anti-privatisation struggles and the commons taking place at UCC, Cork, on 23rd June from 10am – 4pm; In addition to people directly involved in water anti-privatisation movements in Ireland and throughout Europe, speakers will include Chas Jewett, Standing Rock Water Protector; Miriam Planas, Aigua és Vida (Barcelona) and European Water Movement; Marco Iob, Italian Forum of Water Movements and European Water Movement. There is no charge and participation is open but, it is necessary to register a place at the Thinkery by emailing Órla O'Donovan firstname.lastname@example.org before 16th June. Queries to the organisers Mark GaravanPatrick Bresnihan or Órla O'Donovan
Feasta still have some places available for its annual week-long workshop at Rossbeigh in Kerry, which will take place at the end of June; details from John Jopling at email@example.com Feasta, 1 Ard na gCapall, Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary.
Chas Jewett will also speak, on water and the environment, at the Teachers' Club, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin, on Monday 26th June at 7.30pm, organised by Afri www.afri.ie
Eco Congregation Ireland
Christian direct participation in the ecological movement is growing and, as well as coordinating activities and providing resources, Eco Congregation Ireland brings together news of what is happening in their newsletter, which you can sign up to receive or also view on their website at ecocongregationireland.com
Peace News Summer Camp, Norfolk
Peace News in Britain runs a family-friendly camp on working for radical social change, this year taking place from 27th – 31st July in Diss, Norfolk. Speakers include Betsy Leondar-Wright on class and classism, Bruce Kent, Peter Tatchell, Emily Apple, Dave Douglas and Milan Rai. There are also skills sessions, activities for children and teens, DIY entertainment, food, films, a bar and campfire. Cost is £20-£135 depending on income with food costing £6 - £12 a day for over 14s. Details at www.peacenewscamp.info
Ireland wins Gold in European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards
We begin the news section of this issue with a good news green story – the continuation through the Oireachtas of the bill to ban fracking. This is the reverse. Ireland has been awarded gold in the 'Sneaky Special Treatment' category of the European Fossil Fuel Subsidy Awards, held on 22nd May in Brussels. Climate Action Network Europe and a coalition of NGOs staged the awards marking the culmination of online nominations, public voting and campaigning. From 10 April until 8 May, the European public voted on the deadliest, dirtiest and sneakiest subsidies to fossil fuels in Europe, and Ireland was crowned number one for giving Sneaky Special Treatment to peat-burning for electricity generation.
Meaghan Carmody, mobilization coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos said: "The peatlands are Ireland's Amazon and we simply have to stop subsidizing their destruction. Burning peat produces just 9% of our electricity but 22% of our climate pollution from power generation. The Government needs to sit down with Bord na Móna, the unions, the communities and ourselves right now to plan a rapid and just transition to a more sustainable future."
Irish consumers pay surcharges, amounting to €120 million in 2017, on their electricity bill to compensate for the ESB's burning of peat mined by Bord na Móna. Burning peat for electricity generation is not only uneconomic, its carbon footprint is much more damaging compared to other fossil fuels, notably because of its high inefficiency and damage to natural carbon sequestering bogs. www.stopclimatechaos.ie and environmentalpillar.ie
Making it a greener budget
Taxing environmentally damaging practices and giving the money back through investment should be a key initiative of Budget 2018, Ireland's largest environmental organisation has told the Budget Oversight Committee.
Speaking in front of the Committee at a pre-budget hearing on 31st May, Environmental Pillar representative, Mindy O'Brien, outlined three key proposals:
Implementation of a single-use non-compostable item levy