Galvanising the peace
The report from a broad based coalition or network of 24 groups on the 'Galvanising the Peace' project is an important statement from a community relations and conflict transformation perspective of what is needed currently in Northern Ireland to take peace forward. Based on a substantial consultative process which began in 2015, the report, which is available online covers many different aspects of what is needed to move forward in the North. It is subtitled "The Future for Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland."
One quote: "The momentum behind peace building must be prioritised and consistently supported if we wish to build a sustainable and peaceful society based on the principles of equality, human rights and good relations. The peace process in Northern Ireland needs to be reinvigorated through partnership between political institutions and communities on the ground." See also NVTV's coverage of Galvanising the Peace (first 9 minutes of their Focal Point programme for 27th September, www.nvtv.co.uk ). www.communitydialogue.org
War Torn Children in Derry
The War-Torn Children exhibition runs at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry until 27th October. This exhibition of arpilleras, photographs and posters, commissioned by the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry / Londonderry, highlights the devastating impact of war on children, their families and communities. It is an adaptation of War-Torn Children exhibited at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, in the spring. Full details on the Conflict Textiles website
Mediators' Institute of Ireland (MII) conference, farming
"25 Year Anniversary Conference: A New Dawn for Mediation in Ireland" takes place on Friday 13th (morning start) and Saturday 14th October (lunchtime end) at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone. Keynote speaker is Bernie Mayer PH.D, Professor of Conflict Resolution and author of many books on the topic, speaking on Conflict Engagement in a Polarized World. There are three workshop sessions with a choice of three workshops each time on a wide range of topics facilitated by Aonghus Cheevers, Sean Cunningham, Mary Lou O'Kennedy, Luke Monahan, Enda Young, Mary Rafferty, Ann O'Kelly, Stephen Anderson and Brian O'Connell. There are various fee options and an optional conference dinner. See www.themii.ie and go to 'Events'.
Farming and mediation: Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Agriculture, launched an MII leaflet at the National Ploughing Championships. President of the MII Sabine Walsh said "The MII has been developing mediation in agriculture as a specialist sector over the past couple of years and now has a designated Farming and Agribusiness section of trained accredited Mediators with expert knowledge and extensive experience of the farming and agribusiness sector." Go to www.themii.ie then 'About Mediation' and then 'Sectors'.
Mediation Awareness Week programme
The programme of events for Mediation Awareness Week, 7th – 14th October can be found at www.mediationawarenessweek.ie While most events take place in the Dublin area, Donegal, Wexford, Galway and Waterford also feature events, as well as a feature on Radio Kerry. Included is an open forum event in Dublin organised by ONE-resolve on the Mediation Bill, which passed both Houses of the Oireachtas on 26th September; the discussion will be introduced by Fergus Armstrong, mediator, and it takes place on Monday 9th October, from 7.30 – 9 pm at The Central Hotel, 1-5 Exchequer St, Dublin 2 (booking required and suggested €20 fee).
CAJ briefing on Brexit threats to NI peace
"Brexit and Northern Ireland: A Briefing on Threats to the Peace Agreement" is a new briefing paper from CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice looking at some areas of concern, and possible responses. "The withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have a profound effect on the legal and constitutional underpinning of the present jurisdiction of Northern Ireland, its relations with the Irish state and UK-Ireland bilateral relations. The UK and Ireland's common membership of the EU was an assumption in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement (BGFA) and the UK's adherence to EU law regulates the powers and legislative operations of the devolved institutions. The equal rights of Irish and British citizens, a principle of the BGFA, in great part relies on the equal rights of both as having EU citizenship. The lack of significant border regulation is largely due to common membership of the EU, North and South, as well as the improved security situation. Many equality and anti-discrimination provisions in Northern Ireland, which have particular importance in a divided society, rely on EU law." Available on the website at caj.org.uk under Publications.
CGE director one of four deported by Israel
Centre for Global Education (Belfast) director Stephen McCloskey was one of four Irish citizens deported by Israeli immigration officials en route to the Palestinian West Bank via Tel Aviv on 9th September. They were part of a delegation of 31, mostly Irish, activists, on a week-long itinerary to include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, a visit to a refugee camp and tour of major towns in the West Bank. He reports "I was separated from my group and questioned about a protest I had attended a year earlier in the Palestinian village of Bil'in which for 12 years has undertaken a non-violent campaign against the construction of Israel's Separation Barrier on their land. The reason given to us for denial of entry in Tel Aviv was 'Prevention of illegal immigration considerations' which is bizarre as we were all travelling under valid Irish passports." The Dáil debated the deportation following a parliamentary question by Clare Daly TD., see the first six minutes at tinyurl.com/y9ls6xfx For more details see here
Pax Christi International award goes to Chiapas
Pax Christi International has announced that ZODEVITE, the Movimiento Indígena del Pueblo Creyente Zoque en Defensa de la Vida y la Tierra (the Indigenous Movement of the Zoque Believing People in Defense of Life and the Earth), based in Chiapas, Mexico, is the recipient of the 2017 Pax Christi International Peace Award; the award will be presented in Rome on 29th October. ZODEVITE is part of a wider movement, MOVEDITE, composed of indigenous groups, that in recent years has waged a nonviolent campaign to stop fracking, oil exploitation and mining business in southern Mexico. In the past year, Pax Christi International has increased its commitment to nonviolence in all its forms, in relationship to all of creation including the Earth itself, and has formed the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative in order to promote and educate about nonviolence within the church and beyond. www.paxchristi.net
Barriers to justice
In his first major speech in the role of Chief Justice in the Republic, Mr Justice Frank Clarke has said that he intends to make the issue of access to justice the centrepiece of his tenure. The Environmental Pillar has welcomed this and points out that it has long highlighted the legal barriers for Irish citizens who wish to bring forward cases on serious environmental issues. It is explicitly clear in the Aarhus Convention that an applicant should be able to pursue a review of decisions without it being prohibitively expensive but the Pillar states "Given the costs in the Irish Superior Courts, the uncertainty on costs is particularly chilling and needs to be urgently remedied. The issue of costs is compounded even more by gaps in the legislation in relation to standing, even for environmental NGOs who are supposed to be afforded special status ...."environmentalpillar.ie
Citizens' Assembly: Opportunity on climate change
The Citizens' Assembly has just begun a process in democratic decision-making on climate change; the 99 citizen members will hear presentations from national and international experts on 'how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change'. Assembly members will also learn about the significant changes needed in Irish policy-making, as well as a specific session on action in the energy sector. After a second weekend of debate, the Assembly will vote on recommendations to Government on 5th November. The Assembly has already benefited from an extremely successful public consultation which received close to 1,200 submissions from individuals, NGOs and businesses. Actions put forward in the joint submission of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the Environmental Pillar include setting an end date for peat burning and coal-fired electricity generation, putting robust support in place for small-scale community renewable projects, providing significant funding for deep retrofitting of Ireland's housing stock and increasing the share of investment that goes to walking, cycling and clean public transport. The public sessions of the Assembly meeting will be live streamed on www.citizensassembly.ie See also www.stopclimatechaos.ie and environmentalpillar.ie
Love and Courage interview with Ciaron O'Reilly
An interview by Ruairí McKiernan with Irish-Australian peace activist Ciaron O'Reilly appears as a podcast (and transcript) at www.ruairimckiernan.com
Peace trails on NVTV
A short piece (8 minutes) on peace trails and the Belfast peace trail in particular which was produced by NVTV, the Belfast community television station, can be found at vimeo.com - at 9 minutes 45 seconds in to their Focal Point programme for 27th September.
Native woodlands the solution to farm water pollution, EU comment
The use of existing forestry grants to allow farmers to plant native woodlands along rivers and streams would dramatically reduce farm water pollution, Ireland's leading environment coalition has said. The Environmental Pillar - a coalition of 26 national environmental organisations - wants to see excess funds from under-spent non-native forestry funding diverted to a native woodland farm pollution planting plan as part of the existing Native woodland scheme. The Pillar's proposal comes in response to the Government's latest review of the Nitrates Action Programme which recommends that farmers on intensively stocked farms fence off their cattle from watercourses from January 2021. It is the Pillar's view that if farms are to be fenced off, funding should then also be made available to allow for the planting of linear native woodlands along waterways, where appropriate, to act as a natural buffering protection for rivers and streams. environmentalpillar.ie
Meanwhile the Environmental Pillar has also commented on the State of the European Union speech by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker. The Environmental Pillar has called for a more democratic, just and sustainable EU, commenting that the five possible directions outlined "are deeply disappointing, too focused on trade, investment, and the Eurozone with little connection to the real obstacles faced by the EU. We need a bold vision - an alternative sixth scenario - that puts social and environmental well-being at the core of the Future of Europe." environmentalpillar.ie (13th September)
The Environmental Pillar has been involved in a EU-wide petition to protect soil, calling on the EU Commission to introduce a common framework for soil protection. environmentalpillar.ie (19th September)
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