Derry project blazes consensus decision making path
Inclusive, consensus decision making in voting is not at all as well known or used as it deserves to be but a recent project by St Columb’s Park House in Derry has provided some important examples of usage in civil society, with a report and manual for use, “Consensual Decision Making” stcolumbsparkhouse.org (32 pages A4, a limited number of paper copies may also be available). In the project, run in collaboration with Rubicon Consulting (Peter Osborne), the Modified Borda Count (MBC) was used by a variety of groups and organisations for decision making. These included a Department of Foreign Affairs conference on reconciliation priorities in Northern Ireland; the naming of the Rathlin Island ferry; deciding on recipients of funding from events run by Holywell Trust (this might have been quite contentious otherwise); deciding development priorities for St Columb’s Park in Derry’s Waterside, and deciding what form of democracy people wanted in Northern Ireland in a ‘Democracy Day’ event. As Gerard Deane of Holywell Trust is quoted in the report, “It didn’t just identify a clear winner; it made sure we got a winner with broad support, not just 50% + 1”. The manual includes a brief guide to the methodology and information on ‘DIY’. stcolumbsparkhouse.org
The project was based on work and methodologies developed by the de Borda Institute www.deborda.org whose website has more detailed information and tools. See also editorial this issue.
PANA: PESCO conference, Northern branch launch
PANA, the Peace And Neutrality Alliance, has a large conference taking place on the topic of PESCO, the EU’s ‘Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence’, which will require a major increase in Irish spending on things military apart from any increased diminution of neutrality. ”The EU – Talking peace, Preparing for war” conference takes place on Saturday 17th February from 12 noon to 5pm (lunch break 1.30 – 2.30 pm) in the Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin with a variety of political and other speakers. It is organised by PANA www.pana.ie in association with the People’s Movement. The pamphlet “The EU – Democracy or Empire”, edited by Roger Cole, is available on the PANA website.
Meanwhile the first meeting of a Northern Ireland branch of PANA has taken place in Belfast www.flickr.com on 27th January, when Gerry Grainger was elected chair. It is expected that it will deal with UK membership of NATO as well as issues of Irish neutrality concerning the Republic. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or via the PANA website.
PANA holds a vigil on the theme of ‘US Army out of Shannon’ the second Wednesday of every month from 5.30 -6.30pm at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Iveagh House, 80 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
ICCL moves ahead Over the past year, the Board and staff of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have completed a significant process of restructuring of the organisation to ensure that ICCL can meet the changed environment for its work. In 2017 it welcomed a number of new staff members who will lead a new strategic direction for the organisation. 2018 will be an exciting time for ICCL and there will be a high level of activity across all areas of work – but particularly in justice, policing, women’s rights and privacy. It will also have a strong focus on emerging human rights issues such as Brexit and the protection of civil society space. A new website was recently launched www.iccl.ie and ICCL have also just moved offices to 34, Usher’s Quay, Dublin 8. There is also a new phone number: 01 9121640. A further change that will be seen in the months ahead is a greater level of engagement with members and supporters. ICCL is committed to involving members more in shaping its work, and will be seeking a more active role from them in ensuring the future of the organisation in the exciting challenges that lie ahead. To read more about ICCL work in 2017, please see the newsletter www.iccl.ie To find out how to become an ICCL member, see www.iccl.ie/members.
Divided Society archive from Linen Hall Library
The impressive Divided Society online archive, recently launched by the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, covers Northern Ireland in the period 1990-98, a critical period building up to the Good Friday Agreement. Materials include a wide range of themes, journals and newssheets (Nonviolent News and the old Dawn Train are there along with around five hundred others publications), posters and some essays, plus audio and video clips. The publications represent a variety of perspectives including community groups, political parties, pressure groups, local and national government, and paramilitaries. Individual registration is needed for access (there is also institutional access) which is free in Ireland and the UK but can be expensive enough elsewhere. See /www.dividedsociety.org
CAJ: Reports, migrant workers, death of Johnston Price
The 2017 annual report of CAJ, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, can be found on the website at caj.org.uk The report from the Equality Commission, “Equal to the Task? Investigative powers and effective enforcement of the ‘Section 75’ equality duty” (executive summary or full report at 105 pages) is also available through the CAJ website. A conference on “The implications of Brexit for migrant workers: What to watch out for”, sponsored by a variety of organisations and networks takes place in Dungannon on 13th February from 9.30 am; see caj.org.uk
We very much regret to record the death of Johnston Price, deputy chair of CAJ, on 27th November; Johnston was a man of many parts including political, community, human rights and peace activist.
Afri’s Féile Bríde, Kildare, and Lessons from History
The Féile Bríde conference ‘Light out of Darkness’ takes place on Saturday 3rd February at Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare Town, organised by Afri in partnership with Solas Bhríde, Cáirde Bríde and St Patrick’s, Kiltegan. As well as music and ceremony, including a tree planting, speakers include Peadar Kirby, Hanny Van Geel, Rose Hagan, John Maguire, Sunny Jacobs, and Peter Pringle. The event runs from 10.20 am – 5.00 pm and fee, including lunch, tea and coffee is €18 or €12 concession. “In a world marred by war and the woeful destruction of our exquisite planet, Féile Bríde is but one example of the many, many people and groups throughout our world who hope for and work towards a better future, a more just world and for the light to overcome the darkness.” Further details at www.afri.ie with a link to other Féile Bríde programme in Kildare. This item also appeared in the January news supplement
“Just A Second! Lessons from History” is a development education resource for teachers, youth and school groups. This resource, researched and written by Danny Cusack, is a contribution to deepening the understanding of Ireland's great national catastrophe, the Great Hunger, helping young people to reflect on history in a way that is relevant to the challenges and crises afflicting other parts of the world today. Cost €5 plus postage.Contact Afri ph 01 8827563 or email@example.com
War-Torn Children in Letterkenny
The War-Torn Children exhibition (arpilleras, photos and posters) highlighting the devastating effect of war on children, their families and communities, runs at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, from 9th February until the 24th March. The launch, which is open, is on Friday 9th February from 12.30 – 2.00 pm and includes a keynote address by Pina Attanasio of Amnesty International Ireland and a guided tour by curator Roberta Bacic of Conflict Textiles. It is organised by the Regional Cultural Centre in collaboration with Letterkenny Amnesty Group. There is supporting programme with various events. For further details phone 074 9129186 or see /cain.ulster.ac.uk
No sense on Pence from the state
Shannonwatch has strongly condemned the facilitation of a meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and US troops at Shannon Airport on Saturday 20th January. It states: “The use of the airport by foreign troops on their way to a war zone is in breach of Irish neutrality, and the decision to hold a public display of support for a foreign leader promoting war on Irish soil is dangerous and unwelcome.” The Shannonwatch statement continues that “US troops transiting through Shannon are in breach of international laws on neutrality, and the armed aggression being waged by the US in Syria is in breach of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter which states that all member states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” www.shannonwatch.org
MII welcomes commencement of Mediation Act
The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland has welcomed the coming into effect of the Mediation Act on 1st January. “The Act will make mediation more available and deliver better resolutions, at a lower cost, to those who are involved in disputes,” said Sabine Walsh, MII President. “Parties who choose this process to resolve disputes have the benefit of engaging in a confidential process with the power to determine the best outcome for them. The Act also means that agreements achieved through mediation are now legally enforceable.” The 2017 Mediation Act can be downloaded at /www.oireachtas.ie and the MII website is at www.themii.ie
Plastic not so fantastic
The groundswell to tackle plastic pollution has been voiced in Ireland by different green groups The Environmental Pillar believes “the State can go much further than our UK counterparts, starting with a series of measures to cut down on our plastic consumption, encourage behavioural change and also net the State additional revenue.” It points out “By 2015, humans produced 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste - equivalent to the mass of 620,000 Eiffel Towers or 60 million blue whales. Shockingly, only 9 per cent of this plastic waste was recycled and 79 per cent went to landfill or found its way into the environment. The remaining 12 per cent was incinerated.”environmentalpillar.ie
Mindy O'Brien, the Coordinator of VOICE voiceireland.org has told the Oireachtas Environment Committee the Government must support the straightforward and progressive policies in the Green Party's Waste Reduction Bill https://goo.gl/2ZGjsB Friends of the Earth and other organisations brought single use items to plastic to the Dáil to make the point. /www.foe.ie
MNI Mediation course, Belfast
The next Mediation Theory and Practice course run by Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) starts on 21st February and continues on 28th February, 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th March, 11th, 18th, 25th April and 2nd May (additional portfolio day, not mandatory). Aimed at those looking to train as a mediator, it is accredited with the Open College Network (Level 3 with 9 Credits). During the course trainees will learn a basic mediation process for use in a two party dispute or in constructive relationship building. This course is run three or four times a year on an open access basis: you can find out more information about the course online at hmediationnorthernireland.org or enquire about future dates. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and phone 028 9043 8614.
Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI)
Eco-Congregation Ireland is the place for information on Christian faith and ecological issues with a newsletter which has a round up of events and information right around the country from a variety of different denominations. Go to http://ecocongregationireland.com where you can see the newsletter, sign up to receive it, or see other resources and information. E-mail email@example.com
Development Education and Human Rights
”Development Education and Human Rights: Informing Research, Policy and Practice” is a conference organised by the Centre for Global Education and the Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, taking place on Friday, 9th February 2018, 10.30pm – 12.30pm (12.30pm – 1.30pm Light lunch) at Dublin City University, St Patrick’s College campus, Drumcondra. Speakers: Fionnuala Waldron) (Chair, Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education), Su-ming Khoo (Lecturer in Sociology, NUI Galway), Ben Mallon (Post-Doctorate Researcher, Dublin City University), Rowan Oberman (Lecturer, Institute of Education, Dublin City University).
This event has been organised to present and debate the content of Issue 25 of the Centre for Global Education’s journal Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review. The theme of this issue is ‘Development Education and Human Rights’ and focuses on: the strong connections between human rights and development education in formal education; their shared commitment to sustainability and gender-based rights; the role of research in developing participatory, rights-based strategies; and the importance of criticality in transformative practice. Contributors to this issue will present their papers followed by discussion. Students, academics, development educators and human rights practitioners are all invited to attend - participation is free but registration essential via this registrationn page. The Centre for Global Education is at www.centreforglobaleducation.com where the journal referred to can be downloaded.
Militarisation of policing
In recent years, organisations affiliated to War Resisters’ International have observed a growing militarisation of policing in their home countries with internal security forces beginning to look and act ever more like domestic armies. It is increasingly clear that a shift towards militarised policing is taking place across each and every continent. The idea to create an online resource on the militarisation of policing was born from a desire to join the dots between what is happening in individual countries and paint a clearer picture of the wider global trend: see /www.wri-irg.org
Larne the green way with Jubilee
The website of Jubilee Farm is up at /www.jubilee.coop Jubilee is a Christian organisation seeking to practice and promote care farming, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and conservation education and engagement. Jubilee Farm is based in the 2 acre walled garden of Drumalis retreat and conference centre in Larne, Co Antrim which is run by the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. Jubilee is gradually developing its range of activities on-site, and hopes to be open to the public on Fridays and Saturday from summer 2018. You can make contact via the website.
Not so fine as Ireland faces environmental penalties
Large fines loom for the Irish Government as the European Commission brings the State back to court over its decade-long failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment for Ireland's largest wind farm. The Environmental Pillar - a coalition of 28 national environmental organisations - welcomed the Commission's decision which highlights the catastrophic failure by the Government to adhere to environmental law and forces Ireland to protect its environment for its people. environmentalpillar.ie This relates to Derrybrien wind farm which was built in the early 2000s; the Government has yet to carry out the assessment on the site. The construction of the controversial wind farm by Hibernian Wind Power - a wholly owned subsidiary of the ESB - led to the removal of large areas of forest and extraction of peat up to 5.5 metres deep on the top of the Cashlaundrumlahan Mountain. The construction work on the wind farm led to a 2km landslide in October 2003, which the Commission itself has called "environmentally devastating". The incident caused 450,000 cubic meters of peat to slide down the mountainside, which was washed into the local river systems.
Marriage equality As this issue appears, campaigners for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland are meeting the Northern Ireland Secretary of State (1st February). The equality campaigners are due to meet Karen Bradley at Stormont House, the first time that a Northern Ireland Secretary of State has met the Love Equality coalition campaign. Declan Meehan of the Love Equality campaign said: “The Secretary of State has said that she does not want to ‘impose’ marriage equality in Northern Ireland. We want to ensure that she understands that an overwhelming majority of the public and within the Assembly support marriage equality legislation and are frustrated at the lack of progress to date.” A statement from the campaign says “An Ipsos MORI poll in 2016 showed 70% support for marriage equality amongst the Northern Ireland public. It is thought that at least 55 out of 90 MLAs in the Assembly support marriage equality legislation.” www.amnesty.org.uk (Amnesty is one of the participants in the Love Equality coalition)
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