Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report No.5
The publication of this detailed tome – the latest is number five and covering 2017-2018 – is always a triumph of fact (a huge amount of it) over fiction. No matter how much someone feels they are on top of where, if anywhere, Northern Ireland is heading and being well informed about it, a careful reading of the ‘Peace Monitoring Report’ is likely to give them pause to reflect and reassess their perceptions and understanding. Set up to provide moving benchmarks of peace and wellbeing in the North, and published by the Community Relations Council but funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, it is also a triumph of concerned but dispassionate analysis.
As before this one covers political progress; the sense of safety; wealth, poverty and inequality; and cohesion and sharing. The latest edition weighs in at 220 pages, A4 and collectively authored by Anne Marie Gray, Jennifer Hamilton, Gráinne Kelly, Brendan Lynn, Martin Melaugh and Gillian Robinson (all from ARK at Ulster University) overseen by an advisory group. While it can, and should, be read from cover to cover, it can also be referred to selectively since it is a compilation and pulling together of facts and statistics which are mainly in the public realm. There is also a useful four-page overview, “Ten Key points” (page 11). All the Peace Monitoring Reports can be found under the Publications section of the Community Relations Council website at www.community-relations.org.uk/
Sperrins gold mining resistance continues and grows
Resistance continues and grows to the prospect of gold mining in the Sperrins by Dalradian who, as with all such enterprises, try to divide the local community which faces not just extensive use of cyanide in the mining process but large spoil heaps (which the company would landscape and plant). Dalradian have made 7 separate planning applications to make it harder to oppose. In addition the processing plant is not just for this site but would make multiple mines across Ireland economically viable (and other campaigning groups are springing up in possible mining locations). Mid Ulster and Derry Strabane councils have voted in past weeks to cease issuing exploratory mining licences because of a sea change in political opinion, the record number of planning objections, and upcoming council elections. The chair of the Save Our Sperrins group www.facebook.com/SaveOurSperrins, Cormac McAleer, has been arrested twice recently in his work. Greencastle People’s Office (‘GPO’) is also on Facebook. You can support local people in their opposition to gold mining by downloading templates at: nogoldmininginsperrins.wordpress.com
Féile Bríde, Kildare: Education, Action, Compassion, Hope Afri’s Féile Bríde takes place on Saturday 9th February at Solas Bhríde, Kildare town. “The sun shines through winter’s darkness and promises the warmth and growth of summer......speakers at this year’s event embody the attributes of the title. Richard Moore’s living example of compassion is such that the Dalai Lama calls him his hero. Caoimhe de Barra has devoted her energies to pursuing justice and human rights, as Michael Doorly has directed his to promoting global education and equity. Kay Mulhall personifies the spirit and aim of the Brigidines ‘to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and seek to build a more inclusive community.’ Meghan Carmody represents a new generation of activists with passion and determination to see our world transformed.” There will also be music by Laoise Kelly. Registration 9.50am, programme runs from 10.15am to 4.30pm and the fee is €20, €13 concessions, with lunch. Further details from Afri, www.afri.ie and phone 01 – 8384204. Afri is now at 8 Cabra Road, Phibsborough, Dublin 7, D07 T1W2. This item also appeared in the January news supplement.
Post-Brexit Citizenship Status: Divided by the Rules?
This one-day conference from BrexitLawNI and the Equality Coalition on “Post-Brexit Citizenship Status: Divided by the Rules?” takes place from 10am to 4pm on Monday 4th March in the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. This will examine the risks of hardened entitlement boundaries between different groups of citizens in post-Brexit Northern Ireland. The existing paradigm of two main citizenship categories (EU and non-EU) will be expanded to include many more sub-divisions should the current Brexit proposals proceed (a table showing the complexity is available at the ‘Fuller details’ address below).
The conference will include input from a wide range of experts and will cover implications for EU and non-EU migrants in Northern Ireland, and for British and Irish citizens there. Fuller details at www.caj.org.uk and you can book by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org - please state any access or dietary requirements. The Equality Coalition is co-convened by CAJ and UNISON. BrexitLawNI is a collaborative ESRC-funded research project between CAJ and the Law Schools of Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.
The CAJ (Committee on the Administration of Justice) 2018 Annual Report is available on their website under Publications at caj.org.uk
From Africa to Ireland Where we learn from is often very selective but there is a conference on this topic with the subtitle “A global reimagining of Christian peacebuilding in Northern Ireland” organised by Thrive on Thursday 28th February from 9.30am – 4.30pm at the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim. It includes cross cultural learning from Rwanda (speaker Christophe Mbonyingabo) and Zimbabwe (speaker Rev Useni Sibanda) plus Derek Poole, Rev Lesley Carroll and Diane Holt from Northern Ireland. Registration to email@example.com and phone 028 90730068. thriveireland.org
ICCL on Future of Policing ICCL (Irish Council for Civil Liberties) responded in detailed fashion, on 18 December 2018, to the publication of the Government’s Implementation Plan for the Commission on the Future (CFP) of Policing Report. It particularly welcomed the details set out in the Plan and the establishment of an Implementation Group on Policing Reform to deliver the process of reform. However in ICCL Director Liam Herrick’s words “Nonetheless we emphasise and reiterate our previous calls for urgent reform in key areas not mentioned in the Implementation Plan, including ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), the introduction of legislation to deal with hate crime, and the establishment of a Victims’ Ombudsman.”
He went on to say ICCL “welcomes the planned establishment of a Human Rights Unit within An Garda Síochána, but this in itself is not sufficient to guarantee a human rights-compliant policing service. The unit must be mandated and resourced to human rights-proof all aspects of the work of An Garda Síochána, and to ensure those policies are implemented throughout the organisation, and throughout the work of the oversight bodies.” Much more detail at www.iccl.ie
Irish CND on US departure from INF Treaty Irish CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) has issued a statement on USA policy in relation to the INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and their intention to withdraw fully by August. “It has been widely regarded as one of the most successful international nuclear arms reduction measures, removing a whole class of weapons which had largely been targetted at European cities in the event of hostilities between the former USSR and the US. Since 2014, both the US and Russia have alleged that the other state is in breach of the treaty through the development on new nuclear-capable missile systems, although neither side has published conclusive evidence of this. At a time when the world already faces unprecedented crises in the form of climate change, regional conflicts and refugee movements, it beggars belief that the leadership of any civilised state would open the gates towards expanding its capacity to destroy life on earth through the development of new nuclear weapons systems.” The statement goes on to outline the action the Irish government should take. Irish CND irishcnd.blogspot.ie
Climate Change Ireland: Don’t mention the emergency? Climate Change Ireland have made a link to a very useful Australian publication, “Don’t mention the emergency?” by Jane Morton which looks at how to effectively make the case for emergency climate action. sites.google.com/site/irelandclimatechange/
Not investigating US planes at Shannon At the usual Shannonwatch monthly vigil at Shannon on 9th December, Gardaí were formally asked to search and investigate the two US military aircraft that were clearly visible to all concerned. Margaretta D'Arcy was not satisfied with this, as based on past experiences this was highly unlikely to happen, so the 82-year-old veteran of the Greenham Common anti-nuclear weapons protests in the UK moved on to the roadway and lay down in the centre of the road. She was carefully removed twice from the roadway, and traffic to and from the airport was disrupted for some time. Shannonwatch wants to highlight that the government continues to erode Irish neutrality and that all Irish citizens have been made complicit by allowing the US military to use Shannon Airport to wage its wars. Source: PANA www.pana.ie and see also www.shannonwatch.org
Victims, Pepetrators, Legacies
A debate takes place in the Council Chamber of Queen’s University Belfast at 4.30pm on Thursday 7th February, hosted in partnership with the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, entitled ‘Victims, Perpetrators and the Legacies of Violent Conflict’. The speakers are Dr. James Waller and Dr. Cheryl Lawther. No registration is required and seats will be issued on a first come, first served basis. Go to www.qub.ac.uk and search for title.
European peace project(ile)? A broad alliance of 74 organisations and institutions (including Church and Peace) from nine European countries is calling for the rescue of the ‘European peace project’. The alliance criticizes the EU’s plans to invest billions in arms research and military cooperation with third countries. In view of the large number of violent conflicts, the signatories demand that the EU invest more in nonviolent conflict management. Everyone in the EU is invited to sign the appeal at www.savethepeaceproject.eu before the elections are held from 23rd to 26th May 2019. You can find the full text of the appeal, a list of the 74 signatories and background info at: www.church-and-peace.org
Torn from Home: Remembering the Holocaust, Belfast This is an exhibition of textiles and memorabilia at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast running until 28th February. For more information visit cain.ulster.ac.uk/conflicttextiles
Tools for Solidarity (TFS)
Tools for Solidarity’s annual report for 2017-18 is available at tinyurl.com/y9wrjajd and this includes TFS contacts on the cover. “TFS supports self-reliance by providing high quality refurbished tools to working people overseas, promoting international solidarity, and challenging global inequalities through critical examination of development issues, environmental sustainability and ethical working practices.”
Jubilee Farm This is Northern Ireland’s first community-owned farm and with some money and forms still trickling in, Jubilee raised aproximately £300,000 from 140 members, including £50,000 from the Cooperative Foundation and some low-interest, long-term, peer-to-peer loans. This money has been sufficient to purchase the farmhouse and 13.5 acres of land, pay legal and other costs, and provide some working capital and funding for livestock and equipment. The keys were handed over by Thomas Apsley, former owner of the property, on 11th January 2019 - the house and farm had been in the Apsley family for several generations.
Meanwhile the Irish and UK Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks are joining to organise an event on Saturday 16th February to kickstart the CSA movement in Northern Ireland. It will include a tour of Jubilee Farm and presentations from existing CSAs from both networks. It is open to anyone interested in setting up or supporting CSA farms. The event is free for CSA Network members - and £10 for non members in order to help cover running costs. See https://tinyurl.com/ycopeayb for details. Jubilee is at 47B Glenarm Rd, Larne, Co Antrim BT40 1DT; it is on a variety of social media including Facebook.
NATO 70th celebrations ....on M L King Day.... The United National AntiWar Coalition (UNAC) in the USA initiated a call for a demonstration in Washington, DC on Saturday, 30th March 2019 to protest the fact that NATO leaders will be coming there on 4th April to hold a "celebration" of NATO’s 70th anniversary; this has been endorsed by a broad section of organisations in the US. 4th April is also the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and of his famous antiwar speech at Riverside Church one year prior to his assassination and UNAC regards the overlap as a “grotesque desecration of Rev. King’s lifelong dedication to peace.” Other events marking 70 years of NATO will take place elsewhere....keep an eye out or create something yourself.... www.unacpeace.org
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