CAJ new director, other work
CAJ (Committee on the Administration of Justice) recently appointed a new Director and Deputy Director. Brian Gormally, previously of Justice Associates is the new Director and Daniel Holder, formerly of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, is the new Deputy Director.
CAJ recently launched a report into the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. The report, which is available from the website outlined a series of very serious failures in relation to the current ability of the Police Ombudsman’s Office to fulfil its remit. These failings raised serious questions and concerns as to the independence of and political interference in the Office of the Police Ombudsman. CAJ recently called for the resignation of Al Hutchinson, current Police Ombudsman in light of further reports into the Office.
A CAJ representative recently gave evidence to the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination in Geneva. In its submission, CAJ outlined the continued use of stop and search powers here, without sufficient safeguards against discriminatory use. The organisation also drew attention to the low ethnic minority representation in the PSNI and the concerns surrounding the independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman. This was an invaluable opportunity to shine the international spotlight on local ethnic minority issues. CAJ, 2nd Floor, Sturgen Building, 9-15 Queen Street, Belfast BT1 6EA, phone 028 – 90316000, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Amnesty welcomes Irish government arms report
Amnesty International Ireland welcomed the release on 21st September of the Government’s first report on the Irish arms trade but questioned the delay in its publication. Annual reports are required by the Control of Exports Act 2008.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “This report covers not just Irish arms trades last year, but for the past three years ago. While we welcome the publication of the report, we would question the length of time that it has taken for the Government to publish this information. The fact that Minister Richard Bruton TD has committed to publishing summary information every six months is a definite step in the right direction.”
Amnesty International Ireland welcomes the publication of this information but questions the lack of specifics in some areas. Colm O’Gorman continued: “While we appreciate the need for a degree of commercial confidentiality, the report leaves some questions unanswered. The final end use of these products is not listed. This makes it difficult to find out exactly what we are sending to these countries, which is vital given that some of them have very questionable human rights records. Also, listed are just the license values, not the values of the goods actually exported making it difficult to precisely quantify the trade. If there are confidentiality reasons for these omissions, they should have been outlined in the report. We welcome this report's publication, and hope that the next annual reports are published on time.” Website http://www.amnesty.ie
Housmans Diary 2012
Yes, it is getting late in the year and the time ‘think diary’ again. Whether you keep your dates and engagements electronically or in paper form, Housmans Peace Diary is an indispensable aid to movements working for peace, social justice and the environment. The directory lists over 1500 national and international human rights organisations as well as Diary features such as a week to a view, notable dates and anniversaries etc. This is the 59th edition of Housmans Peace Diary. One copy is £8.95, postage is £1 extra per diary for 1-4 copies in UK postage area, £2 per diary in the rest of Europe or £3 extra worldwide. Discounts for more copies. Housmans, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, ph 020 7837 4473, e-mail email@example.com or to order online visit http://www.housmans.com
INNATE will have a limited number of Housmans Peace Diaries for sale.
The World Peace Directory is also available online at in a fuller version. It is worth reading the background information on the website to get the best use out of it.
The EU in Crisis: Prospects for Regaining Ireland's Sovereignty
Friday 7th - Saturday 8th October 2011 at the Ireland Institute, Pearse St, Dublin, this Conference is organised by Feachtas-Campaign for a Social Europe, the People’s Movement and the Peace & Neutrality Alliance. Full conference fee €15, individual sessions €5, student/unwaged half price. At 7.30pm on Friday the topic is “Was ‘Social Europe’ a con?’. The Saturday 11am session is on “Should Ireland stay in the Euro?”. Saturday 2pm is “The EU – an Emerging Military Superstate?”. The Saturday 4.15pm session is on “The Struggle to Regain Irish Sovereignty”. Contact: Roger Cole 087 - 2611597, Frank Keoghan 087 – 2308330, or Seamas Ratigan 086 – 8369793. Websites: http://www.campaignforasocialeurope.org http://www.people.ie and http://www.pana.ie
INCORE lecture: Peacebuilding, State-building and Reconciliation
There is an INCORE Public Lecture by Graeme Simpson, Director Interpeace, USA on "Measuring Societal Fragility and Resilience? Some Reflections on Peacebuilding, State-building and Reconciliation" at 6.30 p.m. on Monday 3rd October 2011 in the Great Hall, Magee campus, Derry/Londonderry. Contact: Tracy Ward, INCORE, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 028 – 71675510. For link see here.
FOE: “Hogan’s Law” best way to honour Tyndall
As Minister for Environment Phil Hogan opened an international conference on 28th September to honour the pioneering work of Irish scientist John Tyndall, Friends of Earth called on the Minister to make Ireland as proud of our climate policy as we are of our climate science. 150 years ago this year Carlow-born Tyndall published a landmark paper showing that carbon dioxide and other gases trap the sun's heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Discovering this "greenhouse effect" laid the basis for climate science and our discovery of the threat of climate change caused by human activity. Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan said “ A strong and effective climate law is the best way to honour his pioneering work on climate science". See Friends of the Earth, 9 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2, ph 01 - 6394652, http://www.foe.ie
FOE: Gas fracking potential nightmare for North
At a public meeting in Fermanagh on 27th September, Friends of the Earth warned of the dangers of the gas extraction technique known as ‘fracking’ [shorthand for the term hydraulic fracturing. It involves drilling down vertically into shale rock with a borehole lined with concrete and metal then horizontally forcing at high pressure large quantities of water, sand and chemicals to release the gas] and has given its support to communities who want to resist this new approach to gas extraction. The lobby group has three main concerns 1) The structural inability of government to regulate a highly controversial gas extraction industry given the absence of an independent Environmental Protection Agency in Northern Ireland 2) The adverse economic impact on tourism and farming and the adverse social impact on communities and public safety 3) There is no need for damaging gas extraction given the proven alternatives for clean renewable energy resources. See here or contact FOE, 7 Donegall Street Place, Belfast BT1 2FN, ph 028 – 9023 3488, e-mail email@example.com
Forthspring West Belfast walking tour
There is a new option in West Belfast tours. Forthspring Intercommunity Group has launched a walking tour informed by their peace-building work offering a multifaceted history of the conflict. As well as the usual peace walls and murals, the Forthspring tour emphasises the imaginative ways local communities have come to share their divided city during the Northern Irish peace process. An information pack and a two-hour walking circuit of the Springfield Road, the Falls and the Shankill is available for £6 per adult. The information pack contains a brief history of Northern Ireland, a survey of the Springfield Road’s particular history and a survey of the peace walls. The tour also focuses on current efforts to build improved relations on the interface. Johnston Price, Good Relations Co-ordinator, Forthspring Inter-Community Group, 373-375 Springfield Road, Belfast BT12 7DG, ph 028 – 90313945, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and web khttp://www.forthspring.org.uk
Mediation Northern Ireland
Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) has an intriguing series of small scale events this autumn on various topics ‘to nurture mediators and peacebuilders’. These include early morning mindfulness sessions, seminars on the ‘moral imagination’, and material religion and popular culture, and a leadership workshop on indigenous world views. For details contact email@example.com or call 028 - 90438614. See also http://www.mediationnorthernireland.org
Global Nonviolent Action Database
Swarthmore University in the USA has produced a Global Nonviolent Action Database listing examples of nonviolent action around the world and categorizing them according to Gene Sharp’s typology “The Methods of Nonviolent Action” from his classic “The Politics of Nonviolent Action” (1973). While the detail is very useful, and it is much more detailed on individual examples than Sharp, the Swarthmore categorisation may also be somewhat subjective or even misjudged at times (e.g. on ‘Irish Republican Prisoners Campaign for Special Status 1976-1981” under ‘Northern Ireland’) – Ed. See here.
Shannon protest to mark 10th Anniversary of attack on Afghanistan
There is a protest in Shannon at 2pm on Sunday October 9th 2011 to remember a decade of lives lost and destroyed in Afghanistan, and to tell the Irish government AGAIN that the use of Shannon Airport by the US military is unacceptable.
At 9 p.m. (local time) on Sunday October 7th 2001, the US supported by Britain began an attack on Afghanistan, indiscriminately launching bombs and cruise missiles against suspected Taliban facilities. Ten years later the US military are still there, and the Afghan people are suffering greatly. Countless lives have been lost or destroyed since October 2001, and the country’s social, institutional and commercial infrastructures are now in a mess.
US troops started to move through Shannon in 2001, and in response, people from all over Ireland came to protest. The troops are still going through Shannon - over 600 of them a day going to and from Afghanistan. Shannonwatch are asking people to return to Shannon on Sunday October 9th 2011 at 2pm to protest against this ongoing mis-use of the airport (along the road into the airport (at the small roundabout under the "Welcome to Shannon Airport" sign).
For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or ph 087 822508, see also website www.shannonwatch.org
Irish Peace Centres reports, seminar
The Irish Peace Centres consortium is a collaborative partnership of three longstanding peace charities with a track record of 115 years in reconciliation across the island of Ireland. The project is funded by Peace III programme under Priority 1.1 from June 2008 until December 2011. The consortium is led by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with Corrymeela Community and Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.
The concept behind the consortium is that we can be greater than the sum of our parts by working in creative collaboration to deliver our peace-building and reconciliation programmes. We see the added value of working in close partnership where each organisation can develop and share their expertise, knowledge and experience to strengthen the impact of our reconciliation work.
The peace and reconciliation programmes delivered by the consortium are complemented by reflective, or action-based, research conducted through a variety of methods which further embeds the impact of peace and reconciliation interventions. Action research involves deep enquiry into professional actions. By examining peace-building work, seeking improvements, and working with others to formulate new plans for action in the future, it can improve the work practices of the peace-building sector. It is a way of learning from the work through a series of reflective stages. Action is followed by critical reflection, and reflection is followed by action in a cyclical manner. Better understanding from each cycle directs the way to improved actions. In this way, Irish Peace Centres adopts a process that is responsive and flexible. Research studies are refined as more is learnt about an issue – the cyclical process provides more chances for learning from previous experience. It therefore enables the correction of errors gone before.
Irish Peace Centres attaches great importance to capturing and sharing lessons learned with others in peace-building in Northern Ireland and internationally by means of seminars, publications, conferences and exchanges. Irish Peace Centres has published ten research publications as part of the "Experiential Learning" series, including The Evaluation of Storytelling as a Peace-Building Methodology which is the outcome of a joint initiative between INCORE, the International Conflict Research Institute at the University of Ulster.
Experiential learning papers from Irish Peace Centres (Peace III) Programme
All papers published to date are available to download from our website:
PEACE2TALK: Combatants for Peace from Israel and Palestine, Paper No.1, November 2009
Intergenerational aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict, paper No.2, March 2010
Prejudice and Pride: the transactions of a conference, Paper No.3, May 2010
Faith and Positive Relations: Studying Faith, Practising Peace, Paper No.4, September 2010
The Evaluation of Storytelling as a Peace-Building Methodology, Paper No.5, November 2010
Being the Other: transactions of a theological conference, Paper No.6, September 2011
The LGBT communities experience of Faith and Church in Northern Ireland, Paper No.7, September 2011
The Irish Peace Centres’ Sustainable Peace Network, Paper No.8, October 2011
Irish Peace Centres’ Integrated Approach to Peace-Building, Paper no.9, October 2011
Issues for Peace Practitioners in Interface Work in Northern Ireland, Paper No.10, October 2011
Seminar on Northern Irish Identity and Peace-building
A workshop was facilitated at the Irish Peace Centres’ International Summer School by Paddy Logue and the guest speaker was Evanthia Lyons, Head of the School of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Research in Political Psychology at QUB.
Evanthia posed the question: is a Northern Irish Identity helpful to building peace? She thought not. First of all it is likely to mean different things to different sections and sub-groups within Northern Ireland and therefore be a cause for misunderstanding or even dispute rather than a promoter of peace. Secondly there are many levels of identity e.g. national, ethnic, regional, local and European and there are likely to be perceptions of incompatibility within these and most importantly it is difficult to determine whether Northern Ireland identity would be considered a national, ethnic, regional or geographical identity. Thirdly national identity is usually defined in terms of the emotional, cultural attachment to the imagined community of the nation and symbols and emotion are not firm ground for building peace. Members of the two main communities in Northern Ireland already have allegiance to a set of symbols and would be difficult for them to accept that they need to or have a reason to change them.
It would be much better in building peace to concentrate on the concept of citizenship and seek a socially just society where the rights of the individual are respected and resources are fairly distributed. Although citizenship is a legal concept it can also be understood as a social psychological concept as individuals and groups would have their own everyday understandings of what it means to be a citizen of a particular legal entity.
A thoughtful and engaged discussion followed. Among the points made and questions raised were:
Is there really a new consciousness of a NI identity or is it a passing fad?
Does it sit more comfortably with Protestants than Catholics? Some thought the former.
Some speakers stated flatly that their community or constituency retained strongly the British and Irish identities.
There is no soul or belongingness to the notion of citizenship.
NI identity was welcomed by a growing number because of the pride people felt in overcoming the legacy of the past and creating a post-conflict society.
Citizenship and the struggle for justice and equality could go hand in hand with strongly felt notions of national identity. It wasn’t either or.
The citizenship model made it easier for new identities to fit into and take part in such a struggle and was more in keeping with the fluid modern world.
Such was the interest and passion of the debate it was requested that a further session and follow up discussion should be organised in the Autumn. A joint Centre for Research in Political Psychology (CRESSP) and Irish Peace Centres’ seminar will be held in the Canada Room in QUB on November 2nd 2011 from 1.00pm until 5.30pm entitled: “The increasing use of Northern Irish identity: does it matter for peace?” The panel of academics at this include Karen Trew, Centre for Research in Political Psychology on the positive idea and trends of NI identity, Evanthia Lyons, Director of Centre of Research in Political Psychology, on the positive notion of citizenship, and Dominic Bryan, Institute of Irish Studies, on comparing and contrasting. The panel of peace practitioners contributing include Adie Bird, Lisburn Prisoners Support Project, Kate Clifford, Rural Community Network, David McMillan, Presbyterian minister and Peter Sheridan, CEO Co-operation Ireland. For further information, please contact Paddy Logue on email@example.com