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(Issues 58-107)
(Issues 1 to 57)
Dawn Train

Number 255: December 2017

Constitutional right to environmental protection

In an exciting change in the Republic, the High Court has recognised for the first time a constitutional right to environmental protection "that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens at large”. This was in relation to a case taken by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) regarding Dublin airport. In his lengthy judgement, Mr Justice Barrett said (para 264):"A right to an environment that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens at large is an essential condition for the fulfilment of all human rights. It is an indispensable existential right that is enjoyed universally, yet which is vested personally as a right that presents and can be seen always to have presented, and to enjoy protection, under Art. 40.3.1 of the Constitution. It is not so utopian a right that it can never be enforced.”


A spokesperson for FIE said: "The judgement is timely in light of the unprecedented threats to the environment and human life posed by climate change. We expect this decision to have profound implications beyond the scope of this case. The state now has a duty to protect the environment in a way that is consistent with this newly established right." See for more information or phone 027-74771 (or 087 2176316), also

Corrymeela events, Colin Craig departs
Colin Craig retired as Executive Director of Corrymeela at the end of September after many different roles over the years, with Corrymeela and other organisations, including over a decade as Corrymeela Centre Director. A feature and tributes to Colin appear in the current issue (Vol 17 No.2) issue of ‘Corrymeela’ magazine.

The second annual Carafest Festival of Faith and Reconciliation will take place at Corrymeela Ballycastle from Friday 30March to Monday 2 April 2018. As before there will be a wide range of speakers, poets and musicians – the line up will be confirmed when booking opens on 10th January. The ‘Cara’ in Carafest comes from the Irish and Scots Gaelic for ‘friend’ and has been chosen because the word reconciliation means ‘to become friends again’.

A variety of other open events are taking place including a winter school exploring heritage practice in contested societies, “Heritage as Reconciliation”, from Monday 15th January to Friday 19th January. Details at Other events include ‘Corrymeela Learning seminars’ with a variety of topics (next one 12th December on LGBTQ visions of peace), a prayer and reflection series (next one 10th December), and Public Theology and Reconciliation events. An advent series at the Belfast office on ‘Border crossings in the Nativity stories’ takes place at 7pm on 4th, 11th and 18th December. See the

Consensual Decision Making manual launch, Derry

St Columb’s Park House in Derry have coming up the launch of a manual on Consensual Based Decision Making. This was developed from a pilot project that promoted the use of Consensual Based Decision Making within councils, communities and also consultations. The project specifically used the Modified Borda Count, promoting this as a tool to deal with contentious issues or to include minority voices in decision making. The launch is on Friday 15th December from 11am until 12.30pm at St. Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Road, Derry-Londonderry BT47 6JY. Please RSVP if wishing to attend: or


This is a collaborative project between the Law Schools of Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University (and the Transitional Justice Institute there) along with the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ). The project will examine the constitutional, conflict transformation, human rights and equality consequences of Brexit. The main outputs of this project will take the form of 6 policy reports, each examining a different theme: the peace process, North-South relations, border controls and free movement, xenophobia and racism, socio-economic rights, and wider human rights and equality issues. Along with these reports, the project team will disseminate information through various outlets, including blog posts, news articles and media interviews, videos, and academic research articles. Six Preliminary Papers can be found on the Brexit Law NI


Section 75’ research and project launch, Belfast

Tuesday 12th December from 10.30am - 12.30pm at UNISON, 165 York Street, Belfast, BT15 1GD, RSVP: if wishing to attend. The statutory equality duty in section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 was one of the safeguards in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement which was actually implemented. There has, however, been a concern for some time among members of the Equality Coalition that, notwithstanding significant pockets of good practice, the equality duty is regularly flaunted by many public authorities.


Research conducted by the Equality Coalition has overviewed the application and impact of the enforcement powers over the section 75 equality duties, documenting their scope, usage and precedents set whilst making recommendations to civil society and the Equality Commission as to how the powers could be used more effectively in future. This event will launch CAJ’s new ‘Equality Duty Enforcement Project’ which has appointed a coordinator and will work to assist Equality Coalition member groups and others in taking complaints and other interventions to ensure the equality duty is complied with. The Equality Coalition, co-convened by UNISON and CAJ, is the umbrella representative body for the equality sector, composed of NGOs and trade unions from all of the section 75 categories and beyond. The research will be presented with discussion to follow. and


Let there be – solar – light
Afri is again making the option available of people purchasing solar lights as gifts to families in Kenya, meaning those who do not have electricity will benefit in terms of health (avoiding kerosene), income and learning (light at night time). €15 buys one and you receive a gift card or buy more than one and a midwife will also benefit. Details at

Mairead Maguire on disarmament, Yemen
The text of a speech by Mairead Maguire at a conference in Rome on “Perspectives for a world free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament” can be found at

Mairead Maguire was one of the Nobel women peace laureates to call, 27th November, for an end to the Saudi and Emirates-led coalition blockade of Yemen; “This blockade denies millions of vulnerable and innocent civilians access to food, fuel and medical supplies. It further aggravates what the United Nations has called the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ to date...”, see


Peace Forest Ireland

The Peace Forest Ireland Project involves the creation of a peace forest stretching throughout the counties north and south of the border, and besides the planting of peace trees it aims to bring people together to better understand and share in the richness of cultural diversity and biodiversity of their communities. The first trees were planted in 2014 and 4,000 peace trees have been planted in 2017 in memory of all those who lost their lives in the Northern Ireland conflict. It is hoped to re-launch the project early in the new year, and build its structure and capacity - during 2018 it is intended to plant a tree for each child born in the border counties in the year 2017. See or phone John Haughton at 085 2536650.


State should stop incentivising environmentally damaging forestry
The Environmental Pillar has argued strongly for support towards more sustainable native tree cover initiatives, and not for environmentally-damaging monoculture.

Chernobyl survivor appointed to CCI board

A leading Belarusian-born volunteer worker and campaigner for the rights of victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Julie Shynkarenka. has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Chernobyl Children International (CCI) charity. She personally suffered serious medical effects from Chernobyl and came to Ireland in 2002. There are now 9 people on the CCI board CCI’s Board including businesswoman Ali Hewson and former Minister Liz O’Donnell, while the Board is chaired by Chartered Accountant Peter Lacy, and Adi Roche is Voluntary CEO. More news and information at


WRI Prisoners for Peace, video
The War Resisters’ International (WRI) produces an annual list of Prisoners for Peace, available on the WRI website at including information about sending messages of support for people behind bars for taking a stand for peace. Meanwhile a short video about WRI’s work is available at on Vimeo at and towards the bottom of this page on the WRI website. There is much more valuable information on the website and a link to the countering the Militarisation of Youth programme, and War Profiteers News. www.wri-irg.orgI WRI also welcomes financial support for its work – click on ‘Support us’ on the website. INNATE is an affiliate of WRI.

EPA report highlights total failure to tackle air pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) damning indictment of the Irish transport system's contribution to poor air quality underlies the urgent need to move away from polluting diesel and petrol vehicles. The transport sector accounts for 21 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, with private cars accounting for over half of total transport emissions – and the Citizen’s Assembly has been told that the number of cars on Irish roads is predicted to increase from 2 million in 2016 to over 3 million in 2050 in line with the economic recovery. The Environmental Pillar supports the EPA's call for "a transition in our modes of transport away from the use of the private diesel and petrol powered motor cars" to a more sustainable model. There was even a failure to equalise the cost of diesel and petrol in the 2018 budget.

Shrinking civil society space for women
A report on the Women Peacemakers Program website looks at how securitised frameworks of counter-terrorism and militarism undermine women civil society and contribute to “shrinking civil society space”. It is a report on an event marking the 17th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325.


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