News

St Brigid strides and strives again

At noon on St Brigid’s Day, 1st February, members of StoP (Swords to Ploughshares), accompanied by Brigid of Kildare delivered a letter, a copy of the Downpatrick Declaration and a St. Brigid Peace Cross to Minister Simon Coveney at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. StoP is a network of peace groups throughout the island of Ireland who are deeply concerned about the recent heightening of tensions between Russia and NATO, the increasing militarisation of the EU, the Irish Government’s development of a weapons industry and their increasing moves towards more militarisation.

In the context of the current tensions relating to Ukraine, the letter expressed deep disappointment that Ireland, instead of playing the role of an independent neutral arbiter, is walking in lockstep with the more militaristic voices in Europe and with NATO. StoP believes that Ireland, as a neutral country should be working for de-escalation and dialogue, not participating in a ramping up of hostilities or adding more weapons to a world already vastly over-supplied with arms. Part of the reason for Brigid’s appearance at the Department of Foreign Affairs is to ensure that St Brigid’s Day (including the new public holiday in the Republic beginning in 2023) is used to support Ireland’s role in promoting peace. Photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/51856475871/in/photostream/ and video at https://www.facebook.com/afriireland/videos/743625159944103

Afri’s Féile Bríde: Moving towards the light….Conflict and climate

The annual Féile Bríde will take place online on Saturday, February 5th from 3pm to 5 pm. This year’s theme is “Moving towards the Light: Meeting the Challenges of Conflict and Climate”. Afri sayWe are inspired by the way in which so many young people, especially, have taken up the challenge of tackling the climate issue and are demanding action from governments that will put care for our planet central to everything we do…..We will also examine the wider issue of violence and war and how it affects people – especially in the global South.”

Some of those contributing include – Host: Ruairí McKiernan, author and activist; Lighting the Flame, Rita Minehan; Our Climate on Fire, Ciara Murphy; A Vivid Spark: The Downpatrick Declaration, John Maguire; From Darkness into Light, Richard Moore; The Fire and the Light: Abjata Khalif, freelance journalist and a development worker from Kenya and Chair of the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network; Sharing the Light of Peace, Mairéad Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate; Music by Tommy Sands. Registration is free but donations are appreciated and welcome in supporting Afri’s activism, campaigning and development education work. More info and registration link at https://www.afri.ie/category/date-for-your-diary-feile-bride-2022/ Donate upon registration or www.afri.ie/donate

World Beyond War series: Realities and consequences of war

Every Wednesday evening from 7 – 8pm from 16th February to 16th March there is a series of conversations on “Bearing witness to the reality and consequences of war” organised by the Irish chapter of World Beyond War (WBW). Details are as follows: 16th February at 7pm; Nick Buxton and Niamh Ni Bhriain (Transnational Institute, Amsterdam) with Eamon Rafter (Irish Chapter WBW), respondent: Yuri Sheliazhenko. 23rd February: Lara Marlowe (Journalist, The Irish Times) with Brian Sheridan (Irish Chapter WBW), respondent: Joe Murray (Afri). 2nd March: Malalai Joya (Human Rights Activist, Afghanistan) with Peadar King (Irish Chapter WBW), respondent: Mary McDermott, CEO Safe Ireland. 9th March: Máiread Maguire (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) with Ed Horgan (Irish Chapter WBW) respondent TBC. 16th March: Caoimhe Butterly (Irish Human Rights Activist) with John Lannon (Shannonwatch), respondent TBC. As the WBW states, “How do we bear witness to an unbearable reality?……What happens in our name, and for our comfort?…..” Inputs will be followed by contributions from the audience. Information and booking at https://worldbeyondwar.org/wednesdaywebinars/

Peace groups in Ireland through the years

INNATE has published online a 15-page chronological listing of around sixty peace groups in Ireland since the 19th century. This includes groups who have worked for peace in Northern Ireland as well as those concerned with international peace issues. It lists links and resources for those wanting to follow up the story of particular groups and is available in the Pamphlets section of the INNATE website at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/   INNATE coordinator Rob Fairmichael said “Peace movement history is important for many reasons including the inspiration that it can provide and, in the Northern Ireland context, the challenge it provides to both state and paramilitary narratives of the Troubles”. 

Responses to Ukraine crisis

Afri issued a statement about the Ukraine crisis which is available on their website at https://tinyurl.com/mr2kt28a This deplored military escalation on both sides, pointed to the real possibilities of negotiation but also the terrible toll that violence and war currently extorts. It also pointed to the role of the arms industry in conflict and the Irish government’s role in giving the USA military access to Shannon, and encouraging the arms industry. StoP, Swords to Ploughshares (the Irish network opposing the arms industry and militarisation) also issued a statement, available at https://www.facebook.com/groups/457937902289814

CAJ: Can Stormont rollback the ‘hostile environment’?

Report launch, 10.30am to 12.30pm, Wednesday 23 February 2022, Zoom (online only) Commissioned by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) Immigration Project, barrister Mark Bassett has authored a legal research paper mapping out the interface between devolved and non-devolved matters in respect of immigration and associated issues. This report examines where Northern Ireland Executive departments would have the legislative competence to push back against the hostile environment, as well as similar Home Office policies that have a detrimental impact on migrant rights. Questions to events@caj.org.uk.and register via Eventbrite and more details at https://caj.org.uk/2022/01/26/can-stormont-rollback-the-hostile-environment/

CAJ’s annual report for 2021 can be found at https://caj.org.uk/2021/12/10/caj-annual-report-2021/

AVP/Alternatives to Violence Project

A short annual report and update on AVP Ireland’s work can be found on their website at https://avpireland.ie/bye-bye-2021-welcome-2022/ AVP Ireland is a community of volunteers inside and outside prisons who run experiential workshops in conflict resolution and restorative practices; it is for anyone who wants to learn to build better relationships, prevent conflict and resolve it when it occurs and who is willing to share their skills and experience.

ICCL on hate crime

The Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland (led by ICCL) has said politicians are not hearing the voices of people who are targeted by hate crime as they legislate on the issue. The Oireachtas Justice Committee has so far conducted one session on the legislation, with no representation from key affected groups like LGBTI+ people or people with disabilities. Ahead of the publication of the bill, there is no calendar for further engagement. ICCL is also concerned that the Justice Committee Hearing focused only on hate crime and did not engage in sufficient scrutiny on the section of the legislation dealing with hate speech; it says ”though the issues are related, they are distinct and must be treated as such in law”. More details at https://www.iccl.ie/news/rights-group-calls-on-politicians-consult-communities-targeted-hate-crime/

– The current issue of ICCL’s Rights News includes a summary of work in the last year…and a look back over the 45 years of ICCL, click on the link at https://www.iccl.ie/news/rights-news-2021-45-years-of-the-human-rights-movement-in-ireland/

Seminar on Development Education and Social Justice

The Centre for Global Education (CGE)and the Centre for Global Development (UCC) invite participation in a seminar titled ‘Development Education and Social Justice’ which will debate the content of Issue 33 of “Policy and Practice” (which is on the title theme). The speakers are: Gertrude Cotter (Lecturer, UCC, Chair); Shawna Carroll (Okayama University, Japan); Eilish Dillon (Department of International Development, Maynooth University); Joyce Raanhuis (Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa). The event will be held online on Tuesday, 1st March at 12.00pm. For more info and to register see https://www.eventbrite.com/e/development-education-and-social-justice-seminar-tickets-256847938097 and CGE website is at https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/

Leinster gathering for Eco-Congregation (ECI)

Eco Journeys – Past and Future’, on Saturday 12 February from 10.30am – 12.00 noon is an event open to those in Leinster who are interested in learning how to start their church’s eco journey, work towards their ECI Award and develop their work into the future. Three faith communities who have received their ECI Award will share and there will be an opportunity for discussion, questions and ideas sharing. If you would like to attend, contact https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/ See also https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/

MLK resources from FOR USA

The Fellowship of Reconciliation in the USA has produced a new curriculum and study guide to go with their 1957 comic/graphic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story(also available from them in printed form). While some of the material is specific to the US, educators and facilitators may find other material useful, especially with or even without the book. See https://forusa.org/martin-luther-king-and-the-montgomery-story-curriculum-guide/