News, December 2022

A force for good?

A force for good? Reflections on neutrality and the future of Irish defence” is a new 62 page pamphlet from Afri, launched in Leinster House at the end of November. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Irish foreign policy and contribution towards peace in the world. The contributions include a preface by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire (who also writes another piece on ‘The true cost of violence and war’). The pamphlet’s substantial input includes a detailed account by Karen Devine of Frank Aiken’s legacy and lessons for the conflict in Ukraine. John Maguire contributes an open letter to Lt-General Seán Clancy, Irish Chief of Staff, Tarak Kauff surveys Irish neutrality as a global force for peace, Iain Atack and Carol Fox consider some other important details of the situation, before John Maguire considers the woolly thinking behind the Commission on the Defence Forces report. The pamphlet ends with the Downpatrick Declaration.

This pamphlet clearly analyses the Irish government’s drift to NATO membership and EU militarisation while reflecting on positive policies for peace in the past (Frank Aiken) and considering how Ireland could play a meaningful role in European and world peace in the future. Paper copies are available from Afri at €10 including postage at https://www.afri.ie/donate/ It will be on the Afri website in due course. Afri , 8 Cabra Road, Dublin D07 T1W2, email admin@afri.ie and website www.afri.ie

Palestine: New Irish Anti-Apartheid Campaign launched

The Irish Anti-Apartheid Campaign for Palestine has called on Ireland and the international community to publicly recognise that the State of Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, and to take concrete measures to end this crime against humanity. The coalition, made up of 18 civil society organisations, trade unions and academic experts committed to working collaboratively to end Israeli apartheid against Palestinians, was launched in late November in Dublin by Independent Senator Frances Black, a long-time campaigner for Palestinian rights. Groups involved are: Academics for Palestine, Action Aid Ireland, Afri, Amnesty International Ireland, Centre for Global Education, Comhlámh/Comhlámh Justice for Palestine, Gaza Action Ireland, Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Jews for Palestine, Kairos Ireland, Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, SIPTU, TCD BDS,Trade Union Friends of Palestine, and Trócaire. See https://www.trocaire.org/news/new-irish-anti-apartheid-campaign-calls-on-ireland-to-take-action-on-israeli-apartheid-against-palestinians/ and web search.

The Steel Shutter revisited: Northern Ireland encounter, 1972

A Belfast conference on 1st December 2022 looked at the encounter group workshop of precisely fifty years previously involving four Belfast Protestants and four Belfast Catholics (including facilitation by ‘the’ Carl Rogers). The 2022 conference was organised by Michael Montgomery of PeaceFire www.peacefire.us and the original one hour ‘Steel Shutter’ film is available on this website. The conference examined numerous aspects of encounter groups and storytelling and their ongoing relevance for conflict situations and divided societies. See also https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52536717565/in/dateposted/

H&W militarise again

There was a time that Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast made British naval ships, possibly the last was HMS Fearless which was completed in 1965. Unfortunately it looks like H&W may be returning to this practice of making ships for the Royal Navy. While it is not a done deal yet, an announcement in mid-November indicated that 3 new British navy supply ships, each 216 metres long, in a £1.6 billion contract may see the final assembly taking place at Harland and Wolff which forms part of a preferred bid by a consortium of three UK firms. If proceeding work may begin in 2025 and of course there will be many jobs created but jobs contributing to ongoing militarisation. Word search online for more information.

Protests in Cork at Dutch navy visit

At the end of November, protests were held by the Irish Neutrality Campaign at visits to Cork by 4 warships from NATO member the Netherlands (including their largest naval ship). See https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/arid-41015759.html and https://tripeanddrisheen.substack.com/p/four-dutch-naval-vessels-dock-in Protesters pointed out that the Netherlands has supported NATO belligerance and the visit was a breach of Irish neutrality. In addition, PANA, www.pana.ie, pointed out that “The recent Fine Gael Ard-Fheis passed a motion effectively to scrap the Triple Lock on sending Irish soldiers on overseas missions, by eliminating the need for a UN mandate for such missions. Rather than equip our forces appropriately for genuine defence and UN-directed peacekeeping, our government seems intent on merging them with EU/NATO ventures such as PESCO, Battlegroups etc.”

Swords to Ploughshares: Human and ecological security

The hour long recording of the StoP/Swords to Ploughshares webinar in early November on “Human and ecological security: an alternative to war and militarism” is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpcK1QYLk6M Speakers were Diana Francis, John Maguire and John Lannon.

Ukraine war used to justify arms race

In the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, western governments pledged unprecedented financial support to militarism, citing the threat posed by the war as justification. However, as the research in the report below shows, western states are already vastly superior in terms of military expenditure and defence capacity to other nations. Prior to the war the combined military spending of NATO members was 17 times that of Russia and four times that of China. Increased military spending does nothing, quite the reverse, to deal with issues of world poverty and global warming. This report by he Transnational Institute and Stop Wapenhandel, “Smoke Screen – How states are using the war in Ukraine to drive a new arms race” , is available in summary form and download link at https://www.tni.org/en/publication/smoke-screen

Afri calendars

Having a meaningful calendar around your home or work space may give you a daily lift – and a reminder of appointments. Afri produce a calendar which highlights the importance of all of us getting involved in tackling such pressing issues as climate change and militarisation. To order (at €7 per calendar plus €2.50 postage cost within Ireland) go to www.afri.ie/donate/ and click the donate button at the bottom of the page ‘donating’ the cost of your purchase and indicating the number of calendars you would like to order in the message box; remember to include your postal address. Email admin@afri.ie

WRI Prisoners for Peace

1st December and the period around then is when the War Resisters’ International particularly remembers conscientious objectors and prisoners for peace (their work to support them is all year around however). This year it has a particular focus on Russia and Ukraine – not surprisingly given the numbers imprisoned or facing imprisonment there. See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2022/2022-prisoners-peace-day and links there.

USA military empire database

World Beyond War have put together an interactive database of USA military bases worldwide. As they say “Some of these physical installations are on land occupied as spoils of war. Most are maintained through collaborations with governments, many of them brutal and oppressive governments benefiting from the bases’ presence. In many cases, human beings were displaced to make room for these military installations, often depriving people of farmland, adding huge amounts of pollution to local water systems and the air, and existing as an unwelcome presence.” See https://worldbeyondwar.org/no-bases/

CGE: Why are INGOs not talking about the global economy?

Material from the Centre for Global Education’s October workshop on why Irish NGOs are not critically engaging with issues of the global economic system, neoliberalism, as the ‘root cause’ of poverty is available at https://oneworldfestivalni.com/events/why-are-ingos-not-talking-about-the-global-economy/

2022 Pax Christi International Peace Award: Concordia

Concordia Social Projects has received the PCI 2022 peace award. The organization is present in several central and eastern European countries, and works directly to help vulnerable and disadvantaged children and their families. See https://paxchristi.net/2022/11/08/2022-pax-christi-international-peace-award-concordia-social-projects/

Chernobyl Children International

Chernobyl Children International/CCI are appealing at this time of year for financial support for their work in Ukraine and Belarus. For full information, and options to donate, see https://www.chernobyl-international.com

Cyber safety for women

Women – and men – may be interested in this very detailed cyber security guide https://www.wizcase.com/blog/comprehensive-online-security-guide-for-women/