News, September 2023

Tangled web of lies from Irish governments

For decades the government of the day has always sought to assure citizens that Irish neutrality, prized by said citizenry, is safe, despite doing everything they could to undermine it. Training in demining for the Ukrainian army was non-lethal, they said, rather dubiously. However assurances that support to Ukraine was solely non-lethal have fallen apart with the revelation that support being offered includes military tactics and training in shooting and marksmanship. The Irish Neutrality League stated that if this proceeds “it will represent an unprecedented contravention of Ireland’s already seriously compromised neutrality.” https://neutrality.ie Questions have also arisen about what the limited number of Irish soldiers got up to in Afghanistan. With the report from Louise Richardson on the June ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ due in the near future there are likely to be further assaults on neutrality such as the ‘triple lock’ on deployment of Irish troops overseas. However one picket on the Department of Foreign Affairs has already taken place and further actions will follow. See also editorial in this issue

Advancing Nonviolence: Pax Christi Ireland

On Saturday 14th October, 10.30am – 2.00pm (registration 10am) there will be an event run by Pax Christi Ireland in conjunction with The Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) which is a project of Pax Christi International. The main speakers are Pat Gaffney and Marie Dennis (the latter remotely) along with a panel on different aspects of nonviolence. The venue is the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, and booking details will be available in the October issue. Contact: Tony D’Costa, Pax Christi Ireland, email: tdc1@paxchristi.ie The CNI website is at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/

Frederick Douglass statue goes up in Belfast

A recent positive memorialisation is the erection of a statue of US former slave, antislavery activist, social reformer and pro-feminist Frederick Douglass in Lombard Street in Belfast – the first in Ireland (though there are plaques to him in Cork and Waterford). Douglass spent quite some time in Ireland and was very appreciative of the welcome and support he received. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-66358247 Perhaps next on the list can be a statue of Belfast anti-slavery activist and humanitarian Mary Ann McCracken…..

QUB+ study of Troubles trauma services

Undertaken by Queen’s University Belfast in association with others, the study “Conflict, Trauma and Mental Health – How Psychological Services in Northern Ireland Address the Needs of Victims and Survivors” was produced for the Commission for Victims and Survivors. It makes a number of detailed comments and recommendations on addressing unmet needs, and the authors state “In treating victims’ needs as societal needs, we build on a solid foundation towards a future that offers peace, prosperity and growth for all who live here.” https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/publications/conflict-trauma-and-mental-health-how-psychological-services-in-n but you may have to go through hoops to get the full report. See also https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/08/07/troubles-linked-trauma-in-north-untreated-for-decades-report-finds/

Report urges increased Northern arms trade

A report from the British Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) advocates increased Northern Ireland involvement in UK arms production, particularly highlighting the ‘big three’ of Thales, Harland and Wolff and Spirit AeroSystems but also looking at cybersecurity. See https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/occasional-papers/defence-industry-northern-ireland-leveraging-untapped-potential It advocates the North getting a larger share of the massive British arms industry, selling the proposal on ‘prosperity’ and jobs despite nationalist objections (and obviously there is no coverage of the irony of a place previously wracked by a small scale war contributing to warfare elsewhere). This item also appeared in the August news supplement

Good Relations Week, 18th – 24th September

The annual showcase of ‘good relations’ projects in the North takes place from 18th – 24th September to “celebrate the remarkable peace-building and cultural diversity efforts to tackle sectarianism, racism, and inequality across the region.” See https://goodrelationsweek.com/

ICCL Annual Report 2022

The detailed report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties on its very varied and expanding work in 2022 is available on their website at https://www.iccl.ie/?s=annual+report

CAJ: Poverty, relationships, migration, legacy

The August issue of Just News, produced by CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice https://caj.org.uk/publications/our-newsletter/just-news-august-2023/ contains important considerations well worth reading on issues as varied as the urgency of having an anti-poverty strategy in Northern Ireland, relationships and sexuality education, the Illegal Migration Act and its incompatibility with international human rights law (and particular considerations concerning the North), and the ‘notorious’ NI Legacy Bill, plus other coverage. There is also a briefing paper on the CAJ website on the Illegal Migration Act and its impact on the land border in Ireland.

Impunity and the Northern Ireland Legacy Bill

Monday 11th September from 2 – 5 pm in Belfast sees a hybrid seminar on ‘Impunity and the NI legacy bill – 50 years on from the Pinochet coup’ – exploring combatting impunity, both internationally and locally, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile. It is hosted at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and organised with CAJ, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), and the International Expert Panel on Impunity and the Northern Ireland Conflict. Both in person and online tickets are available, indicate when booking. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/impunity-and-the-ni-legacy-bill-50-years-on-from-the-pinochet-coup-tickets-695450369777

Amnesty International on surveillance of journalists in North

Amnesty International has issued succinct guidelines for journalists or human rights defenders in Northern Ireland who suspect they may have been spied upon by the PSNI. See https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/northern-ireland-journalist-guide-what-do-if-you-think-psni-has-been-spying-you

CGE: Development education and democracy webinar report

The Centre for Global Education’s June seminar on their issue of Policy and Practice on Development education and democracy is available on their website at https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/ and the issue itself at https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/

Feasta: Cap and Share, Annual Report

Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, Feasta has joined with five other NGOs on four continents to launch a new Cap and Share Climate Alliance for a fair global fossil fuel phase-out at source; see https://www.capandsharealliance.org/ Meanwhile Feasta’s annual report for 2022 is available on their website at https://www.feasta.org/annual-report/ along with lots more info.

World Beyond War (WBW) awards, conference

In their annual awards for 2023, WBW has given their Individual War Abolisher Award to Sultana Khaya, the Organizational War Abolisher Award to Wage Peace Australia, the David Hartsough Individual Lifetime War Abolisher Award to David Bradbury and the Organizational Lifetime War Abolisher Award to Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz. See https://worldbeyondwar.org/war-abolisher-awards/ and links for the compelling stories involved.

l Meanwhile WBW’s online conference #NoWar2023 Conference: Nonviolent Resistance to Militarism takes place from Friday 22nd September to Sunday 24th September. See https://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2023/ and the programme for the opening day includes a keynote speech by Jørgen Johansen and a panel on unarmed civilian protection and accompaniment.

FOE: Left out in the cold, seminar on energy poverty

Friends of the Earth has an online seminar on Monday 4th September from 7pm where they will be discussing the impacts of energy poverty and solutions to the associated crises – in the current year in Ireland the percentage of households in energy poverty reached 29%. With a mix of activists and practitioners the seminar will dig into the human impacts of this issue and what decision-makers can do to solve it, particularly in the run-up to Budget 2024. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/events/left-out-in-the-cold-a-webinar-on-energy-poverty-and-energy/

Stop Fuelling War/Cessez d’alimenter la guerre

Stop Fuelling War is a French association which exists to promote peace and disarmament, and contribute towards a world free of war, where conflict is resolved through peaceful means and where human security and human rights are prioritised over personal gain or the financial interests of the arms industry. They report “We are building on SFW’s five-year track record of promoting non-military responses to conflict resolution, presenting alternatives and working with other actors in the field……to promote non-military responses to conflict resolution and promote security based on justice, cooperation and sustainability.” Lots of useful info on their website at https://www.stopfuellingwar.org/en/

BOLD Climate Action

BOLD Climate Action is an educational project by and for older people – supported by Friends of the Earth – and has dialogue and action series starting in September. The first event is on Energy Costs, Older People and Climate Crisis, taking place in Green Street, Dublin 7 at 11am on Tuesday 12th September. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/events/energy-costs-older-people-and-the-climate/ Further sessions are on Just Transition & Older People (Tuesday 17 October, 11 am), Global Climate Justice & Older People (Tuesday 14 November, 11 am) and Intergenerational Solidarity & the Climate Crisis (Tuesday 23 Jan 2024, 11 am). bold.climate.action@gmail.com