Afri Féile Bride (Kildare), Louie Bennett gathering (Dublin)
Afri’s Féile Bride peace conference, theme “The Light of Peace”, takes place on Saturday, 10th February, in the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town; it is organised in partnership with the Brigidines and Cairde Bríde. Further details will be available on the Afri website at www.afri.ie
l Also organised by Afri, an informal annual gathering remembering Louie Bennett and her companion Helen Chenevix takes place on Sunday 7th January at 1pm at the memorial bench for them in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. There will be a presentation of flowers and conversation. “In the dark days of winter, in an ever-darker world of destruction and vengeance, Louie Bennett reminds us of a life lived well through often equally appalling times. She worked for peace throughout World War I with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). From a Church of Ireland background, she ardently pursued Irish freedom whilst unapologetically warning her fellow leaders against militarism and violence. A champion of women’s suffrage, she was a founder of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, and the first woman elected President of the Irish Trades Union Congress.
In the 1950s she confronted the pressures of the Cold War, stoutly defending neutrality and peaceful conflict resolution just as we need to do today. She would have no truck with Official Ireland’s mythical Island of Saints and Soldiers: she made Brigid Patron of the IWWU, and named her home after the woman who sold her father’s sword to feed the dispossessed.”
Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb exhibition, Linen Hall, Belfast
The vertical gallery at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, has a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb exhibition running from Monday 8th January to 28th February, admission free. This exhibition is produced by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum including photos and artefacts. There is a launch event on 8th January at 4pm, booking essential. While they state that the exhibition ends on a hopeful note with how the two cities have risen from the ashes to spread a message of peace, they also say the exhibition contains content some may find distressing. Further info at www.linenhall.com
Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report
If there are lies, damned lies and statistics, then the NI Peace Monitoring Report, No.6 of which appeared in December weighing in at 184 pages, is the nearest you can get to to an accurate and in depth picture of where the North is at…and how things are progressing – or not – over time. It pulls together and interprets published material from many sources and covers four areas; political progress; sense of safety; wealth, poverty and inequality; and cohesion and sharing. It is published by the Community Relations Council, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and this issue was authored by ARK from Ulster University and covers the period 2018-23 (the first one appeared in 2012). All issues are available at https://www.community-relations.org.uk/publications/northern-ireland-peace-monitoring-report Note that the latest issue appears last in the six PDF links given there.
l Meanwhile for the first time since 1969 there were no Troubles-related deaths in the last year, according to the PSNI https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/no-security-related-deaths-in-ni-for-first-time-since-records-began-says-psni/a934436965.html
CAJ Annual Report
The detailed and extensive work done by CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice over the last year appears in their annual report, available at https://caj.org.uk/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2023/ A couple of photos from the AGM at which the report was presented are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53393845666/in/dateposted/ and the entry beside that.
ICCL on toxic algorithms
On 18th December the European Commission launched formal proceedings against Twitter / X for suspected infringements of the EU Digital Services Act. It will now investigate whether the Blue Tick deceives users, whether content that breaks the law is spread by the platform, and whether the platform is unlawfully non-transparent. Welcoming this development, ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties has said the European Commission should learn from the example of Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new broadcasting and online regulator. ICCL has sent the European Commission a report urging it to follow Coimisiún na Meán’s example and switch off Big Tech’s toxic algorithms across the European Union. ICCL went on to say “Algorithmic “recommender systems” select emotive and extreme content and show it to people who the system estimates are most likely to be outraged. These outraged people then spend longer on the platform, which allows the company to make more money showing them ads. These systems are acutely dangerous. Just one hour after Amnesty’s researchers started a TikTok account posing as a 13-year-old child who views mental health content, TikTok’s algorithm started to show the child videos glamourising suicide.” https://www.iccl.ie/2023/the-european-commission-must-follow-irelands-lead-and-switch-off-big-techs-toxic-algorithms/
Amnesty welcomes Irish government action on NI Troubles Act
Amnesty International has been among the many many bodies to comment on the Irish government’s move on the Northern Ireland Troubles (Reconciliation and Legacy) Act 2023, referring the matter to the European Court of Human Rights; most comments in Ireland, North and South, were favourable to this. Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, said: “The Irish Government is doing the right thing for victims, for the rule of law and for the upholding of human rights. Victims’ rights to truth, reparations and justice must be realised. This challenge is vital for victims here and around the world, who face the prospect of similar state-gifted impunity. The UK Government doggedly pursued this legislation which shields perpetrators of serious human rights violations from being held accountable. It’s important that the Irish Government takes this stand. This State-level challenge is very welcome and made necessary by the UK government’s actions. Victims should be at the heart of how the ‘Troubles’ is addressed, not swept to the side with denial of rights imposed. We hope this critical litigation will bring all Troubles victims closer to the justice they deserve.” https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Northern-Ireland
Tools for Solidarity: Tanzanian developments
Tools for Solidarity (TFS) works in Tanzania in solidarity with a local governmental organisation named SIDO (Small Industries Development Organisation). In 2022 the SIDO office in the Iringa Region expressed the wish of having a centre similar to the one TFS had opened two years before in Njombe. This was the starting point of the Iringa Artisan Support and Training Centre (IASTC), officially inaugurated during a field visit by two TFS staff last May. The focus of the newly established centre is to supply tools, sewing machines and machinery to artisans, providing also technical and sewing training and back up service supports. More news about TFS associated work in Tanzania, and other aspects of TFS work, can be found in their latest newsletter, see https://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/publications/newsletters/
Tools For Solidarity is a not-for-profit organisation based in Belfast. It is fully run by international, local and supported volunteers with the main focus to support artisans in the poorest parts of the world. TFS collects, refurbishes and ships out hand tools, sewing machines, machinery and accessories to communities, women’s groups, people with disabilities and vocational training colleges primarily in sub Sahara Africa.
Feasta: Unprecedented demand for its research and advocacy
Feasta reports growing active interest in relation to its goals. They say that “Global and transnational calls for economic system change ‘beyond growth’ are becoming far more widespread, with prominent international NGOs such as Oxfam, Friends of the Earth International, Caritas and Greenpeace taking up the cause. A major cross-party conference on the theme was held at the European Parliament in May and was packed with enthusiastic young people. There is significant new EU funding for post-growth research now, and the UN’s Secretary-General has joined the chorus of those calling for new measurements of economic progress” and that “Feasta’s research and advocacy on economic system change is in unprecedented demand.” Learn more about Feasta’s work and approach at https://www.feasta.org/