Category Archives: Latest News

Pause for Peace on St Brigid’s Day

Pause for Peace is a call on people all around the world to stop for a minute’s silence, as a Pause for Peace, at noon (local time) on St Brigid’s Day, 1st February 2023. This call comes directly from Kildare including from Solas Bhride there https://solasbhride.ie/ While there are many stories about St Brigid she is known as as peacemaker and mediator. See also https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52652928010/in/dateposted/

Afri’s Féile Bríde conference takes place on Saturday 4th February with the title ‘Darkness, Dawning, Light’, see www.afri.ie for details.

Peace activists Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling acquitted on charge of criminal damage

 
 from Shannonwatch press release
January 25th 2023

The trial of two peace activists, Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling, ended today [25th January] at the Circuit Criminal Court in Parkgate Street, Dublin after a trial that lasted ten days.

Almost 6 years ago on 25th April 2017, the two peace activists were arrested at Shannon Airport and charged with causing criminal damage by writing graffiti on a US Navy aircraft. They were also charged with trespassing on the curtilage of Shannon Airport. The words “Danger Danger Do Not Fly” were written with a red marker on the engine of the warplane. It was one of two US Navy aircraft that had arrived at Shannon from Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia. They subsequently flew on to a US air base in the Persian Gulf having spent two overnights at Shannon.

A Detective Sergeant gave evidence at the trial that the graffiti written on the aircraft had resulted in no monetary costs. Most if not all the markings had been wiped off the aircraft before it took off again for the Middle East.

The administration of justice was a protracted affair in this case. In addition to the ten days trial in Dublin it involved the defendants and their prosecutors attending 25 pretrial hearings in Ennis Co Clare and in Dublin.

Speaking after the trial, a Shannonwatch spokesperson said “Over three million armed US troops have transited through Shannon Airport since 2001 on their way to illegal wars in the Middle East. This is in violation of Irish neutrality and international laws on neutrality.”

Evidence was given in court that Shannon Airport has also been used by the CIA to facilitate its extraordinary rendition program that resulted in the torture of hundreds of prisoners. Edward Horgan gave evidence that US military and CIA use of Shannon were also in breach of Irish laws including the Geneva Conventions (Amendments) Act, 1998, and the Criminal Justice (UN Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000. It was pointed out that at least 38 prosecutions of peace activists had taken place since 2001 while no prosecutions or proper investigations had taken place for breached on the above mentioned Irish legislation.

Perhaps the most important piece of evidence presented in the case was a 34 page folder containing the names of about 1,000 children who have died in the Middle East. This had been carried into the airport by Edward Horgan as evidence of why they had entered. It was part of a project called Naming the Children which Edward and other peace activists were undertaking in order to document and list as many as possible of the up to one million children who had died as a result of US and NATO led wars in the Middle East since the first Gulf War in 1991.

Edward Horgan read out some of the names of children killed from this list as he gave evidence, including the names of 10 children killed just three months before their peace action in April 2017.

This tragedy occurred on 29th January 2017 when newly elected US President Trump ordered a US Navy Seals special forces attack on a Yemeni village, which killed up to 30 people including Nawar al Awlaki whose father and brother had been killed in earlier US drone strikes in Yemen.

Also listed in the folder were the 547 Palestinian children who were killed in the 2014 Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Edward read out the names of four sets of twin children who were killed in these attacks. One atrocity listed in his evidence was the terrorist suicide bombing attack carried out near Aleppo on 15th April 2017, just ten day before the peace action at Shannon in which at least 80 children were killed in horrific circumstances. It was these atrocities that motivated Edward and Dan to undertake their peace action on the basis that they had a lawful excuse for their actions to try to prevent the use of Shannon Airport in such atrocities and thereby to protect the lives of some of the people especially children being killed in the Middle East.

The Jury of eight men and four women accepted their arguments that they acted with lawful excuse. Judge Martina Baxter gave the defendants the benefit of the Probation Act on the charge of Trespass, on condition that they agree to be Bound to the Peace for 12 months and make a significant donation to a Co Clare Charity.

Both peace activists have said they have no problem being “bound to the peace” and making the contribution to charity.

Meanwhile, while this trial was going on in Dublin, back at Shannon Airport, Ireland’s support for ongoing US wars in the Middle East was continuing. On Monday 23 January, a large US military C17 Globemaster aircraft registration number 07-7183 was refuelled at Shannon Airport having come from McGuire Air base in New Jersey. It then travelled on to an airbase in Jordan on Tuesday with a refuelling stop at Cairo.

The military misuse of Shannon continues.

Trial of Shannon peace activists begins on 11th January

Peace activists Dr Edward Horgan, former army Commandant and United Nations peacekeeper, originally from Tralee Co Kerry, and Dan Dowling also a native of Tralee, Co Kerry, are due to go on trial on 11th January 2023 at Dublin Circuit Court. This is as a result of an incident that occurred at Shannon Airport five years and nine months ago. The date of this incident was 25th April 2017, and there are two charges. The first alleged offence is trespass at the airport contrary to Section 11 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 as amended by the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2008. The second is criminal damage by writing graffiti to a US Navy aircraft contrary to Section 2(1) Criminal Damage Act, 1991.

Both defendants will be representing themselves and are expected to conduct a robust defence to these charges.

Since 2001 well over three million armed US soldiers and unknown quantities of weapons, munitions and other military hardware have been transported through Shannon, mainly to and from the Middle East. The US has been involved as a belligerent in several wars including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, as well as providing active support for the Saudi Arabian war in Yemen, and Israeli aggression and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. US military use of Shannon airport is in clear contravention of international laws on neutrality as well as arguably making the Irish Government complicit in breaches of the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions on War.

Speaking ahead of the trial, a Shannonwatch spokesperson said “This case is not just about the technicalities of breaches of international laws, even though these are important. The Criminal Justice (UN Convention Against Torture) Act 2000 brings the UN Convention Against Torture into Irish criminal law, and the Geneva Conventions (Amendments) Act 1998 also brings the Geneva Conventions within the scope of Irish law.”

“More seriously however, is the reality that up to five million people have lost their livers due the war related reasons across the Middle East since the early 1990s. Shockingly, it is now estimated that one million children may have lost their lives due to these unjustified wars.”

When Edward Horgan was arrested at Shannon Airport on 25th April 2017, he handed a folder to the arresting Garda officer. It contained the names of up 1,000 children who had died in the Middle East.

Post scriptum: The trial is before a jury and is taking a couple of weeks. Updates on the trial appear on the Shannonwatch website www.shannonwatch.org.

Information courtesy of Shannonwatch www.shannonwatch.org

 

Death of Brendan McAllister

Death of Brendan McAllister

We very much regret to record the death of Brendan McAllister on 13th December 2022 and send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Elizabeth, children and grandchildren, and all his family and friends. He was a long time peace and reconciliation activist in Northern Ireland, including with Corrymeela, and the following piece records various aspects of his work.

The following tribute is written by Geoffrey Corry –

Brendan grew up in Newry and got his degree in history and politics at Queens University, Belfast. He started his professional career as a Probation Officer including 2 years in Maghaberry Prison. But he always had a deeper understanding of peace and reconciliation as a committed member of the Corrymeela Community for most of his life.  He received his early mediation training from Barry Hart and John Paul Lederach, members of the peace Mennonites in North America, each of whom spent time in Belfast to share their skills to strengthen the peace movement.

The big breakthrough for him came in 1992 when he became the first Director of the Mediation Network (later to be known as Mediation Northern Ireland) and for 16 years led that organisation’s contribution to building mediation capacity within the context of the Northern Ireland Troubles. He wanted it to be an indigenous movement at street and community level, particularly across the peace lines, while using culturally sensitive and contextually nuanced mediation models. His great ability to listen and to network within circles of civic leadership meant that he was accepted among political leaders and worked with paramilitaries both inside and outside of the prisons.

Together with his mediation colleague, Joe Campbell, they became involved in mediating the Drumcree Parades dispute at the local level in 1996-9 but came up against an unwillingness by the two main parties to compromise. This experience led him to be appointed as Mediation Advisor to the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland helping them to design a scheme for the management and resolution of parade disputes including the training of a team of mediators. In 2003, Brendan became a Neighbourhood Renewal Advisor for England, working on racial tension, gang violence and social cohesion.

On the establishment of the PSNI, Brendan was instrumental in supporting police reform and getting culturally sensitive training off the ground for the new community police officers. One of his last projects with MNI was to host the European Conflict Prevention Conference in Belfast on the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in 2008.

Between 2008 and 2012, Brendan was appointed a Victims Commissioner, working with families and groups representing those with enduring trauma and distress. During his term of office, he was a principal advisor to the Government concerning the needs of victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict.He then moved to the international peace mediation field, first with the EU and ultimately as a member of the United Nations Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisors. His last job until retirement in 2020 was as the Government appointed Advocate for Victims of Historical Institutional Abuse.

On Sunday 30th January 2022 started a new chapter in his life – on his retirement. After four years of formation, Rev Brendan McAllister was ordained in Armagh Cathedral as a deacon for the Diocese of Dromore.

Peace groups in Ireland through the years

In 2022, INNATE published a 15-page chronological listing of around sixty peace groups in Ireland since the 19th century and this has been updated for 2023. 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; click on the link below.

Click on Irish peace groups listing 2023

INNATE is happy to update and correct this listing – please contact/send info to innate@ntlworld.com