Make a start on building a peaceful future with StoP
StoP, Swords to Ploughshares, is an all-island network working to oppose the arms trade and militarisation in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. It meets remotely every six weeks or so and therefore anyone can join in. It also organises seminars and demonstrations, with some events online including webinars on EU militarisation and Irish neutrality https://youtu.be/mqniPJg70xU and on human and ecological security https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpcK1QYLk6M Both individuals and groups can be involved. StoP is currently looking for a volunteer coordinator as this rotates; in terms of work there is probably the equivalent of under a day a month. Please contact StoP at email@example.com if you are interested in being informed about StoP meetings and events or if you might be interested in the role of volunteer coordinator. More information about StoP can be found at: https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/SToPIreland/
CAJ: Retirement of Brian Gormally, misogyny, housing
A new director will be announced soon for CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice following the imminent retirement of Brian Gormally who has been in post for over a decade. Meanwhile CAJ’s newsletter, Just News, can be read online and the February issue includes coverage of an Equality Coalition seminar on the Scottish model for preventing misogynist crime where an official report recommends a stand alone act on the issues. Also included is a report on paramilitary housing intimidation which can be sectarian and/or racist. See https://caj.org.uk/publications/our-newsletter/just-news-february-2023/ CAJ’s annual report for 2022 is available at https://caj.org.uk/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2022/
Glebe House volunteer workcamp, 29th May to 8th June
Glebe House is a peacebuilding focused residential and day activity centre, owned by Harmony Community Trust, in the Strangford area. Glebe House has been active for nearly 50 years and opportunities for young people and adults are provided to be part of a truly Shared Space. Working with Voluntary Service International, applications are invited for volunteers for a fun but busy workcamp. The ten-day opportunity will attract volunteers from across Ireland, the UK and further afield to come to work together to support HCT in preparing its beautiful 16 acre site for the busy summer ahead and around its Fun Day which will be held in the middle of the workcamp. Applications are welcome from all, but some people with disabilities may find being a full part of the camp challenging due to the work to be done, but Glebe House is open to seeing how that may be accommodated. Applications only through the SCI website https://www.workcamps.sci.ngo/icamps/camp-details/15579.html. Further information can be obtained from Andrew McCracken, Director at Glebe House email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call or zoom.
Organic Centre Rossinver
The Organic Centre nestled in the heart of rural Rossinver, Leitrim looks forward to 2023 with the hope of brighter days ahead. As an educational charity, it specialises in promoting all things organic, sustainable living and biodiversity. The Organic Centre was founded in 1995 by local organic growers, and farmers. Developed on a 19-acre green field site at the foot of limestone hills beside Lough Melvin, it became a pioneering organisation, at the forefront of organic growing, and action for climate change. From the beginning there were 6 weekend courses which took place in 1997. Now, the centre looks forward to almost 100 courses ranging from growing to recycling workshops, stone wall building, cheese making, cob oven building and more.
The calendar year hosts more than 6 free events including Biodiversity Day, and Apple Day. And coming soon is the well-loved Potato Day, a free family friendly event, on Sunday 5th March from 12-4pm, a great place to buy your potato seeds, with demonstrations, tours, and an onsite craft and food market. The Centre is delighted to launch its new seed collection, one of the biggest suppliers of organic seeds and one of the most diverse range nationally. Visit https://www.theorganiccentre.ie/page/whats-on-5 for more information on Potato Day.
The centre also hosts a one-year, full time fully funded course in organic horticulture, an opportunity to learn and be part of a movement, as policy makers nationally and internationally now begin to recognise the importance of organic agriculture for planet and health. The MSLETB Level 5 in Organic Horticulture closes for applications soon. Click on https://msletb.ie/further-education-and-training-fet/search-courses/?sfcw-courseId=361215 to find out more and register. Organise a tour of the centre as an away day with your work, school or family. Just ring 0719854338. You can for a walk on the new Fowleys Falls trail that now links up with the Organic Centre, a perfect day out. The Grass Roof Cafe with vegetarian and vegan menu, open every weekend is being run by inspiring young chef, Thien Laitenberger.
Check out the Organic Centre’s website and social media channels for more information on courses, events, and the onsite and online shop including Zero Waste and Craft sections. https://www.theorganiccentre.ie/
Reflections after the first St Brigid’s Day holiday: Afri Féile Bríde
The first annual bank holiday celebrating an Irish women, Brigid, took place on 6th March in the Republic and a couple of days earlier was Afri’s 30th Féile Bríde. Afri is working to ensure that aspects of Brigid’s life such as peacemaking and caring for the planet are not ironed out of the picture. https://www.afri.ie/category/reflections-from-feile-bride–2023/#more-79759 gives a short resume of the Afri approach and a link to an 11-minute video of the programme at the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare; this includes an appreciation of Brigid by Adi Roche. Meanwhile a short report and clip on St Brigid’s visit to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on her feast day, calling for peacemaking action by the Irish government, can be seen at https://www.afri.ie/category/brigid-calls-for-peace-on-st-brigids-day/
Corrymeela: Horizons Volunteer Programme
The Corrymeela Horizons Volunteer Programme is an opportunity to spend a year living at the Ballycastle Centre welcoming groups, providing hospitality and delivering programmes for groups from different backgrounds, enabling them to explore how to live well together. During the year, Corrymeela provides support and training to enable the Horizon volunteers to develop their skills in working with a wide range groups. Former volunteers say that their experience was personally life enriching for them, whilst also benefiting them in their future lives and careers. Further details at https://www.corrymeela.org/volunteer and the closing date is 10th March.
There is much more information on the Corrymeela website about forthcoming events, the ongoing programmes, news, resources, and full information about the meeting facilities available at the Ballycastle Centre. https://www.corrymeela.org/
British Royal Navy supply ship visits Belfast prior to H&W building
Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Tidesurge visited Belfast in mid-February as part of preparation for 3 new massive support ships being constructed at Harland and Wolff in the period 2025-2032. The role played by such ships in the British war machine was detailed by the captain of RFA Tidesurge, Karl Woodfield, in saying “We are part of the carrier strike group which enables the Royal Navy to deploy worldwide without any host nation support. It gives the Royal Navy its global reach.” https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/royal-fleet-auxiliary-ship-visits-belfast-ahead-of-support-vessels-contract-work/1924180595.html
ICCL on policing oversight, and on hate crime bill The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has written to the Oireachtas Justice Committee urging them to ensure that new proposals for improved Garda oversight are strengthened. The Policing Security and Community Safety Bill includes the establishment of a Police Ombudsman to replace the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), as well as an expanded Policing and Community Safety Authority, and a new Independent Examiner of Security Legislation. ICCL said that new Garda oversight bodies must have the powers and independence to ensure Gardaí operate within the law and with respect for human rights. They have raised a number of issues including exceptions which they consider too broad, and have pushed for the new Police Ombudsman to have the right to search garda stations. ICCL also said the Commission on the Future of Policing could not have been clearer regarding the need to take prosecution powers away from Gardaí. Independent prosecutors should take cases. ICCL also raised the need for An Garda Síochána to start collecting and publishing data on its interactions with different minority groups, such as migrants and the Traveller community. Read ICCL's briefing to the Oireachtas Justice Committee at https://www.iccl.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/230216-ICCL-Briefing-on-Policing-Security-and-Community-Safety-Bill-2023.pdf
l The Hate Crime Coalition, of which ICCL is a prominent part, has also welcomed the progress of the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence of Hatred and Hate Offences Bill) 2022. However ICCL Policy Officer and Chair of the Coalition, Luna Lara Liboni, has said ““If the legislation is to be effective, it is essential that it is properly implemented and reviewed. We are calling for a comprehensive review of the legislation within five years involving all relevant stakeholders, including impacted communities, civil society and criminal justice actors.” www.iccl.ie/
De Borda on beyond Brexit binary binds
A short paper, written by Peter Emerson, on “If but Brexit hadn’t been binary” is available on the de Borda Institute website http://www.deborda.org/home/2023/2/13/2023-5-if.html This looks at the mistakes made and how the issue could be reviewed using a multi-option ballot. There are many other resources on the same website.
FOE: Solar panels for schools
Thanks to work by schools and campaigning by Friends of the Earth, bureaucratic barriers to install solar panels on schools have been removed (in the Republic). Not only that, but the Government has now promised to provide funding for solar panels on every school. A short cartoon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdWsgSuMwao is available from FOE and it provides info and urges people to contact the Minister for Education to ensure the promise is met promptly. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/
l It’s International Global Climate Strike Day on 3rd March, word search for details.
Disruptive Women arpilleras exhibition
From now until 5th August there is an exibition of arpilleras on the topic of Disruptive Women, spread across three venues – the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Flowerfield Arts Centre (Portstewart) and Ulster University Magee Campus Library (Derry). The arpilleras are from Conflict Textiles and Fundació Atenau Sant Roc, looking at women who have broken the mould, challenging violence and human rights abuses and working for justice and fairness. There will be associated events in the different locations. https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/conflicttextiles/