Category Archives: Nonviolent News

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News, February 2023

Shannon: Horgan and Dowling acquitted of criminal damage

After a ten day trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, Edward Horgan and Dan Dowling were found not guilty of criminal damage for a nonviolent action at Shannon Airport almost six years previously. 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 from Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia. They subsequently flew on to a US air base in the Persian Gulf having spent two nights at Shannon.

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 for which they were found guilty, on condition that they agree to be Bound to the Peace for 12 months and make a significant donation (€5,000 each) to a women’s refuge in Co Clare.. Both peace activists said they had no problem being “bound to the peace” and making the financial contribution (donations to charity are often used in Irish courts instead of a formal fine).

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. It was pointed out that at least 38 prosecutions of peace activists had taken place since 2001 in relation to Shannon while no prosecutions or proper investigations had taken place for breaches of Irish legislation by the US military and Irish authorities.

Meanwhile US war planes continue to refuel and stopover at Shannon. 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.” As Shannonwatch states, “The military misuse of Shannon continues.” More details at http://www.shannonwatch.org/

20th anniversary celebration of Pitstop Ploughshares

On Friday 3rd February at 6.30pm in the Teachers’ Club, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin, there is a celebration of 20 years since Pitstop Plougshares disaarmed a U.S. War Plane at Shannon en route to the invasion of Iraq. It starts with a showing of ‘Route Irish’, then speakers at 8pm, and music from Joe Black & the Roj Light at 9pm. More info: phone or text Ciaron at 083 416 2590. Free entry and there will be a bar.

Afri Féile Bríde; Darkness, Dawning, Light

The 30th Féile Bríde will be on Saturday 4th February when those speaking/performing will include Adi Roche, Emer Lynam, Adi Roche, Tommy Sands, Justine Nantal, and Luka Bloom. As usual/normal it will take place in the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town. Full details and booking information are on the Afri website at www.afri.ie The event will begin at 10.00 am with a Ceremony of Light in the Square in Kildare, and then registration at 11 am.

Social Change Initiative on tackling hate and extremism

Material from the Social Change Initiative in Belfast on tackling the far right appears on their website at https://www.socialchangeinitiative.com/extremism including material from Britain, Ireland and Greece.

CAJ: NIO ‘gaslighting’ victims

CAJ, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, and academic colleagues have strongly criticised claims by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) that the latest amendments to the UK’s legacy bill address some of the ‘principal concerns’ about the legislation. About the amendments, Daniel Holder of CAJ said “Some are just window dressing and others would actually make the bill worse. “ See https://caj.org.uk/latest/nio-gaslighting-victims-with-claims-legacy-bill-amendments-address-their-concerns/ and other items on the CAJ website.

ICCL: GDPR, Garda surveillance

ICCL has previously criticised the lack of GDPR enforcement against Big Tech, and the European Commission’s failure to monitor how the GDPR is applied since it became enforceable in 2018. The European Commission has now committed to examining every large-scale GDPR case, everywhere in Europe. It will measure how long each procedural step in a case is taking, and what the relevant data protection authorities are doing to progress the case. The Commission will do this six times per year.

ICCL is deeply concerned about some elements of the proposed Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022 and how the Bill’s passage through the Oireachtas is being managed. The Bill is part of a wider programme of reform of An Garda Síochána, which ICCL welcomes and supports. However, the Bill will also significantly expand the surveillance powers of An Garda Síochána, including covert surveillance, and ICCL is concerned that these changes are not subject to sufficient scrutiny because the Bill is being rushed through the Oireachtas. https://www.iccl.ie/

Development education and the economic paradigm

The Centre for Global Education (CGE) and Irish Development Education Association have organised an online seminar to debate the content of Issue 35 of Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review which is on the theme “Development Education and the Economic Paradigm”. The speakers are: Celina del Felice (Chair); Harm-Jan Fricke; Anders Daniel Faksvåg Haugen; and Irene Tollefsen. Tuesday, 14 February 2023 from 12.00 – 1.30pm. To register visit: https://www.ideaonline.ie/development-education-and-the-economic-paradigm CGE is at https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/

Mediation: ‘S’ questions model

An MNI training with Gerry O’Sullivan on mediation questions takes place on 17th and 18th April (online, mornings) and 24th April (face-to-face, all day in MNI offices Belfast). The focus is on knowing how to formulate and ask incisive questions to get to the core of a conflict, challenge entrenched thinking, and shift perspective.. Fee £330, booking/further info at https://mediation-northern-ireland.idloom.events/GOS

Opposition to Coillte deal with Gresham House

There has been significant publicity in the Republic about – and opposition to – a proposed deal between Irish Foresty Board semi-state Coillte and investment firm Gresham House. Word search for details. The Woodland League, for example, states they “see it as a land and public funds grab to benefit overseas investors, using Coillte as a sub-contractor with no tangible benefits to the Irish People, Farmers, or Nature” and “In fact we see in the overall Coillte Forestry Strategy target to plant an area the size of Carlow, 250,000 acres by 2050, that it will lock us into a sitka spruce nightmare for another 100 years.” A petition on the current issue is available at https://www.saveourforests.ie/ and see also https://thewoodlandleagueforestinabox.ie/

Eco Congregation Ireland annual review

https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/2023/01/29/eci-annual-review-2022-now-available/ gives a short annual review of ECI’s work. ECI encourages churches of all denominations to take an eco approach to worship, lifestyle, property and finance management, community outreach and contact with the developing world.

INNATE resources

A listing has been made of INNATE online resources available on both the main and photo/documentary sites, see https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/INNATE-online-listing-2023-for-web.pdf This includes a brief mention of archival material deposited with PRONI, the Public Record Office for NI.

lA paper by Geoffrey Corry on the evolution of Glencree is available at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Glencree-memories-1970s-G-Corry.pdf

Thales missile contract, H&W order confirmed

As well as news of a £223 million order to Thales in Belfast from the British Ministry of Defence for hand-held anti-tank weapons (NLAWS, see Nonviolent News Supplement to No.305, January), it was confirmed in mid-January that Harland and Wolff will be involved in the construction of three massive Royal Navy supply ships. https://www.harland-wolff.com/news/naval-shipbuilding-to-return-to-harland-wolff-belfast

Feasta: Wellbeing frameworks

Ireland, as elsewhere, has been developing a wellbeing framework that contains a dashboard of indicators on how Ireland is doing in many different areas, including health, education, employment and the environment. In Feasta and the EHFF’s Bridging the Gaps podcast, Seán Ó Conláin and Caroline Whyte speak with Margreet Frieling, the knowledge co-lead at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), about her experience in New Zealand. https://www.feasta.org/2023/01/31/bridging-the-gaps-2023-podcasts-on-ecology-health-well-being/

World Beyond War virtual film festival, 11-25 March

World Beyond War is showing A Force More Powerful, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, (on Liberia) and Beyond the Divide (on the division between army veterans and peace advocates). Watch the film in your own time, then join Saturday evening discussion (Irish time). Variable fees for tickets, full info at https://worldbeyondwar.org/filmfest2023/

Russia: No civilian alternative to conscription in mobilisation

No legal or practical provision exists for alternative civilian service (ACS) during mobilisation, despite the Russian Constitution guaranteeing this right for every citizen. This has led to military recruitment offices refusing applications for ACS and sending conscientious objectors to military units. Obviously this is also not an easy ‘way out’ for those called up but opposed to the war in Ukraine. See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2022/russia-no-legal-provision-alternative-civilian-service-during-mobilisation for details.

IFOR Council report

A short report on the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) Council meeting held in Juba, South Sudan, in November is available at https://www.ifor.org/news/2022/12/23/ifor-quadrennial-council-press-release-1 The Council was preceded by a public conference on “Armed Conflicts and Peaceful Transitions in Africa: Lessons from Southern Sudan and around the World”.

Death of Brendan McAllister

We very much regret to record the death of Brendan McAllister on 13th December last, after a short illness; he was inter alia first director of Mediation Northern Ireland, and former victims commissioner. He was a long time peace and reconciliation activist from Newry. See also https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/12/14/brendan-mcallister/ and the Billy King column in email/web editions of this issue.

Editorial: Neutrality – Opting in

Irish neutrality, and neutrality in general, is depicted by the powers that be as a passive opt out from the real issues of the day and shouldering the burden of keeping the peace through military means. There is, and has been, a concerted effort to depict neutrality as outdated, limited in any case (“military neutrality” only while the establishment pushes for full involvement with NATO/EU military structures), and irresponsible in the modern world.

Even a publication like The Economist (based primarily in London) has been getting in on the (rather tired) act, saying “Neutrality looks increasingly like a simplistic answer to complex geopolitical questions…..Switzerland or Ireland throwing its weight behind Ukraine is unlikely to have the same effect. [[As the USA moving from neutrality in 1941]]. But it would be a welcome decision to join the real world.” (The Economist 21/1/23) And so it goes.

We would argue that it is the militarists who refuse to join ‘the real world’. They have numerous fantasies: their faith in armaments is unshakeable; their belief that the burgeoning EU empire will be a force for good; their belief that militarisation makes you ‘safe’. All these are beliefs that are fantasies They spend enormous sums of money on the latest armaments while not dealing with the real needs of human security and justice, locally (in Europe) and globally. And it is NATO expansionism, and outdated concepts of democracy (see Peter Emerson’s article in this issue) as much as Putin’s belligerence and chauvinism which has led to the disaster that is Ukraine today, although undoubtedly Russia is the brutal aggressor.

There is no end to the war in sight for Ukraine. For Russia, which invaded Ukraine expecting an easy victory, to roll over and admit defeat would require a major change in Russia itself and specifically overturning the power of Vladimir Putin, or engineering a situation where he has no choice (nowhere near the situation currently). The death toll is currently likely to be over a hundred thousand, perhaps with the same number again wounded. How many hundred thousand more will be massacred before it ends? We do not hear the true numbers of Ukrainian military killed just as Russia downplays its numbers of dead. And so attrition and bloodbath continue, with the west seemingly willing to fight to the last drop of Ukrainian blood, and Vladimir Putin not really caring how many Russians get killed if it advances his cause.

Where do we ‘break into history’ with a mediated response or indeed with nonviolence, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent civilian defence? ‘Never’ say the militarists who project ‘peace’ as coming after the current war, and then make no moves to build peace. A case for nonviolent civilian resistance in Ukraine – and Ireland – was made in Nonviolent News previously https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/

Of course neutrality – if it is taken to be an ‘opt out’ – can be a retreat from engagement with the ‘real world’, and the more Irish neutrality is circumscribed by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and others, the more worthless it becomes. But it could be as dynamic, and even more useful, than in the time of Frank Aiken (see the Afri booklet. “A force for good? Reflections on neutrality and the future of Irish defence” and the article by Karen Devine there) who took a fearlessly independent, anti-imperialist and progressive line.

Ireland can do the same again. It does not have to stand with the big boys. While in recent decades it has stood against landmines and cluster weapons, its one remaining feature which might be considered positive for international peace is its military peacekeeping role in conflict and post-conflict situations. This has been a source of Irish pride and can be further developed with work on unarmed accompaniment and peacemaking.

Peter Emerson’s ideas, at the end of his article in this issue, about nonviolent action by state and representative figures might seem fanciful but why not? If we are committed to peaceful resolution of conflict (as stated in the Irish constitution) then why can it not be practised in new and innovative ways?

But it also needs stated that the practice and theory of mediation has developed significantly since Frank Aiken’s time and this is another area where Ireland should be active in a very significant way. Why is Ireland not involved in seeking resolutions to the war in Ukraine? Why is it not talking to Ukraine and Russia and seeing and seeking, behind the rhetoric, whether there are any prospects for at worst a ceasefire and at best a resolution? Who else is doing this seriously? There is a role there that Ireland should be playing – in relation to this and other conflicts and potential conflicts.

While involvement in mediation is voluntary, a ‘soft power’ state like Ireland can clearly indicate it does not easily take ‘no’ for an answer. In negotiation it is important to separate ‘positions’ from ‘interests’ and the negative take on possibilities represented by positions should not mean there is no possibility of getting an agreement if there are sufficient carrots, on both sides, to cater for longer term interests. Even Russia’s claims that the annexed eastern provinces of Ukraine will be forever part of Russia could be subject to negotiation and face saving, say if people there were offered Russian citizenship if they wanted it but the areas concerned were a relatively autonomous part of Ukraine.

Neutrality is projected by the powers that be as an opt out. Those who wish to protect, defend and develop Irish neutrality see it as a very definite opt in – to the pursuit of justice and peace. And neutrality should not be used to justify or copperfasten unjust solutions – mediation theory,for example, is clear that it should not be party to possible resolutions which are against any party’s human rights. And it should be clear that the possibility of Ukrainian neutrality, with guarantees, can-and should be part of a solution, as with previous proposals that Turkey was involved in. The rejection of Ukrainian neutrality as part of a deal has come from ‘the west’ as much as anyone in Ukraine.

Ukrainian neutrality, with guarantees, is an obvious policy to pursue in relation to ending the war, that and relative autonomy for the east of Ukraine which was already part of the Minsk deals but never implemented. Even now such a deal, properly packaged, could allow Putin to claim success in Ukraine while the reality of the aftermath of war is much grimmer.

Expecting victory for Ukraine, and contributing to it with tanks, is upping the stakes including the risk of Russia or indeed the USA resorting to the use of nuclear weapons, ‘tactical’ or otherwise. https://znetwork.org/znetarticle/the-end-of-the-world-is-back-frida-berrigan-on-nuclear-abolitionism/ As we have pointed out before, the USA and ‘the west’ are expecting Russia to accept something – NATO in Ukraine – the equivalent of which (Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962) was violently rejected by the USA with the very real threat of nuclear war at that time. We are back full circle to being close to that situation.

There is a massive, perhaps burdensome but also wonderfully liberating, role that Ireland can play on the world stage. This is not fanciful. Ireland already has a reputation as being friendly and different. That role can be built on as a force for peace, to be a big cog in peacemaking machinery rather than, as the current direction indicates, a small cog in a warmaking machine which will clearly add to the world’s woes as time goes by..

We can actively opt in to peacemaking and peacebuilding. It is going along with the militarists which is the real opt out and which accepts the inequities and violence of the world. We can demand better and an imaginative and dynamic policy which works to build peace globally. The great sadness is that the Irish establishment and political leaders are captured by false visions of what ‘European unity’ and military power mean. It is as though ‘serving neither King nor Kaiser’ has given way to serving both of them simultaneously.

Ban Ki-moon famously said that the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded. In terms of international mechanisms, security and peace should be sought through a reorganised and renewed United Nations rather than partisan and violent military alliances like NATO – or the growing EU military capability. Ireland can opt to be for peace or prepare to go to war. It cannot successfully ride two horses at the same time and in riding the militarist horse it will betray the positive legacy of neutrality which has been bequeathed to it. Ireland can and should build up neutrality in constructive, imaginative and fruitful ways and contribute to the possibilities of world peace..

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Eco-Awareness: Are electric cars really eco-friendly?

Larry Speight brings us his monthly column –

One of the most common things one hears political candidates say at election time is that they will bring about real change if elected. One usually does not have to listen very long to learn that what they mean by real change is an intensification of the effort to increase economic growth, which is widely considered to be the solution to most if not all of society’s problems.

The belief is the ideological bedrock of the main political parties in Ireland, the UK and across the world. Where the political parties strive to distinguish themselves from each other is the means by which economic growth will be achieved. Even when it comes to dealing with ecological catastrophes such as climate breakdown, loss of biodiversity and pollution the parties frame their solutions in terms of growth, albeit, with the prefix ‘green’ added.

When the mainstream politicians, CEOs and most commentators use the term ‘green’ they do not mean a change from viewing nonhuman nature in humancentric terms as in it is a collection of resources to be used for our benefit, be it material or a means of enhancing mental health. Nor does it mean respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples from whose lands most of the minerals used in the manufacture of the goods we purchase are sourced, or that the people employed in the chain of events which brings a product to the shops or our doorstep are paid a living wage.

Green growth’ is somewhat akin to putting new wine into old wine skins (Mt: 9:17) and is almost always used in regard to energy generated by wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, hydro and thermal power as well as conserving energy through insulation of the building stock. What is an anathema to governments and corporations is the idea of only buying what one actually needs.

Thus, the purchase of electric cars is encouraged rather than the replacement of petrol and diesel ones by comfortable, reliable and affordable forms of public transport and safe and attractive walk and cycle-ways.

The electrical car, which is widely trumpeted, is a good example of why so many ‘green’ inventions are the antithesis of real change. Will electric cars solve traffic congestion? Not if the aspiration of replacing every petrol and diesel car with an electric one is met as this will mean that there will be no decrease in the number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by vehicle collisions. They will also not lead to a reduction in road building and the amount of farm land and habitat paved-over to create park and ride enclosures. Nor will electric vehicles lead to the elimination of air pollution as according to the UK government’s Air Quality Expert Group (2019) more than half of the particle pollution from road transport comes from breaking and tyre wear.

The big sell of electric cars, one that is rarely critically evaluated in the media, is that they will make a significant contribution to the reduction of global warming gasses. This will not be the case if the batteries are recharged with energy generated by fossil fuels which is how most of the electricity used by the global economy in 2023 is produced.

In the highly unlikely event that all electricity worldwide is generated by ecologically benign sources of energy by 2030, after which no new petrol and diesel cars will be sold in Ireland and the UK, electric vehicles will still be a major source of global warming gases, a cause of ecocide and horrendous human rights abuses.

An electric car, excluding steel and aluminum, requires six times more minerals than a comparable petrol or diesel one. As 99 % of minerals come from mining, which produces 100 billion tonnes of waste a year, electric vehicles cause at least six times more ecological damage than conventional vehicles including the loss of biodiversity, the use and pollution of water and degradation of landscape. In fact, 56 % more fresh water is used to produce an electric car than a conventional one, which is a major draw on water at a time when large swaths of the world increasingly suffer from prolonged droughts.

The pre-showroom story of electric vehicles is one of high CO2 emissions as illustrated by the sourcing of just one mineral, cobalt. 70% of this is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where in the large Chinese owned mines heavy machinery using fossil fuels are used. The cobalt is then transported by diesel lorries on a two-week journey to either Dar es Salaam, Tanzania or Durban, South Africa where it is transported to China on ships using heavy diesel. In China, which has 73% of the market share of vehicle batteries, the energy to manufacture them comes from coal-fired power stations. The batteries are then sent by CO2 emitting ships to car factories around the world from where they are transported to the car showroom by – you guessed correctly, diesel powered ships and large vehicle transporter lorries.

As one would expect in our linear economy it is not the end of the story. As a BBC Costing the Earth programme reported in 2020, 93% of electric batteries are disposed of in landfill sites where, in time, they can contaminate soil and underground bodies of water. This will certainly happen if your battery ends up in an illegal dump such as the one close to the Faughan River on the outskirts of Derry City which was recently highlighted by the Radio 4 series, Buried.

Unlike in this part of the world the miners in DRC have no recourse to protect their human rights. Michele Fabiola Lawson in Human Trafficking Search, 1 September 2021, reports that of the estimated 250,000 cobalt miners in the DRC, 40,000 are children who, using their own tools, mainly their hands, earn less than $2 a day. Pete Pattisson reports in the Guardian, 8 Nov 2021, that a miner working in a large industrial mine earns 30 pence an hour. Both UNICEF and Amnesty International have published research documenting the exploitation of cobalt miners in the DRC. Not only are the miners grossly exploited but they are under constant threat of being killed as the cobalt mines are fought over by various militia.

What is the thinking that allows prosperous health and safety conscious societies like ours to base their life style on the exploitation of people in a faraway country, and through a chain of connections, utterly destroy their ecosystem? Might it not be the very same colonial mindset which made European countries, and later Anglo-countries like Australia and the United States, immensely wealthy in the first place? Might it be because prosperous societies regard the ecosystems in which the mines are sited as a thing rather than a complex web of life-forms and processes that have intrinsic value?

As consumers we could be more discerning and follow the example of Belfast born social activist and campaigner Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866) who boycotted sugar grown on the slave plantations in the Americas. We should certainly educate ourselves about the cradle to grave life-stories of the things we buy and examine the notion of continual economic growth.

Readings in Nonviolence: Nonviolence as the only way

Introduction
What is nonviolence? And what is nonviolence at a time of war? It is easy to get disillusioned, or sidetracked, but our thinking can be quite clear and simple, as in Maria Giovanna Farina’s article below. INNATE previously produced a pamphlet, “My kind of nonviolence”, which allowed people from around the island of Ireland to ‘think aloud’ about what nonviolence means to them. This pamphlet is available in the Pamphlets section of the INNATE website at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

Nonviolence as the only way

by Maria Giovanna Farina

29 Jan 2023 – Nonviolence seems distant and agonizing in a historical situation where only Pope Francis makes appeals for peace. The war that we are most concerned about at this moment in history is the one being fought in Ukraine; by now the peace negotiations have been shelved to a time to be determined, to a vague tomorrow where, by the time the situation is taken in hand, everything will have been destroyed and many more human beings will have died under the bombs.

Nonviolence seems to have become an empty word and this cannot, must not, be accepted. Powerful tanks are about to begin their journey to Ukraine where it will take months of training to deploy them, so the war is far from over. Some fear the widening of the conflict, a concern that can be shared, a fear that has yielded to the demands of the Ukrainian president. His needs have now gone as far as the explicit call to be sent weapons no longer for counterattack but for attack, a clear signal that this is no longer just about defense.

I do not point the finger at the contenders, I do not want to be on the side of one or the other, but I must point out the “amnesia” of those who forget history and the wars that have bloodied it, here on our own peaceful continent. The much acclaimed dialogue is not being put into practice; I know well that Russia started this war, but I know equally and very well that only real peace treaties can prevent a dangerous and deadly escalation.

Socrates taught us that if we accept war we turn our backs on what our nature can give us with tools to avoid the worst. And, the philosopher continues [by saying that] if some wars are justifiable, we are solely responsible for our choices. Five centuries before Christ, it was already clear to a philosophically enlightened human being how much war was a choice, and it is important to reflect on this. What does it mean to choose? First of all we must remember that it is a fundamental passage of existence, a formative passage capable of making us responsible for our actions and free. Yes, choice is linked to freedom; if we can choose it means that we are free to do so, and if we do not enact the right choice we are responsible for it. Staying out of the Christian conception of free will in which divine intervention also enters and takes us into a transcendent dimension, we instead remain with our feet in the immanent and loudly criticize those who use and sponsor war.

But why do we still resort to weapons? As many say, war is a way to earn money, lots of money, and the lust for power along with the lust for wealth prevents peace and nonviolence from becoming the best choice. One can choose to seek peace or to enhance war; the tools for a peaceful solution are there [and] it would be enough as a first step to stop making excuses. If I insist on accusing my contender, even justifiably, I will not land on anything good.

War, as Gandhi said, is a crime against humanity; nonviolence is the only way to peace. I will never tire of stating this in an optimistic vision of the world born of philosophy.

As I have already pointed out in my other article, war is also an anti-ecological practice; it destroys life and the environment and pollutes the seas; think of the bombs dropped in our Adriatic Sea during the Balkan War, ordnance that lingers on the seabed for who knows how many hundreds of years. Bombs pollute, undermine health and life itself. And what about the immense consumption of fuel, because tanks and missiles do not move by inertia; where does all the green vision go? In an ecological vision that goes beyond nature and the environment, war is also anti-ecological in the most abstract and mind-bound meaning: we are all connected as beings-in-the-world. Our bad actions affect the whole system, the whole union of body and mind of all human beings. That is why nonviolence is the only possible way not to succumb, not to make the world a death trap but a garden of rebirth.

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This article is taken from Transcend Media Service for 30th January 2023. https://www.transcend.org/ and originally pressenza.com Maria Giovanna Farina is a philosophical counselor, communication analyst and author of books to help people resolve relationship difficulties.. Her website: www.mariagiovannafarina.it

Ukraine – The causes and lessons of war

by Peter Emerson

Introduction

There are numerous electoral systems in the world, quite a few decision-making voting systems, and several forms of governance. The first vary enormously. The usual forms of the latter two, however, do not; decision-making is usually taken by majority vote, occasionally in autocracies and theocracies, but nearly always in democracies; while elected parliaments are invariably ruled by a majority – a majority party or coalition. Politics therefore is adversarial, for majority voting allows the voter only to be either ‘for’ or ‘against’, and even in plural societies like Belgium, consociational voting ensures that decision-making remains dichotomous. Governance may sometimes involve all-party power-sharing, as in Switzerland and Bosnia, but here too reliance is placed on binary decision-making; a form of rule based on preferential decision-making has yet to be practised.

Likewise, when self-determination is exercised, binary voting is the norm. It implies that a minority may secede if a majority of that minority so decides… but that act of secession might produce another minority: when Ireland opted out of the UK, NI opted out of opting out, and remained in the UK. So too in the Caucasus, when Georgia left the USSR, Abkhazia and South Ossetia tried to leave Georgia; it was the same again in Yugoslavia, with Bosnia, and then Republika Srpska; and now too again with the USSR: Ukraine, Donetsk and Krasnoarmiisk.

Fearful that such referendums could lead to the break-up of the Russian Federation, and mindful that their Balkan ally, Serbia, opposed any referendum in Kosovo (as they spell it), Russia used to call the practice of holding these plebiscites ‘matryoshka nationalism’ after their famous dolls: every majority contains a minority, next a smaller one, and maybe too a miniscule one. Little wonder that when the first ethnic clashes in the USSR occurred, in 1988 in Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus, a headline in Moscow read “This is our Northern Ireland,” {Вот наш Ольстер (Vot nash Olster).}

As noted, binary vote decision-making is ubiquitous. In October 1991, at a cross-party conference in Belfast, one of the guests was a native of Sarajevo, Mr Petar Radji-Histić: a war was already raging in Croatia, despite or rather because of their two referendums; so we opposed any binary referendum in Bosnia which was, after all, 40:30:20 Moslem:Orthodox:Catholic – so there was no majority anyway! Alas, via the Badinter Commission, the EU (EC) insisted that Bosnia hold such a poll, and on the day of the vote, the barricades went up in Sarajevo. Looking back, “all the wars in the former Yugoslavia started with a referendum,” (Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo’s famous newspaper, 7.2.1999). The same quotation now applies to Ukraine.

Democratisation

In 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, western advisers advocated ‘majoritarianism’, {even though the Russian word for ‘majoritarianism’ is ‘большевизм’ (bolshevism)}. Not least because of all this advice, Moscow’s new polity consisted of the French two-round electoral system, the ubiquitous binary vote in parliamentary decision-making, and a form of governance based on majority rule. The problems were only beginning…

most especially with self-determination. Nevertheless, despite the 1989 violence in Baku and Tbilisi, the west continued to support Gorbachev, but not after the 1991 fatalities in Lithuania. The West now changed its mind and backed the populist, Boris Yeltsin; it was a huge mistake. The latter supported the break-up of the USSR (because he wanted power) but opposed any ‘matryoshka nationalism’ for the break-up of the Russian Federation: (not unlike another Boris), of principles he had none. There followed the wars in Chechnya and, in 1999, the emergence of Vladimir Putin. And because Yugoslavia was considered to be similar to the USSR, western support for the nationalist Serb, Slobodan Milošević, was transferred to another extremist, the Croat Franjo Tudjman, and this second western U-turn exacerbated the wars in the Balkans.

But back to the newly independent and now majoritarian Ukraine. In 1991, in a referendum on independence, every oblast (region), including Crimea, voted in favour. Using the same very divisive two-round electoral system, presidential elections in 2004 led to a final between the two Viktors, Yanukovich and Yushchenko. Thus the one country of mainly Slav Christians divided into two ‘halves’: the largely pro-Russian, Russian-speaking Orthodox to the South and East, as opposed to the mainly pro-EU, Ukrainian-speaking, Catholic or Uniate others. Yushchenko won, albeit by a whisker and his right to majority rule was supported by the EC/(EU).

The Caucasus was still rumbling. In 2004 in Georgia, the more diplomatic Eduard Shevardnadze lost the election in Tbilisi in what was called the Rose Revolution, but the ‘changing of the guard’ was only the result of the ballot. Then, however, the new, more pacifist premier, Zurab Zhvania, was murdered… maybe on the orders of the new President Mikhail Saakashvili, or so many Georgians think, and power was now the monopoly of the latter.

Moscow itself now did a huge U-turn: despite Kosovo, Russia chose to support (matryoshka) referendums – some of them anyway – backing South Ossetia to opt out of Georgia… whereupon, of course, a Georgian enclave called Akhalgori (Eredvi) – like Northern Ireland – tried to opt out of opting out: more matryoshki, and yet more violence! Saakashvili waited for Putin to go to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics… and then invaded. Putin responded in the only way he knows how, and the result was war.

Two years later in Ukraine, the other Viktor, the pro-Russian Yanukovich – as noted, he had lost the 2004 contest – won the 2010 election, again by a whisker, the pro-western bloc having divided into Yushchenko versus Julia Timoshenko. (*1) There followed the protests in Maidan which, in February 2014, turned horribly violent. The EU then performed its own U-turn: democracy, apparently, was no longer majority rule, it was now power-sharing! A delegation rushed over to Kiev… and arrived on the very day that Yanukovich ran into exile.

Putin doesn’t like losing. So in March, he ran a second referendum in Crimea. As mentioned above, Crimea had already voted to be in Ukraine; but now, supposedly, it changed its mind. (The Belfast Agreement caters for a similar vacillation, every seven years or so.) (*2) In May came referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk… and the word Scotland, Шотландия (Shotlandiya) – (2014, of course, was also the year of Scotland’s referendum) – was used by Russian separatists in Luhansk, to ‘justify’ the unjustifiable.

Thus, just as the UK doll had splintered into Ireland and then Northern Ireland, so too the Ukrainian matryoshka broke into the small and infinitesimal: part of Ukraine tried to opt out and become an independent Donetsk, supposedly; whereupon the Dobropillia and Krasnoarmiisk region (*3) tried to opt out of opting out and to opt back into Ukraine, in another referendum! Nearly three million people voted, and 69.1% chose Ukraine.

This particular vote Putin chose to ignore. (Just as many westerners had ignored the first referendum in Kosova, in 1991. Another instance was when Croatia voted to leave Yugoslavia, the Krajina (*4) voted to leave Croatia – as in South Ossetia, this was another pair of mutually exclusive referendums!)

Next, in 2022, Putin changed his mind: he now wanted Donetsk to be, not independent (of Ukraine), but something quite different, to be incorporated (into Russia). And apparently, by some strange coincidence, in yet another (bloody) referendum, a majority of the people of Donetsk had, it is said, done the same.

Lessons

At worst, then, the majority vote is (and always was) a means by which the powerful can manipulate those with less power: at worst, both in parliament and/or in a referendum, it can be false flag, a provocation to violence. Accordingly, if only for the sake of Ukraine, those in Scotland (*5) and Ireland who might wish to change their own constitutional status should campaign for multi-option or better still preferential ballots. (How else can a W-I-S-E option, such as a Wales-Ireland-Scotland-England federation, get onto the ballot paper?)

There is another reason. If it is seen that the 2014 and then 2022 binary referendums in Donetsk etc. do in fact succeed, it will encourage others elsewhere who are already rattling their sabres and ballot boxes, like the current and former presidents, Milorad Dodik in Republika Srpska and Anatoly Bibilov in South Ossetia, respectively; a poll in either could easily lead to yet more violence and war. What’s more, tensions in Kosova (to use the Albanian spelling) are yet again on the rise.

Meanwhile, the biggest lesson for the two governments here in these islands (and elsewhere) is as follows: both the House of Commons and Dáil Éireann should practice that which they preach: governance in both – indeed, governance in every democracy – should be based on broad coalitions, governments of national unity, forms of power-sharing based on preferential decision-making. If only for the sake of Ukraine.

Furthermore, as I first wrote in Fortnight in 2005, Ukraine itself should adopt a form of power-sharing.

Postscript

To every violent horror, there is always a pacifist response. Putin has ‘declared war’ (or special military operation) and thus, apparently, he now has the ‘right’ to kill. Those countries opposed to such violence should ‘declare peace’, so to say that until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and ceases all acts of violence therein, they will ignore all the norms of peaceful coexistence and diplomacy, and that their personnel in Russia – ambassadors and so forth – shall be at liberty to join the anti-war protests in Pushkin Square and elsewhere, for as long as such protests remain non-violent.

In addition, any (old) persons of influence outside Russia – the Pope, a retired Archbishop of Canterbury, an Imam and a Rabbi, along with a former US president perhaps, a British former prime minister, an ex-film star, whosoever – could endeavour to undertake a Gandhian protest of some sort, either in Moscow, or if that’s not possible in Minsk, or maybe just on the Belarus border: a silent vigil, a protest, a fast. It might be a policy which achieves nothing yet risks the lives of those involved; in contrast, other policies have put the lives of Ukrainians at risk.

Peter Emerson

Director, the de Borda Institute

www.deborda.org

A Russian-speaker; an OSCE election observer, six times in Ukraine, twice in Georgia and once in Russia; a member of the EU Monitoring Mission in Mtskheta for South Ossetia, 2008-9, and author of The Punters’ Guide to Democracy, (Springer, Heidelberg).

Footnotes:

(*1) Her bloc’s acronym was spelt B (for block), YU (for Julia), T (for Timoshenko), so to spell BYUT (‘short’ for beauty).

(*2) A procedure best called a ‘never-end-’em’.

(*3) It included seven cities such as Mariupol, and altogether its population was about four times the size of the Northern Ireland krajina (see footnote 4).

(*4) Three areas of Croatia which had long since been populated by Serbs as a bulwark against the Ottomans. The word ‘krajina’ shares the same etymology as ‘Ukraine’ – borderland.

(*5) The SNP used to be in favour of multi-option referendums, in 1992 advocating the alternative vote AV, (STV without PR). A little later on, the Scottish GP supported the preferential-points system of voting, the modified Borda count MBC. Now that these two parties are in power, however, (now that they can choose the referendum question), their support for the more inclusive methodology has waned, as has their desire to talk about it.

BILLY KING: RITES AGAIN

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

I always welcome the end of January with a noticeable lengthening in daylight, no, spring is not here but there is light at the end of the winter tunnel. And it’s time for me to do some more work in the garden, to get things a bit in order, including digging out all the scutch grass from the Welsh onions (perpetual scallions to you) which will necessitate digging out everything and replanting the Welsh onions when the weeds are, hopefully, cleared. Leave the garden until spring is sprung and for me, anyway, it is already too late to ‘take control’ – I use this term very much in inverted commas because I know I can only work with nature and I can never beat it.

It was good to see Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visiting Kildare in late January to support the Pause for Peace on St Brigid’s Day, 1st February. Is it too much to expect then that the Irish government will get its Paws off War preparation and its support for arms production then????????

As you probably know, the Good Friday Agreement isn’t the greatest deal for the North since unsliced wholemeal bread but has been an important agreement and move nonetheless. The DUP have never agreed to it per se and its implementation has been extremely patchy with the Assembly at Stormont ‘down’ nearly as much as it has been ‘up’. However a poll in the Tele (Belfast Telegraph) showed a majority of unionists would vote against it today https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/a-majority-of-unionists-would-vote-against-1998-good-friday-agreement-today/43633102.html Yus, we need something better in the North but the GFA has been an important staging post and it to be rejected by 54% of unionists (the category is unionists, not Prods) is scary; overall 64% support it. A clear arithmetic majority of people in Northern Ireland, 60%, felt the DUP should get back into Stormont straight away – but only 21% of unionists. We’ll have to see how the proto calls develop in the next few weeks when the EU and UK come out with their new protocols on the Norn Iron Protocol.

Past caring

The phrase to be ‘beyond caring’ or ‘past caring’ indicates a certain amount of resignation and a lot of frustration and annoyance about whatever it is you are ‘past caring’ about. Use of the phrase actually usually denotes that the person does care, or certainly did until very very recently, but either tiredness or frustration have kicked in, big time, and the person concerned feels there is nothing more they can do. We have all been there.

But, to give the phrase a twist, ‘past caring’ can be ‘caring for the past’. I have written here before, some time ago, about the pain of being archivally minded – you can’t just throw things out that are of possible significance, like any normal human being, oh no, you have to try to find A Home for them. And that is usually a frustrating search because someone or some institution will take part of what you have, leaving you with a smaller amount of whatever it is and an even more difficult task to find A Home for those.

It has been an interesting task to be involved in going through the INNATE archives. Much has been added to the INNATE photo and documentation site as material was sorted and before going to PRONI (Public Record Office) or wherever. This current issue of Nonviolent News has a listing of resources from INNATE.

Past, present, future. Scientists and philosophers have no coherent theory of time. What we can gather however is that past, present and future are linked in very real and causal ways. We don’t need to be deterministic and believe in preordained realities but we do need to recognise how the past has set up the present and that is creating the future. And we need as true an understanding as possible of the past if we are to avoid self-justifying conceits such as that the Troubles in the North were ‘unavoidable’. They happened and we need to understand why. But to say they were ‘unavoidable’ is nonsense, history could have taken a different path. The tragedy is that there wasn’t a different path tank, and the necessity is to avoid travelling down a similar path in the future.

Brendan McAllister

The death of Northern peace activist Brendan McAllister came as a shock – he was 66 and someone had asked me how he was doing only ten days before he died and I said I didn’t know but presumed he was busy with his work as a deacon (in the Catholic church) – he had just ‘qualified’ in February last in this new career or should I say calling. There are a number of photos of him on the INNATE photo website but my favourite is https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/7122164753/in/album-72157629555375796/ because, although not detailed of him and from the back it shows him in typical, contemplative stance in a less than contemplative situation and also represents the power of the individual. For those interested in such things, https://www.newrycathedralparish.org/2022/02/14/profile-deacon-brendan-mcallister/ gives a fascinating account of some of his faith journey to be a Catholic deacon.

I will tell you one other story. Around 1990 the political parties in Northern Ireland were still not talking to each other, and particularly not to Sinn Féin from the unionist side because of their unequivocal support for, and link with, the IRA. As a result when Pax Christi and others were running immersive/information programmes for people from outside Norn Iron about the situation they had a problem. How to have all political views represented in a panel discussion? So they developed a model using actors to represent individual political parties or positions, I became a Fianna Fáil TD for the duration (“I’m very glad you asked me that question” emanating from my mouth while in role I clearly writhed and objected strongly to being asked….). Brendan McAllister played the role of a middle class member of the Ulster Unionist Party who believed everything was fine before 1968 when civil righters and republicans came and stirred up trouble. It was quite fun but we did our best to represent faithfully our respective roles and it was a learning experience for the actors too, to talk – if not walk – in someone else’s shoes..

Anyway, one time this model for a panel discussion was being used there was quite a crowd and one attendee missed the introduction to say all roles in the panel were being taken by actors, and why this was so. They got up at the end during questions to demand to know why the poor Sinn Féin rep was being ostracised and ignored by the others……. All quite instructive really and also an indication that maybe us actors weren’t too bad.

But back specifically to Brendan McAllister; he was a peace activist and peace thinker, with Corrymeela and elsewhere including Pax Christi, long before he became the first director in 1992 of what is now Mediation Northern Ireland (it went through a few changes of name which I won’t go into here). Policies which he bravely undertook in that position included work on parade disputes (most likely to anger loyalists but also possibly republicans) and work with the police in relation to changing their culture and practice (this was way before the Patton report reforms and it was most likely to anger republicans). He subsequently held different victims commissioner roles among other international work.

I feel Brendan was always someone who tried, to his fullest extent, to be true to himself and to think strategically. He was small of stature but not small in spirit or in the contribution he made. He deserves to rest in peace and like many I will miss him and his quizzical but intelligent expression as he sought to understand what you were saying or your reaction to something he had said, and make sense of the ridiculousness of so much of what happens in the North.

Chess pieces

The bould Prince Harry put quite a few cats among a lot of pigeons with his various revelations about British royal shenanigans in his memoir. [I hope you will ‘Spare‘ us too much detail – Ed.] However here I wanted to pick up on his comments on his work with the UK armed forces in Afghanistan, and now breaking the army (most armies) code of omerta in speaking about how many people he had killed. From a purely personal point of view, regarding his own security, he wasn’t very wise to say how many Taliban he reckoned he killed since it could trigger a violent reaction (it was 25, he reckoned) but it was very honest.

He was castigated by Norn Iron’s own (retired) Colonel Tim Collins for being so specific, and by him and others for letting down the military ‘family’. Tim Collins himself is known for a stirring militarist speech before the 2003 Iraq war and a number of questions emerged around that time about Tim Collins’ behaviour himself (see Guardian 22.05.03 and The Sun 21.05.03) although he was later cleared by the army. Collins said about Prince HarryThat’s not how you behave in the army; it’s not how we think. He has badly let the side down. We don’t do notches on the rifle butt. We never did.” What Collins says is true – but the reason is that to contemplate how many lives you have snuffed out is generally not conducive to doing the same thing again, i.e. such contemplation is going to make you a less effective soldier and killer in the future so from a militarist perspective it is better to just ‘forget about it’. And you might also have more nightmares if you count the notches.

But there is a point also about the military as ‘family’. If you have gone through the heat of battle, and lived closely beside other people, it is not surprising you feel your comrades in arms are ‘family’ but to me it is actually the antithesis of family – real family, whether blood relations or not, are not generally in the habit of killing and trying to avoid being killed. But to tell the truth about how many you killed? That is letting the side down because it doesn’t look great, does it. This is without it even being bragging about killing lots of people; it is about being specific about the results of being a soldier; killing is what you do in such a situation. It is cutting through the military mystique to tell the tragic truth about your actions – dead bodies, and that is true whether you feel such killing is justified or not. Such things need to be hidden in order to perpetuate the military system.

Using the phrase “chess pieces removed from the board”, as Prince Harry did for those killed, is actually quite an appropriate metaphor – in terms of military thinking – since, while it has moved beyond that, chess is in origin a ‘martial’ game. Those seeking to kill cannot think of the humanity of the enemy, doing so could either stop them in their tracks or give them severe PTSD and mental health problems. The British general who denied they thought in terms of chess pieces was seeking to give a benign but false take on the reality – troops are specifically trained to dehumanise the enemy so they can kill them. And with high tech weaponry, killing is increasingly akin to a video game, a modern version of, or alternative to, chess.

Modern armies try to give the impression of being caring, sharing organisations whereas the essential role, if it comes to the bit, is obeying orders and killing capacity. Meanwhile as Irish neutrality gets sold down the river, the Irish Army, with a proud role of military peacekeeping abroad for many decades, risks becoming simply another unit in the might of the burgeoning EU empire and its role in wars later in the 21st century.

Details on the non-existent Irish arms Industry

While armaments manufacturing gears up in the North, of course the Republic has no arms industry worth talking about (or so Simon Coveney would have us believe). However a different story emerges when the matter is studied and government propaganda is waded past.. You may already be aware that Phoenix magazine has the best coverage of Irish foreign affairs and neutrality – most of the rest of the media is more than content to extol the virtues of the emerging EU military empire, while the Phoenix takes a more rational view.

Phoenix Annual for 2022 took a look at the arms industry south of the border down Doubling way. It makes pretty disturbing reading. Military licences granted in 2020 amounted to over €108 million – more than double the figure of over €42 million for 2019 which in turn was up on the year before, and that up on the year before that. Business is booming – literally as over €3 worth of explosive devices and related equipment went to the USA in 2020. But as we have often stated here in these pages, ‘dual use’ equipment which goes for military purposes is indeed military equipment.

The Phoenix also refers to Simon Coveney’s statement at the Aviva Stadium arms beano (for the protest there see https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52408699982/in/dateposted/ and accompanying photos) that “…Ireland does not have a defence industry like other European member states…” to which the answer must be “Oh yes it does! And you have been trying to grow it exponentially.”

Of course the term ‘defence’ is also mainly a euphemism, as if arms manufactures are only used for ‘defence’. The only successful attack on the USA’s territory in modern times, arguably since Pearl Harbour, was 9/11 and that was conducted using commercial air planes hijacked with violence but not something that conventional armed forces could have prevented. If arms were indeed only used for ‘defence’ then the arms industry would be very much smaller than it is.

There are more details on Irish arms exports in The Phoenix Annual for 2022, page 8..

Mustard Seed 1976

It was mustard, or was it (‘mustard’ as a slang term/adjective originating in England can have different meanings, positive and negative). Anyway, Mustard Seed was a big ‘alternatives gathering’ which took place in April 1976 https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/20003062983/in/photolist-2m9Zbio-wtAVJg – this entry has an explanation of the purpose behind the festival, written afterwards. Though I am showing my age by saying I remember Mustard Seed well [you certainly are – Ed.]

Far more people crowded into the Glencree Centre in the Wicklow hills than would be permitted today by health and safety or insurance. I think probably 400 people attended in all over the weekend with maybe 150 or more staying overnight, people sleeping anywhere they could find in the buildings and some in a big marquee. I slept behind and under the reception desk (the warmest out of the way place I could find…) – I find I sleep quite well under tables. [No comment – Ed] [‘No comment’ is a comment – Billy] (En français – ‘Comment’? – Ed]

The programme was varied and catered for many different interests though I think it played a significant role in the evolution of an ecological consciousness, and confidence, and networking for many. Of course the informal meeting was just as important as any plenaries or workshops, though when a ‘geographical areas’ exercise took place for people to group and network together – going around the compass of Ireland, N, NE, E, Dublin, SE, etc, one neglected person from the Midlands came up to the organisers – they had forgotten to include the centre of the island as a networking area! And believe it or not, Ireland does have a centre…..

While the event took place at Glencree it was organised by the SCM/Student Christian Movement, an ecumenical left-of-centre student group whose Dublin based organiser at the time was Michael Walsh. What I found interesting, as a kind of Christian, was the fact that aside from a couple of different faces of the SCM itself, the ‘Christian world’ was entirely absent. Looking back this seems, if not prescient, at least a foreteller of the decline of Christianity as a major, or the major, force in Irish society. That is a vast generalisation but I hope you know what I mean. Now many of those present may have been inspired by an individual religious faith of some sort, Christian or otherwise, but it certainly wasn’t something which was obvious in any way. And that was 1976.

Again I am not wanting to write off the contribution made in many fields by people of a Christian faith, of whatever denomination, then or since. And some Christians have caught up, think of Eco Congregation work for example https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/ in relation to ecology and green issues. However it seems to me, looking back, that it was a straw, or perhaps a mustard seed, in the wind of what was about to happen to the Christian edifice in Ireland ‘on all sides’.

Fair play….

…….To Edward Horgan, he was back at Shannon Airport only a few days after being acquitted of criminal damage for a nonviolent action there almost six years ago (see news section this issue). As those familiar with such expeditions to Shannon know, the verdict in the actual trial is only the culmination of a long drawn out process which can put lives on hold for years. His Facebook entry for 30th January reads:

Back at Shannon airport today, US Marine Corps Hercules KC130T arrived at Shannon today at 14.45pm, coming from Al Udeid US air base in Qatar, Persian Gulf via Sofia in Bulgaria. This is a multipurpose war plane also equipped as a mid air refueller. Such breaches of Irish neutrality are happening almost daily at Shannon airport.
On Friday Omni Air most likely having delivered armed US troops to Wroclaw in Poland, refuelled at Shannon on its way back to the US. On Thursday Omni Air N378AX refuelled at Shannon coming from Al Udeid US air base in Qatar, and flew on to Fort Brag in North Carolina.

On Thursday 26 January The President of Switzerland Alain Berset not only ruled out any involvement in sending weapons to Ukraine, but explained on television that Switzerland had a unique quality of “neutrality.” Their role, as reflected in the Geneva Conventions, is so much more important than joining a parade of weapon providers. “Today, it is not time to change the rules” against exporting weapons. “Neither is it time to change the rules of neutrality. On the contrary, it is time to recall our basic principles, to stay committed to them and find a right path for the country in this situation.” Switzerland has “a different role from other states.”

Our Irish President and Irish Government should now make similar statements and act accordingly.”

I was sad to see the death of Fr Mícheál MacGréil during January, aged 93, and as well as being a sociologist of renown and a campaigner, e.g. on Traveller issues, he was also a peace activist and, presumably the first, chaplain to Pax Christi in Ireland https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/21063426348/in/album-72177720296414662/ A great and gentle guy.

Winter is still here so careful as you go. Careful as you type/keyboard too, our Flickr site inputter reports attempting to key in “Mediation Skills Workshop” and what came up was “Mediation Kills Workshop”, which, as you may gather, is something else entirely and not what we might wish to project.

CU soon, Billy.

INNATE Annual report for 2022

Peace seemed a long way away with war in Europe (Ukraine) as well as many other parts of the globe, Northern Ireland still not at peace within itself, and the Republic getting sucked deeper and deeper into the morass of the arms trade and EU militarisation. Sometimes all that it is possible to do is state clearly that ‘there is an alternative’ and work, and hope, that people can see that alternative before it is too late. Already it is too late to avoid some drastic effects of global warming.

In terms of public presence, we organised a demonstration to call into question Thales arms production in Castlereagh, Belfast https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/51943904438/in/dateposted/ on St Patrick’s Day – this well attended event received additional attention because of the war in Ukraine (it was organised before that started) but one TV interview conducted during it was never aired, presumably because of an – accurate – description of corruption by Thales). However we did in mid-year run a discussion programme for community TV station in Belfast NVTV, and we hope to do more in this regard. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52245726256/in/dateposted/ We were also involved in promoting a picket of an Irish government arms event in Dublin organised by Afri; see https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52408699982/in/dateposted/ and accompanying photos.

Early in 2022 INNATE handed over the coordinatorship of StoP/Swords to Ploughshares which INNATE had been involved in founding a bit more than a year previously. StoP is a an all-island network on the arms trade and demilitarisation and it continues to meet regularly online and organise webinars including a very useful one on ‘human security’. https://www.facebook.com/SToPIreland and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpcK1QYLk6M

INNATE completed the transfer of most of the peace movement archives it held to PRONI/Public Record Office for Northern Ireland. A full list of the material transferred is available on request. However a more extensive list of online materials on the INNATE websites was produced (https://innatenonviolence.org/ as the main website and https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland as its photo and documentary site). This listing has been included in Nonviolent News and is on the website at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/INNATE-online-listing-2023-for-web.pdf .

Nonviolent News was produced monthly in its usual 10 full issues and two news supplements (for January and August). https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/category/nonviolent-news/ The INNATE photo and documentary site now has upwards of two and a half thousand entries with many new additions during the year, both contemporary and archival, and this site has now had well over half a million opening of photos (you can see photos and a caption without opening them to see more detail).

Another production, at the start of the year was a 15-page publication, “Peace groups in Ireland through the years”. This is not intended as an exhaustive history but rather a listing since the 19th century with brief facts plus details about where to find further information, i.e. to signpost where to find out more for those interested, and the link is at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/ – it will be updated as needed.

INNATE ran a workshop on ‘Nonviolent struggle in the global South’ for the One World Festival in the North; a report appears at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/11/03/the-effectiveness-of-violence-and-nonviolence/ The coordinator gave a keynote talk at the Afri Hedge School in TUD Blanchardstown on “The war in Ukraine, Irish and EU responses, and possibilities for peace”.

As with so many voluntary, political and community groups, you may get to see ‘the duck gliding serenely by’ – but not the energetic paddling going on under the water. INNATE is sustained by a small number of activists but in the Zoom and internet era ‘anyone anywhere’ can be involved – please get in touch if you might be interested in being involved in any way or have suggestions for work to be done. And as usual INNATE exists on a very frayed financial shoestring – and all work is done voluntarily – so subscriptions and donations of any size are very welcome.

– Rob Fairmichael, Coordinator, February 2023

Archival, documentary and campaigning materials available from INNATE

The two INNATE websites https://innatenonviolence.org/ (the ‘main’ INNATE website) and https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland (the INNATE photo and documentation site) have a substantial amount of material available on a broad understanding of peace, nonviolence and related matters. The following listing can only be considered partial but it is indicative of the contents; it is listed alphabetically in relation to each site.

As always, INNATE is happy to consider additions to its online material. Please contact innate@ntlworld.com This information also appears at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/INNATE-online-listing-2023-for-web.pdf

INNATE photo and documentation site

https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland

With a total of nearly two and a half thousand entries (as of January 2023), finding what you might want, or be most interested in, can be difficult so it is recommended that most users go to the ‘Albums’ (groupings of photos/entries on a theme). Below is a listing of the albums and their main content, however when clicking on ‘Albums’ online they are not listed alphabetically so you will need to scroll down to the ones you want. Some albums are very limited but photos are grouped this way to make them more accessible. Album can overlap, i.e. one entry can appear in a couple, or more, albums.

You can also use the word search facility in the top menu bar and this is useful where there is no obvious album to search or you are looking for a specific person or organisation not featured as an album. Where possible website links are given. Information about use of the material featured appears on the site (under ‘About’ on the top menu bar)

lAfri – Nearly two hundred photos from Afri events and famine walks over the years.

lAnti-Nuclear power movement – Mainly photos and documentation from late 1970s but also photo essay on wind turbines at site of erstwhile nuclear plant at Carnsore Point.

lAVP/Alternatives to Violence Project – Mainly from the international conference in Ireland,2014, but also on work in Bolivia and India.

lBishopscourt Peace Camp, 1983-86 – Photos and documentation from this peace camp at Bishopscourt RAF base, Co Down.

lChurches Peace Education Programme (1978-2005) – A small number of photos and documents on this important resource.

lCND and nuclear disarmament – Mainly 1980s photos and documentation, also Faslane in the ‘noughties.

lConflict Textiles – Comprehensively documented on its own website, this is a selection of photos from Conflict Textile events and exhibitions.

lCorrib Gas, 2011 – A short photo essay on ‘security’, monitoring and resistance at the Co Mayo site.

lCOP 26, Glasgow, 2021, a photo essay by Larry Speight.

lCorrymeela Community – A selection of photos of people and events, and documents from over the years.

lDawn (1974-85) – Scenes from producing Dawn magazine, events, and documentation.

lDealing with the past – A small selection of photos, on Northern Ireland and some international.

lDisarmament and resistance to war – A broad sweep of photos and documents from around Ireland.

lDrumcree Faith and Justice Group, Portadown – A small selection of photos and material from this important local group in the 1980s-1990s.

lEcology and green resistance – A limited but fascinating selection from actions and events.

lFellowship of Reconciliation – Photos from some International FOR events and some documentation on Irish/Northern Irish FOR (1949-1998)

lG8, Fermanagh, 2013 – Photos from Belfast and Fermanagh alternative events/demonstrations.

lGender and peace – A selection of photos on this frequent elephant in the room.

lGlencree Centre for Reconciliation – Documents from around the start in 1974 plus photos from the 1980s and recently.

lHuman rights – A small selection of photos mainly from Northern Ireland.

lHumour and satire – A miscellany showing the lighter side of entries on the site….

lInclusive and consensus decision making – A small selection with essential links.

lINNATE history – A selection of photos and entries on INNATE’s events and history since 1987.

lINNATE seminars and conferences – Photos of participants and documentation.

lIrish neutrality – A broad selection of photos and documentary entries.

lIrish Pacifist Movement (1936-1969) – Documentation and history.

lJustice Not Terror Coalition, Belfast, 2001+ – Opposition to the ‘war on terror’, post-9/11.

lKilcranny House, Coleraine (1985-2012) – Photos from this ecologically-focused peace centre.

lMediation – Some important photos and documentation from the start of focused mediation in Ireland in the mid-1980s, including MNI/Mediation Northern Ireland and MII/Mediators’ Institute of Ireland.

lMen, gender and nonviolence – Photos from international trainings for men by the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP), 2009-10

lMonitoring and accompaniment – A wide range of photos and links to informative material (see the information at the top of the album)

lMuseums for Peace, Belfast, 2017 – People and events from their 25th anniversary conference.

lNonviolence training – Photo from training events at home and abroad.

lNorthern Ireland Peace Forum (1974-88) – Documentation.

lNorthern Ireland, Troubles and Peace in – Several hundred photos and documents mainly from and about the peace and reconciliation movement, and also the general situation.

lNorthern Ireland peace process – A small selection of newspaper items, 1994-2007.

lPax Christi – Documentation and a few photos, mainly 1970s-1990s.

lPeace and Reconciliation Group (PRG), Derry, (1976-2015) – A small number of photos and documents.

lPeace miscellany, 2009-10 – A small number of photos from this time.

lPeace People – Photos from 1986 and documentary material from the beginning in 1976.

lPeace trails – A small but informative selection on peace trails, including Belfast and Mayo.

lQuaker peace work and witness – A limited number of photos on primarily Irish Quaker peace work.

lRaytheon Derry campaign, 1999-2010 – A wide range of photos from the succesful campaign to get arms company Raytheon out of Derry.

lSean MacBride – A small number of writings or interviews, taken from peace movement sources from the1980s, and one Afri event photo.

lThales arms company – Photos of demonstrations at the Castlereagh, Belfast plant.

lTom Weld artwork – Some examples of his map like work on peace and human rights.

lTrade Union/ICTU NIC action for peace – In relation to Northern Ireland and abroad.

lUS/NATO military bases, conference against, Dublin 2018 – People and events.

lWar Resisters’ International – Mainly from the Dublin 2002 international conference.

lWitness for Peace (1972+) – A small number of documents and cuttings.

lWomen Together (1970-2001) – Mainly documentation but also some photos.

lWorld Beyond War international conference, Limerick, 2019 – People and events including a visit to Shannon Warport.

INNATE main website

https://innatenonviolence.org/

Nonviolent News is the main INNATE resource with all issues available since 1990 (it was occasional until 1994 when it became monthly). It went online in 2003 when the email and web edition became longer than the paper edition which became the first two pages of news only (older issues appear as PDFs). It is still produced in email and web editions (with the same content in both) and a shorter paper edition.

The INNATE website changed to WordPress in 2021 but all the previous material is available – you just need to click on the button to the right of the home page to get to the older site. If word searching for something you may need to do it on both the new and the old sites.

Resources are listed alphabetically below, with an indication where necessary of their location.

lAn alternative defence for Ireland (Dawn, 1983)

Perhaps somewhat out of date this still indicates it can be done…. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lBishopscourt Peace Camp 1983-86

A short 4 page broadsheet analysing the history and context of this peace camp. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lChristian Nonviolence – a study pack (1993)

Originally produced by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi, this is a useful introduction to the topic. Nonviolence and other religions have been explored in some ‘Readings in Nonviolence’ in Nonviolent News. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lConsensus for small groups

An introduction and worksheets including tools that can be used. https://innatenonviolence.org/workshops/consensussmallgroups.shtml See also https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52550857618/in/dateposted/

lCorrymeela House Belfast

A short history of/tribute to Corrymeela House in Belfast which closed in 2014. https://innatenonviolence.org/readings/2014_11.shtml

lDawn Train

PDF copies of all 11 issues are online with contents listing at https://innatenonviolence.org/dawntrain/index.shtml This includes material on facilitating political discussion (Sue and Steve Williams, DT No.11), what enabled people in the North to change their views (Mari Fitzduff, DT10), and much more about peace and nonviolence at home and abroad.

lEco echoes

A compilation of some of Larry Speight’s columns from Nonviolent News married with his keen eye photography. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lMichael Davitt, Land War and Non-violence

An 8-page pamphlet from Dawn (1979) exploring this important person and topic. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lINNATE annual reports

All you never wanted to know about INNATE with a page per year. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/annual-reports/

lMusical musings on Irish history and culture (2002+)

An exploration of violence, nonviolence and social change in Ireland through music and ballad, by Rob Fairmichael. https://innatenonviolence.org/resources/musical.shtml

lNonviolence – The Irish Experience Quiz

A fun way to challenge our perceptions of Ireland over the centuries – with questions on one side and answers on the other. Link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/

lNonviolence in Ireland – a study guide

This can be used for individual or group study with links to material and questions for thought or discussion. Link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/

lNonviolence – An introduction

What it says on the tin – an introduction to nonviolence from INNATE

https://innatenonviolence.org/resources/intro/index.shtml

lNonviolence Manifesto from INNATE

Short and to the point in 2 sides of A5. Link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/

lNonviolent News since 1990

– News section – monthly news, all issues since 1990 online, covering a wide range of peace, nonviolence, green and human rights news and initiatives from around Ireland, with links where possible.

– Editorials – Commentary on current issues at home and abroad.

– Eco-Awareness – Larry Speight’s incisive commentary on green issues since 2004.

– Readings in Nonviolence – Reviews and material of many different aspects.

– Billy King:Rites Again – Idiosyncratic commentary on the world, the flesh and the divil else.

Each of these sections can be accessed independently or within the relevant full issue.

https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/category/nonviolent-news/ and pre-2021 issues at https://innatenonviolence.org/news/index.shtml

lNonviolence in Irish History

Dawn magazine’s pamphlet from 1978 still has important information and a wider message challenging the view of Irish history only being about violence. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lMy kind of nonviolence (2012)

Fifteen people from around the island give their view on what nonviolence is about – a direction is perhaps evident, but no party line. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lThe nuclear syndrome – Victory for the Irish anti-nuclear power movement

An extract from Simon Dalby’s thesis on this significant late-1970s movement looks at questions of organisation and strategy. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lPeace groups in Ireland through the years

An up to date listing first issued in 2022 giving a very brief profile and links or suggestions for further information. Link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lThe Peace People Experience, 1987

An in depth study looking at the overall story after a decade of the Peace People, where the money went, the story of local groups, and interviews with key personnel. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

lPeace trails

Links for at home and abroad in a couple of newsletters on peace trails. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/peace-trails/

lPosters

Designed for home printing, there are well over a hundred small/A4 size posters which cover a multitude of issues in the fields of peace, nonviolence, violence, green issues, human rights and justice. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/

lWorkshops/Training in nonviolence, and group work and dynamics

A wide range of material for workshop use – which can also be used for personal study – including one on nonviolent tactics to use in relation to a campaign, the stages a successful movement may go through (‘Workshop on strategising’), and gender and violence.

https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/workshops/

lVegetarian and vegan cuisine

A short guide for those looking for new ideas for food in this area of importance to countering global warming. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/

Materials passed to PRONI

INNATE has passed older archival material to the Public Record Office for Northern Ireland (PRONI) which is based in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. The volume would be equivalent to about 7 boxes of material of 45 x 35 x 30 cm. A small amount of this material appears digitally in the INNATE photo and documentation site on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland

Since it requires attendance at PRONI to access this material no comprehensive listing is given here but a full list of material passed to PRONI is available on request to innate@ntlworld.com What follows is a brief indication of its contents. The PRONI reference numbers for the material are D4828 (deposited 2021) and PTE 83/2022 (for additional material deposited in 2022). It includes Northern Ireland ‘peace and reconciliation’ material as well as internationally-related peace material from both sides of the border in Ireland

D4828

Includes dated peace movement ephemera (leaflets, cuttings, papers etc) from 1970s to 2018 and a wide variety of specific files and some photos.

PTE 83/2022

Includes more Dawn and INNATE materials and extensive materials on the Peace People used in the preparation of ‘The Peace People Experience’ pamphlet (1987).

Nonviolent News supplement, January 2023

SUPPLEMENT to Number 305, Belfast 6th January 2023

Please note this is a short supplement with mainly time-limited or immediate information, not a full issue.

Louie Bennett memorial event, Dublin

On Saturday 7th January, at 2 pm, Afri will lay a bouquet of flowers at the bench in St Stephen’s Green commemorating Louie Bennett (1870-1956) . ‘As we emerge from the Decade of Commemorations,’ said Professor John Maguire of Afri, ‘it would be difficult to find any other person who so vividly embodies the complex strands of our heritage, or the challenges of creatively reworking that heritage in today’s fraught world.’ Louie Bennett had a long and distinguished record of activism, for women’s right to vote, in opposition to war and militrism, and for the rights and welfare of women workers (she was the first woman to be president of the ICTU, a position she held twice). As Afri mention in their announcement, the memorial bench in St Stephen’s Green is curved, reflecting her belief in encouraging conversation. www.afri.ie

Afri Féile Bríde; Darkness Dawning Light

The 30th Féile Bríde will be on Saturday 4th February when those speaking/performing will include Emer Lynam, Adi Roche, Tommy Sands, Justine Nantal, and Luka Bloom. As usual/normal it will take place in the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town. Full details and booking information soon on the Afri website at www.afri.ie The event will begin at 10.30am with a Ceremony of Light in the Square in Kildare.

Belfast Military-Industrial complex thrives

Thales in Casttlereagh, Belfast has been given a £223 million contract from the British Ministory of Defence for hand-held anti-tank missiles. Thales will assemble these ‘next generation light anti-tank weapons’ (NLAWS) for Saab. Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris expressed his delight at the news and the managing director of Thales in Belfast, Philip McBride said ““Once again, Northern Ireland is demonstrating its significant role in the UK defence enterprise.” Thales employs around 600 people. More details at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-64057780 and https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/belfast-weapons-factory-receives-contract-to-produce-anti-tank-missiles-42235861.html

FOE-NI address change

Friends of the Earth in Northern Ireland has moved to a new office; Gordon House, 22-24 Lombard Street, Belfast, BT1 1RD. Otherwise their details remain the same. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/northern-ireland

Tools for Solidarity

Tools For Solidarity is a not-for-profit organisation based in Belfast and the main focus is to support artisans in the poorest parts of the world and mostly in the countries of Africa. This act of solidarity enables them to become more self-reliant and have some hope for the future. You can read up on TfS work and history at https://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/ including their latest, informative, newsletter at https://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/publications/newsletters/

AVP/Alternatives to Violence Project: Annual report, coordinator

AVP have issued their annual report for 2022. 36 prison based volunteers and 22 community based volunteers were involved in the running of 41 workshops in all Irish Prisons except Cloverhill and Arbour Hill. Around 60 courses were assessed and completed this year in Cloverhill and Mountjoy prisons. AVP trained 32 new facilitators (22 prison based and 10 community based volunteers). 22 new community volunteers have taken part in some training and most of them are very close to completing it. Innovations in the year included a 3rd level ‘Female Awareness’ workshop which was piloted twice in the Dóchas. AVP expects to be able to offer up to 500 participations in our training across Irish prisons in 2023, apart from other programme.

The coordinator left her position at the end of the year and AVP is recruiting a new coordinator. The ad for the position will be in LinkedIn and Activelink. In leaving she said “I am extremely grateful to AVPers for the privilege of having worked with you all, these 7 past years, thank you for the meaningful work, the learnings, the laughs, the connections, the deep conversations, the friendship, care and love! May our AVP community keep learning, connecting and growing! Democratic Dorothée”. See also https://avpireland.ie/

Eco Congregation Newsletter

There are 19 pages of news from around the country’s churches in relation to their ecological involvement and other information in the Advent issue of the Eco Congregation Newsletter which can be opened at their website https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/

The next, full, issue of Nonviolent News is for February with a deadline of 1st February

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/