Féile Bríde: The light of peace amidst the clouds of war
Afri’s Féile Bríde 2024 takes place at Solas Bhríde, Kildare on Saturday 10th February. The programme includes Senator Frances Black speaking about Palestine, John Maguire on “Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace”, Sunny Jacobs on “Peace is the answer; Love is the way”, Catherine Cleary on “Pocket forests; Bringing biodiversity to your doorstep”, Ruby Cowdell on “There is no Planet B”, and Niamh Brennan on “The universe story”; music will be by Emer Lynam. The event is organised by Afri in partnership with St Patrick’s Kiltegan and Cairde Bríde. Conference fee is €35 including lunch, €25 concessions. More information and booking details at https://www.afri.ie/category/date-for-your-diary-4/
Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb exhibition, Linen Hall, Belfast
The vertical gallery at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, has a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb exhibition running until 28th February, admission free. This informative exhibition, well worth visiting, is produced by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum including photos in 30 information panels and artefacts – some eliciting emotion such as paper cranes made by Sadako Sasaki https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53453897548/in/dateposted/ Further info at www.linenhall.com
Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report
If there are lies, damned lies and statistics, then the NI Peace Monitoring Report, No.6 of which appeared in December weighing in at 184 pages, is the nearest you can get to to an accurate and in depth picture of where the North is at…and how things are progressing – or not – over time. It pulls together and interprets published material from many sources and covers four areas; political progress; sense of safety; wealth, poverty and inequality; and cohesion and sharing. It is published by the Community Relations Council, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and this issue was authored by ARK from Ulster University and covers the period 2018-23 (the first one appeared in 2012). All issues are available at https://www.community-relations.org.uk/publications/northern-ireland-peace-monitoring-report Note that the latest issue appears last in the six PDF links given there. This info also appeared in the January news supplement.
St Brigid’s Day at the DFA
As Nonviolent News goes to press, for the third year in succession, at noon, on 1st February, ‘Brigid of Kildare’, accompanied by members of Afri (Action from Ireland) and StoP (Swords to Ploughshares) is delivering a St. Brigid Peace Cross, a copy of the Downpatrick Declaration, and a letter to Tánaiste Micheál Martin at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. The press release from StoP goes on to say “This action, which represents an urgent call for peace and a firm rejection of war, on the feast Day of Brigid the Peacemaker, will take place as we watch the horror of war in Palestine, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and many, many places around the world. The action will be a compelling call for our Government, in line with Article 29 of our Constitution, to seriously promote disarmament, demilitarization and de-escalation rather than mindlessly jumping on board the juggernaut of war. It is a protest at our Government’s moving ever closer to NATO, shredding our neutrality, abandoning peacekeeping with the UN, unpicking the ‘Triple Lock’, and building a weapons industry in the Republic of Ireland; while claiming that all this is compatible with ‘Pausing for Peace’ in Kildare on the feast of Brigid the peacemaker.” www.afri.ie https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/
ICCL Rochtain: Increasing advocacy capacity
ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties, with supporting funding from the St. Stephen’s Green Trust, is to offer training, seminars and support through its new programme Rochtain to enhance the advocacy capacity of community and voluntary organisations. The first online training session will happen shortly – a seminar on the legislative process in the Oireachtas and it will focus on the critical junctures to intervene effectively on policy matters. More info is available at https://www.iccl.ie/2024/rochtain/ and you can register your interest in participating there.
Rochtain is the Irish word for “access” or “attainment”. Over the last number of years, ICCL has observed a worrying gap in the advocacy landscape in the non-profit sector in Ireland. “While our allies are engaging in critical and groundbreaking work in their areas of expertise, they often find it difficult to bring this work to the attention of legislators. While large non-profits can employ full- or part-time advocacy staff or engage the work of consultants, this isn’t an option for many in the sector. As a result, many organisations struggle to understand where, when and how best to intervene with elected representatives to best advance their causes in a strategic manner. This initiative seeks to work to address this imbalance.”
CAJ welcomes inter-state legacy case, focus on budget cuts
CAJ, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, has welcomed the inter-state case taken by the Irish government at the European Court of Human Rights concerning the Northern Ireland Legacy (Troubles and Reconciliation) Act 2023. CAJ director Daniel Holder said “This is the right decision and a necessary one. CAJ and academic colleagues first raised the remedy that could be provided by an inter-state case straight after the legacy bill was introduced in May 2022. We addressed the issue before an Oireachtas Committee in July 2022, noting that there was a real onus on the Irish government to act, both as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and also in the context of the precedent and contempt for the international rule of law that the legislation has set. An inter-state case is the best way to challenge the whole legacy act and the quickest way to get this legislation before an international court, that is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.” www.caj.org.uk
Meanwhile the always valuable and informative CAJ publication Just News for January 2024 has a focus on the severe effects of budget cuts in Northern Ireland https://caj.org.uk/publications/our-newsletter/just-news-january-2024/ While the restoration of the Stormont Assembly gives some hope for increased funding for social provision, this shows just how dire the situation is in Northern Ireland.
Triple Lock posters on neutrality (and many others)
Produced by INNATE, two mini-posters (A4) for home printing on the importance of the ‘Triple Lock’ (government, Dáil, UN) on the deployment of Irish troops overseas, which the Minister for Foreign Affairs intends to remove, are available at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ along with well over a hundred others on peace, green and human rights issues.
Cultivate: NonViolent Communication, Feeding Ourselves
Forthcoming events organised by Cultivate include a foundation weekend on NonViolent Communication (NVC) at Cloughjordan, Tipperary, the weekend of 24th and 25th February, run by Mel White and Aaron Bailey. This “provides tools and skills to navigate some of the challenges involved in making and maintaining meaningful connections”; details and booking at http://cultivate.ie/nonviolent-communication-trainings-2024/
Then the annual ‘Feeding Ourselves’ gathering “is a transformative weekend of events that underscores the urgent need to strengthen local food economies, shorten supply chains, and foster synergy and cohesion among local food stakeholders” and takes place from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th March, also at Cloughjordan Ecovillage; see http://cultivate.ie/rural-regeneration/feeding-ourselves/ for details.
82% want Big Tech’s toxic algorithms switched off
Research commissioned by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Uplift has found that almost three-quarters (74%) of the Irish population believe that social media algorithms, which select content and insert it into users’ online feeds, should be regulated more strictly. And 82% of people are in favour of social media companies being forced to stop building up specific data about users’ sexual desires, political and religious views, health conditions and or ethnicity, and using that data to pick what videos are shown to people. The findings come in the wake of a major step taken by Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new online regulator. Its new draft rules say that recommender systems based on intimately profiling people are turned off by default on social media video platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok. ICCL states “These “recommender system” algorithms promote suicide and self-loathing among teens, drive our children in to online addictions, and feed us each personalised diets of hate and disinformation for profit.” https://www.iccl.ie/news/82-of-the-irish-public-wants-big-techs-toxic-algorithms-switched-off/ And 62 civil society organisations have written supporting strong action on ‘recommender system’ algorithms, coordinated by ICCL and Uplift.
Tools for Solidarity: Tanzanian developments
Tools For Solidarity is a not-for-profit organisation based in Belfast. It is fully run by international, local and supported volunteers with the main focus to support artisans in the poorest parts of the world. TFS collects, refurbishes and ships out hand tools, sewing machines, machinery and accessories to communities, women’s groups, people with disabilities and vocational training colleges primarily in sub Sahara Africa. It works in Tanzania in solidarity with a local governmental organisation named SIDO (Small Industries Development Organisation). In 2022 the SIDO office in the Iringa Region expressed the wish of having a centre similar to the one TFS had opened two years before in Njombe. This was the starting point of the Iringa Artisan Support and Training Centre (IASTC), officially inaugurated during a field visit by two TFS staff last May. More news about TFS associated work in Tanzania, and other aspects of TFS work, can be found in their latest newsletter, see https://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/publications/newsletters/ This info also appeared in the January news supplement.