The ‘Triple Lock’ on deployment of Irish soldiers overseas is a key feature of Irish neutrality – and a key restraint on them being committed to involvement in fighting wars as opposed to peacekeeping. Two new downloadable, printable (A4) mini-posters are available from INNATE on the Triple Lock and the attempt by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to get rid of them – whatever people want. See https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Triple-Lock-Neutrality-2.pdf and https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Warlock.pdf December 2023
The controversial ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ of June 2023 was set up by the Minister for Foreign Affairs – but to what end? This detailed report, prepared by a working group of StoP (Swords to Ploughshares Ireland), looks at the 4 days of the Forum in detail. Included is a preamble, setting the scene, and a substantial set of conclusions which can be drawn from the current situation regarding neutrality and security and what the Forum did and did not consider, Click here to download – StoP Report Forum on International Security Mark 2
This is also available on the StoP website at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/report
Neutrality and ‘security’: Peace protests are felt
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department held all the cards in setting up the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ in the Republic but peace and neutrality activists and groups made plenty of noise and contributions contrary to the establishment view. They were able to raise severe doubts about the enterprise during the process which the Minister had designed to get the result he wanted in removing the ‘triple lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas. See Editorial and article by Dominic Carroll in email and web editions for more details and resource links immediately below. Civil society’s effort was obviously greatly assisted through comments from President Michael D Higgins who correctly identified an (undemocratic) ‘drift’ towards NATO.
For those wanting to learn more, much other information is available:
1. An excellent general overview of the issues by Carol Fox appeared in the Irish Examiner www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/commentanalysis/arid-41169388.html See also Martina Devlin in The Irish Independent, 23rd June (paywall).
2. A photo album on the Citizens’ Forum meetings, and the Consultative Forum on International Security and protests regarding the same appears on the INNATE photo site at
3. Afri’s recent booklet on Irish neutrality “A Force for Good?” is available for purchase (€10) www.afri.ie The video (68 minutes) of the recent online launch of this publication is worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMpOi6gnSkg and there is a shorter 22 minute documentary from Afri on the issue at
4. Slides from presentations by Dr Karen Devine, providing valuable detail, appear on her website at https://www.drkarendevine.com/
5. For an international view which supports armed defence by neutrals see https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/06/06/ukraine-russia-war-neutrality-nonalignment/
6. The official programme of the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39289-consultative-forum-programme/ and 4 days of video are available https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/00e68-follow-the-forum-online/# (you have to agree to the cookies) and you can make up your own mind about the balance or imbalance on particular panels, and on the whole process.
Advancing Nonviolence: Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
On Saturday 14th October, 10.30am – 1.30pm there will be an event run by Pax Christi Ireland in conjunction with The Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI); this is a project of Pax Christi International to deepen understanding and commitment to Gospel nonviolence. The main speakers are Marie Dennis and Pat Gaffney, CNI. The venue is the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, and further details will be available in September. Contact: Tony D’Costa, Pax Christi Ireland, email: email@example.com The CNI website is at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/
NI NGOs call for urgent anti-poverty strategy
Dire cuts to services and support to those in need are in process in the North. On 28th June NGOs, trade unions, and academics called for an anti-poverty strategy based on objective need to be a day one priority for a new NI Executive at a seminar held in Stormont. The half day seminar on ‘Progressing an anti-poverty strategy for Northern Ireland’ was organised jointly by the Equality Coalition, Barnardo’s NI, and Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network (NIAPN). Northern Ireland has been waiting for an anti-poverty strategy for almost twenty years. The 2006 St Andrews Agreement contained a legal obligation for the NI Executive to develop a strategy to tackle poverty, social exclusion, and patterns of deprivation based on objective need. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/ngos-call-for-urgent-progress-on-an-anti-poverty-strategy-for-ni/
ECHR and NI Legacy Bill
CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice has welcomed the Interim Resolution from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe published on 8th June. The resolution records ‘serious concern’ that there has been no tangible progress to address concerns the legacy bill is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In particular, the Committee of Ministers has called on the UK authorities to reconsider the proposed amnesty scheme and the shutting down of legacy inquests. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/caj-welcomes-new-human-rights-resolution-from-european-ministers/
Good Relations Week in the North: 18-24 September
This year’s theme for Good Relations Week in the North is ‘Together’; coordinated by the Community Relations Council, this showcases many different examples of work on eradicating sectarianism, racism, and inequality and has a focus on cooperation, inclusivity, and progress. For more information on Good Relations Week 2023 and to register an event, visit https://goodrelationsweek.com/
FOE on LNG: Petition to stop government backsliding
Irish Friends of the Earth is campaigning against the government possibly permitting a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) storage facility. FOE state “One of the Green Party’s conditions for going into Government was that the coalition Government would oppose the development of LNG terminals for importing fracked gas into Ireland. Highly polluting fracked LNG was a red line issue – and rightly so. But now we’re worried that Minister Eamon Ryan may be considering a U-turn on long-standing Green Party policy on LNG.” Further info and an online petition on the FOE website at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/act/say-no-to-government-u-turn-on-lng/
l FOE have an Action Pledge you can take at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/act/friends-of-the-earth-action-pledge/
ICCL: Facial recognition illegality by Dept of Social Protection
A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) reveals for the first time that the Department of Social Protection has known that its biometric processing of personal data arising from the Public Services Card (PSC) project is illegal. The DPIA indicates the Department of Social Protection has built a national biometric database of 3.2 million cardholders’ unique facial features since 2013, including, in some cases, those of children. It also indicates that the Department is intent on retaining each cardholder’s biometric data for their individual lifetime, plus 10 years. Olga Cronin, Surveillance and Human Rights Policy Officer, ICCL, says: “The Department has been building a national biometric database without a relevant legal basis and without transparency. It continues to collect people’s biometric information in exchange for services they are legally entitled to. This must stop. This processing is unnecessary, disproportionate, and presents a risk to people’s fundamental rights.” More info at https://www.iccl.ie/news/psc-facial-recognition-software-dpia/
l ICCL has welcomed the 14th June plenary vote in the European Parliament on the EU’s draft Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. The vote establishes the Parliament’s position on the Act ahead of negotiations with the Council of the EU and the European Commission. The Parliament’s text includes a complete ban on the use of real-time facial recognition technology (FRT) in public spaces and represents a significant blow to the Irish Government’s plans to introduce FRT for An Garda Síochána.
ICCL on Offences Against the State Acts Review Group
ICCL has called for immediate implementation of key recommendations of the Offences Against the State Acts Review Group which recommends its repeal. https://www.iccl.ie/news/minister-must-implement-review-groups-recommendation-and-repeal-the-offences-against-the-state-acts/
Síolta Chroí: Ecosystem restoration for community groups
Upcoming courses at Co Monaghan centre Síolta Chroí include one, 26th-27th August, on Ecosystem restoration for community groups, looking at how groups that have access to, or look after, pieces of land can create systems that sequester carbon, build biodiversity and restore the ecosystem. Full info at https://sioltachroi.ie/courses-and-events/
Russia: COs movement declared ‘foreign agent’
On 23rd June the Movement of Conscientious Objectors was officially labeled as a “foreign agent” in the Russian Federation. They state, “This action, while a demonstration of the effectiveness of our work, is fundamentally a discriminatory application of law that contradicts universally accepted human rights and freedoms.…… A significant number of our volunteers and coordinators are based in Russia, and they now face a heightened risk of state pressure and persecution. Despite these increased threats, we remain committed to supporting those who resist war and forced conscription.” See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2023/another-blatant-human-rights-violation-russia-labelling-movement-conscientious-objectors
Global Women for Peace United Against NATO
A new international women’s movement has been formed and has produced a Declaration for Peace, outlining its message of peace, justice, solidarity, and common security. As part of the international protests, they are organising a programme of events in Brussels, home of the NATO headquarters, taking place from 6th to 9th July (there will be a NATO summit in Vilnius, 11th-12th July). Join in person or online. http://womenagainstnato.org/
Consultative Forum on International Security
Peace and neutrality activists don’t let the government away with it….
In their concluding remarks on the fourth and final day of the Consultative Forum on International Security, Micheál Martin, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Louise Richardson, Forum chair, were in congratulatory mode (to the country and themselves) for the liveliness of debate and even the involvement of people in the process through protest. To an uninformed observer these might seem urbane remarks however since the protests were due to the discriminatory way in which the whole enterprise was set up, this was rather hollow and putting a gloss on something which was less than satisfactory and of their own making. The previous establishment and government line was that protesters were trying to shut down debate; given the organisers’ own role in trying to control the agenda for debate, the opposite was the case.
Louise Richardson also said she knew of no other country where such a forum had taken place, implying how wonderful Irish democracy was. This was true about the uniqueness of the event. What she did not say however was that it was taking place because of political expediency on the part of the Minister. He wanted to remove – presumably still aims to remove – the triple lock (government, Dáil, UN) on the deployment of Irish troops overseas this autumn. The war in Ukraine gave an excuse to try to move things in the direction he wanted but he needed some ‘democratic’ credentials or ‘weaponised’ basis to do so – and thus set up what purported to be a ‘Forum’ (‘a public event for open discussion of ideas’) but was actually a long conference with speakers hand picked by the Minister and his staff to give the answers or direction he wanted. The whole process was not instigated out of the goodness of the Minister’s heart, and his desire for democracy, but for very particular political ends.
The Irish government has been trying to use the war in Ukraine, and Russian invasion, as a reason to change the ‘triple lock’. There is only one case where the triple lock may have prevented a peacekeeping deployment and that did not involve Russia. Of course the government and pro-government speakers did not mention the warmongering of the USA and the West, nor the breach of neutrality by giving Shannon for US military use, no questions asked. The background also included the lie that the Forum was not about neutrality as opposed to ‘security’ as if the two were unconnected, another part of the ‘get rid of neutrality by stealth’ strategy.
Micheál Martin has previously stated how much he learned and benefited from conciliation programme run by Quaker House Belfast (for info on the latter see https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/50654202881/in/album-72157717185737611/ ). This was in getting to meet, and know Northern unionists – and he does have a reputation among unionists as being someone who understands them. However it is really sad that he has not been able to extrapolate from this experience of dealing with conflict on the island of Ireland, demonstrating the importance of long term conciliation and mediation efforts, to thinking internationally. Instead he is going with militarisation and so-called military ‘solutions’. He was going to take what he could get from this ‘forum process’ and the hope must be that this will be severely constrained by the challenges both to the process and the content which took place.
Louise Richardson also didn’t say it was deliberately not a citizens’ assembly – a format which now has established form in Ireland in dealing with difficult and contentious issues – because it would have given the ‘wrong’ answers so far as the Minister was concerned.
Peace and neutrality groups were working hard to point out the illegitimacy of the exercise, and hold alternative forums where the speakers and issues they wanted included were not excluded. But an intervention by Michael D Higgins, pushing at the boundaries of what it is acceptable for an Irish president to say, questioned the drift towards NATO and also raised questions about the credentials of the chair (he later withdrew some of these remarks). That greatly helped make the issue a hot potato. However he would never have felt constrained to make those remarks had the enterprise not been an underhand one to begin with. His comments thus served the interests of democracy.
One illustrative ironic twist took place during a Forum session on cyber threats and disinformation. A couple of contributors from the floor both pointed to the Forum itself as an exercise in disinformation due to the built in bias in the programme and speakers. Perhaps this fits the old adage of ‘the medium is the message’. You can easily find the list of speakers on the Department website and some analysis of speakers’ backgrounds is in The Phoenix issue for 30h June.
That is not to say that some participants in the Forum did not make a useful and even positive contribution on the issues involved. Some panels were less imbalanced than others and some had reasonably comprehensive discussion of the issues. But the topics dealt with, and the speakers chosen, as well as the chair who will write the report, were all hand picked by the Minister and staff acting on his direction. At no point was it stated by the Minister or the Department that inclusion in the speakers list was by Department of Foreign Affairs invitation only (which was the case). An INNATE offer to contribute unique content, on nonviolent civilian defence and on extending neutrality as part of security, was brushed aside. (See https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53003786126/in/dateposted/ with INNATE being prevented from putting these leaflets out for those attending at Dublin Castle). So a ‘Forum’ it was not.
Proponents of peace and neutrality faced a dilemma, to protest (possibly through a boycott) and/or be involved. In general people protested and were involved; a boycott, especially given the bias in the media, was likely to lead to invisibility. But making a point, or raising a question – which might not be answered or answered poorly – from the floor is not in any sense being properly included, it is being tolerated and patronised – especially when Micheál Martin congratulated everyone, including protesters, for their commitment on the issue. He might genuinely feel that way but certainly this was not the feeling for those on the other side of the NATO fence (Ireland is still a fellow traveller with NATO through its euphemistically named ‘Partnership for Peace’). And being involved in any way, even protesting inside the Forum, could be seen as legitimising it in that the organisers could then say “Look how tolerant we are, we even allow protest” (no they didn’t, anything they allowed was under sufferance, and numerous people were ejected from the chamber).
So the question of the legitimacy of the whole enterprise entered some of the media (e.g. The Irish Independent of 23/6/23 but not The Irish Times whose paper edition the same day, after the first session in Cork, held not one photo of protests and only a brief mention of protests themselves). And as usual the mass media did not cover the fact there were different protests and people or groups involved (see e.g. the text of https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/52993125392/in/dateposted/ and compare that with mass media reports ).
While we must await the final report, written by Louise Richardson, there is no indication to date that she might not be the ‘safe pair of hands’ she would seem to be, the reason she was appointed by the Minister. The report should never, in any case, have been the responsibility of one person. While the question of the legitimacy of the whole enterprise has been raised successfully, it is still possible that the Minister will try to use the report as a means to get what he wants and the triple lock removed. This should be a real test of the integrity of deputies in the Dáil.
The Irish state should be looking at how neutrality could be extended as a real and vibrant force for peace in the world. That is the approach taken in INNATE’s written submission to the Forum, see https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv The world already has far too many countries armed to the teeth and acting in a belligerent and self-interested manner. Ireland has the opportunity to be different but the establishment choice is to join even closer the big boys with their guns. The metaphorical guns in the above affair were held by the Minister; the peace and neutrality sector, through mobilising and its nonviolent action, succeeded in at least disarming some of those weapons of mass distraction.
The struggle is not over.
–See also the news section for links to further information, the article by Dominic Carroll in this issue, and INNATE’s photo album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408
Back to a different inefficiency
It is clear that Geoffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, wants to get back into Stormont and is drawing up his shopping lists. Here there is the danger that the British government, in giving the DUP and unionists the assurances they want about the place of Northern Ireland in the UK will actually breach the Good Friday Agreement. Meanwhile other prominent members of the party, such as Ian Paisley, are very much more reluctant, and that dynamic has to work itself out within the DUP itself.
In a cynical political move the British Secretary of State in the North, Chris Heaton-Harris, continues to make people suffer through swingeing cuts and the resultant instability in education, health, social service and community sectors as he weaponises the cuts to put pressure on the DUP to return to Stormont – of course that would be with a package which removes some of those cuts. People’s lives are thus a political football.
Assuming that Stormont does return in the autumn – and if it doesn’t there could be a lengthy period of direct rule by Britain – there are a myriad of issues on the table to be dealt with by Michelle (O’Neill), Geoffrey (Donaldson), the Executive and the whole Assembly. While we might hope for a good ‘run’ at and on the pressing issues of concern, if past history is anything to go by then ‘things’ will gradually run into the ground and another crisis emerge to stymie progress.
It is difficult to enumerate all the issues of concern in one editorial. There are systemic issues of governance and decision making. There are issues which are difficult to resolve (e.g. education) because of the nature of the sectarian division which then overlaps with divisions on a left/right, progressive/conservative axis. There is the sectarian division itself which creates difficulties in the provision of facilities and sometimes requires ‘double provision’ (one facility for mainly Protestants, and one for mainly Catholics). And there are big problems simply with the amount of money available from the British Exchequer, given that the home rule Assembly system is not responsible for taxation (but see below).
While it has been generally recognised that the system of decision making needs reformed, simply removing the necessity for the two largest parties on either side to be involved in the Executive will not eradicate the problems. If the largest party on one side can ‘pass’ (i.e. decline to be involved in the Executive) but others on the same side pick up the ball (and be in the Executive), that would largely eradicate the start-stop nature of the Assembly. But it would not deal with the difficulty which the parties have in arriving at good decision making.
This is where the decision making methodologies proposed and propounded by the de Borda Institute www.deborda.org should come into play. In effect these have built in consideration for minority viewpoints and are the fairest way of trying to arrive at a workable consensus or decision that all can live with. They do require political parties to act in a different manner, however, and this is only likely to come about through pressure from the public. It might at least give an impetus to effective decision making in areas where there was been sustained failure in the past.
While Stormont, if the Assembly is up and running, cannot replicate taxation raised by the UK government, there is nothing to stop it raising taxes that are different, such as a land use tax (e.g. a tax on land and property which is not being used productively aside from that which is clearly set aside for ecological purposes). And due to the lack of economies of scale in an area of 1.9 million people, and issues of poverty and ill health, some stemming from the Troubles, the ‘Barnett formula’ of funding for UK regions needs further tweaked to give Northern Ireland a fairer share of the UK cake – Wales has already succeeded in doing that.
Whatever the constitutional future for Northern Ireland, there are urgent issues which need sorted now. The reform of Stormont could be a vital tool in turning around an area where the majority of young people want to leave, a fact illustrative of the many problems which beset individuals and society and of the existing malaise. The Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Agreement give Northern Ireland some economic advantages which it is next to impossible to harness without a home rule government in place.
by Dominic Carroll, Cork Neutrality League
1. We’re not joining NATO. It is now suggested that the government had NEVER contemplated NATO membership, and that defenders of neutrality are, inexplicably, crying “Wolf”. Yet government politicians have repeatedly expressed enthusiasm for, at the very least, increased cooperation with NATO (stealth membership). In June 2022, Micheál Martin said Ireland does not need a referendum to join NATO. How else was this to be interpreted other than that the government was giving serious consideration to joining? It is logical, then, that defenders of neutrality continue to take the rush/drift towards NATO seriously (in 2022 a rush, in 2023 a drift). 2. Government assurances in advance of the forum (actually, admissions of defeat) regarding neutrality and NATO should have mollified supporters of neutrality, it is suggested. Numerous politicians and commentators have sought to portray/deride our continued objections and protests as illogical. However, the objection to the forum remained valid. It provided a platform for a preponderance of securocrats and academics intent on extolling the benefits of NATO, with little formal opposition (i.e. platform speakers). The forum was clearly designed to “deliver” for the government. Despite objections at the highest level (the presidency), the programme and selection of speakers remained unaltered. Opposition to the forum remained valid. 3. The forum was not the beginning and end of the debate. The debate is being conducted across the media, within academia, among politicians and government departments (in Ireland, the EU, the US, etc.), among the public and (for four days only) in and around the forum. Numerous commentators, politicians and academics (not only from Ireland) have been egging Ireland on towards NATO membership. The Irish Times has been central to the debate, with an obvious bias in favour of anti-neutrality/pro-NATO contributors – e.g. Gay Mitchell was afforded numerous opportunities to persuade the readership of the Irish Times that Ireland should join NATO. Prominent commentators in numerous other leading publications have chided Ireland for failing to step up militarily (e.g. “Ireland is Europe’s weakest link” and “Irish neutrality – complacent at the best of times – has now become untenable, and perhaps its politicians will finally resolve to do something about it”). The neutrality movement was addressing ALL opponents of Irish neutrality, wherever they may be, when opposing the forum. 4. Despite this, the government has been forced to declare/concede that we are NOT joining NATO. (For now.) And that we will continue to be neutral. (Until we cease to be neutral.) It is only logical that these government blandishments regarding neutrality and NATO (while they await developments in their favour) should be scorned. 5. Government intentions with regard to Nato and neutrality have been thwarted by a recalcitrant public (61%), by the activities and discourse of pro-neutrality groups, by pro-neutrality scholarly discourse, and by opposition in the Oireachtas, by MEPs and by President Michael D. Higgins. 6. We can’t be sure if Micheál Martin continues to hanker after NATO membership; perhaps it was just a dalliance in the heat of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (under pressure from EU/NATO securocrats), and perhaps he now accepts – all things considered – that it’s not on (apparently, many of his backbenchers are also of this view). But he is undoubtedly determined to do something about the Triple Lock and is fully committed to increased integration into EU defence arrangements. He is clearly no enthusiast for neutrality. 7. Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael clearly yearn for eventual NATO membership. This, they hope, can be achieved through salami tactics: first, tackle the Triple Lock; next – well, that depends – it might take years. Or perhaps the escalation of the war in Ukraine will suddenly make it seem like the sensible option to a majority of people. 8. As to the forum, while it may not have backfired, exactly, it could be said to have misfired (because of the opposition to it). Dame Louise Richardson is still certain to deliver on the Triple Lock, and pro-neutrality campaign groups must now step up efforts to defend it. But if Dame Richardson is not inclined – perhaps, no longer inclined – to recommend the abandonment of neutrality and for Ireland to join NATO, the forum may fairly be judged a partial failure for the government. Equally, the pro-neutrality movement may fairly claim a considerable degree of success in undermining the forum. - The email of Cork Neutrality League is firstname.lastname@example.org and they have social media accounts as follows: Instagram www.instagram.com/corkneutralityleague Facebook www.facebook.com/CorkLeague Twitter twitter.com/Cork_CNL_SNOW (S’no joke, SNOW stands for Stay Neutral Oppose War).
As stated elsewhere in this issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, under general instructions from the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, rejected INNATE making an oral presentation on nonviolent civilian defence and possibilities for extending Irish neutrality. While this was included in INNATE’s written submission to the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ it is quite clear that if you were not involved in presenting at the four days of oral hearings then your thoughts were unlikely to get attention.
But INNATE was in good company in being excluded. Dr Karen Devine, an academic and expert on modern Irish neutrality including the non-aligned, anti-imperialist and pro-disarmament policy of Fianna Fáil under Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken in the 1950s and 1960s, was, incredibly, omitted from the speaking roster. A ‘forum’ is defined as ‘a public space for open discussion’ so it was clear it was not a ‘forum’ in any meaningful sense – it was a long conference with all the content decided by the Minister and his civil servants who he would obviously have instructed as to what he wanted.
Anyway, below is the link for the 11-page INNATE submission, containing later on the sections on nonviolent civilian defence and extending Irish neutrality in a positive way. We used the term ‘nonviolent civilian defence’ in this context rather than the related term ‘social defence’ to be more comprehensible in the context of discussing geographical state security. We would prefer the term ‘social defence’ in general as a more progressive and less state-oriented term but we stand over everything in the submission.
The submission can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv
To read INNATE’s 11-page submission to the Consultative Forum on International Security in the Republic, see https://tinyurl.com/3rurehhv
It had not been the intention to publish this until the July issue of INNATE’s monthly publication Nonviolent News but due to publicity about the failure of the Department of Foreign Affairs to consider having an oral presentation on aspects of the submission – specifically nonviolent civilian defence and extending neutrality as a means of adding to Irish security, it is being published now.
Photos of the “People’s Forums” on neutrality and protests concerning the government “Consultative Forum” can be seen on the INNATE photo site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408
Consultative Forum on International Security
One move short of a complete stitch up
The meetings of the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy take place in Cork, Galway and Dublin later in June (see news section). As we have noted before, it is a ‘Consultative Forum’ (perhaps with the emphasis on the ‘Con’) rather than a citizens’ assembly (which had been mooted) because the government realised it would not get the result it wanted from the latter – i.e. it would deliver a strong pro-neutrality stance. Since citizens’ assemblies have been used by the government to look at different issues of importance this move is deeply cynical and anti-democratic.
While some of the heavy lifting of recent years against neutrality has been done by Simon Coveney of Fine Gael, it is highly ironic that the current attempt at decimation should be carried out by Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil. The latter party has traditionally been the one that was most for Irish independence and against imperialism and big power politics. But it is doubly ironic since Martin has spoken of how much he benefited from conciliation/communication work by Quaker House Belfast in getting to know and understand Northern unionists; it is clear he has not extrapolated from that to the need for such communication and understanding in the international sphere and this is truly sad, even tragic.
Incredibly, and this was a recent statement, before the deliberations of the Consultative Forum, Martin said there was an ‘emerging consensus’ for removing the ‘triple lock’ on deployment of Irish troops abroad; this let the cat out of the bag – insofar as it has been in any bag – on his intentions following the Forum Report. Yes, the United Nations needs reform, and particularly removing the veto power of permanent Security Council members, but simply removing the triple lock will allow the Irish government to send troops on NATO and EU military missions.
The government has decided the format and decided the content and speakers. While a few pro-neutrality speakers are likely to be included to avoid the impression of a complete whitewash it is clear that this is what it will be. In addition the chair, Louise Richardson, of Irish origin but now a citizen of the USA and, it would seem, supporter of that country’s policies, has been chosen as a safe pair of hands to deliver the result that the government wants. And after the report is delivered the government will move to remove the ‘triple lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas. And following that, there is the question of what is left of Irish neutrality, it is already a fellow traveller with NATO (including NATO exercises and meetings happening in Ireland) and enthusiastic supporter of the EU arms industry and of an EU army.
It is unfortunate that the Irish public, still expressing support for Irish neutrality, is generally unaware of the perilous or threadbare state that has been reached. This is due not only to government machinations (taking small steps, one at a time, while denying neutrality was at risk) but also, very significantly, to the media which has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for NATO and for Irish involvement in EU militarisation; generally it has avoided carrying pro-neutrality arguments and views. There are a very few exceptions to this rule such as The Phoenix which has continually cast a critical eye on Irish foreign policy.
However one bright point seems to be that Irish people can think for themselves. PANA’s poll on a ceasefire in Ukraine (see news section) shows the people of the Republic are very strongly supportive of a ceasefire to allow negotiations to happen, and are certainly not bursting to support ongoing warfare as some political leaders might think. This may indicate that (as all recent opinion polls have shown) neutrality is alive and well in the hearts of the people of Ireland even if not in most of their political leaders and the establishment.
The extremely stupid equation seems to be accepted by most media that to be a ‘good European’ you need to be a supporter of EU policies such as militarisation. And once the EU does finally evolve to superpower status you can be sure that it will throw its weight around like all the superpowers before it; that is written in the militarist DNA. As happens with the USA, military interventions may be dressed up in flowery language about protecting peace or extending democracy, defending the rights of women, protecting borders and so on, but it will be good old great power imperialism underneath it all.
StoP/Swords to Ploughshares Ireland wrote an open letter to Louise Richardson, the chair of the Consultative Forum, challenging her to be impartial but the whole setup is so skewed that even in the event that she did the result would still be biased against the views of most citizens of the Republic. The concluding paragraph of this letter reads; “We consider that the current model of a ‘consultative forum’, dispersed and repeated over several days, with no wider public consultation, is inadequate for effective democratic consideration of such large and complex issues. We are seriously concerned that the voice of those who support Irish neutrality as a positive force for peace and who oppose our increased integration into EU and NATO military structures will be effectively excluded from the Forum. It is up to yourself and the conduct of the Consultative Forum—especially in its eventual Report—to achieve more than an outcome predetermined by the Government. We hope that you will rise to the occasion.”
If you can participate in the Forums and the protests and alternative events, please do. If you can respond to the online questionnaire, please do (one response to the question of what the greatest danger is to Irish security is to answer “NATO and EU militarisation”). If you can submit your views further, please do. Go to www.gov.ie/consultativeforum
We are one step away from a total stitch up. That final step or stitch is likely to come with Louise Richardson’s report. And, while this is a rather large and perhaps grandiose sounding statement, that might be considered the day that Ireland finally lost its soul and any hint of global solidarity.
Change but no change in the North
The reality of the situation in Northern Ireland has not changed one jot after the recent elections there. As expected following the last NI Assembly elections, Sinn Féin became the largest party in local government. However the DUP maintained its vote and share of seats, with Jim Allister’s TUV only marginally eating into its vote. The North is not any less divided than it was on constitutional issues or the Northern Ireland Protocol and ‘Windsor’ Agreement.
Of course it is expected that the DUP will seek to find a face-saving way to come back in to the Assembly and Executive, though this time with Jeffrey Donaldson holding the (equally powerful but symbolically less prestigious) post of Deputy First Minister to Michelle O’Neill’s position as First Minister. As usual in such circumstances money will be part of making it happen – and it might even materialise unlike some instances in the past; the DUP will claim success on this front. It would seem the woeful economic situation in the North with quite drastic cuts on top of an already appalling situation is being used by Chris Heaton-Harris, the Secretary of State, as a tool of leverage. But it is people in need of health and social services who suffer.
The danger is that the British government will give the DUP ‘assurances’ about the position of Northern Ireland in relation to its membership of the United Kingdom which it is not its to give. The Good Friday Agreement is quite clear about the responsibilities of both governments and when a referendum on unification should take place based on a judgement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which is a rather subjective arrangement.
Influential unionist figure Jamie Bryson has recently argued in the News Letter https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/opinion/letters/jamie-bryson-the-constitutional-future-of-northern-ireland-should-be-a-matter-for-all-of-the-uk-not-just-ni-4161966 that any decision on constitutional change should either be taken on an all-UK basis or having majorities in Northern Ireland, the Republic, and Britain. Stating that “A state has a right to protect its territorial integrity”, as he does in this piece, might sound fine but pays no attention to the realities of Irish history and the colonisation of Ireland by Britain. The problem about such possibilities is that they fly in the face of the Good Friday Agreement (and other, prior, statements or arrangements such as the Downing Street Declaration). The DUP is desperate to save face with some UK government declaration about the position of Northern Ireland in the UK; the problem is that such declarations may also be contrary to the Good Friday Agreement, and make the situation worse and more intractable in the long run.
Arriving at the Good Friday Agreement was a tortuous process and “50% +1” determining a ‘United Kingdom’ or a ‘United Ireland’ is a very crude mechanism, far from ideal, but it is what is there. However what we have argued for before is that not only should there be a clear picture of what a united Ireland might entail – and that is for the government and people of the Republic to offer – but there would be a clear ‘road map’ of a process that would take place following a “50% +1” vote in favour of a united Ireland, and that this should include extensive consultation with unionists, nationalists and ‘neithers’ in the North.
That process following such a vote would be key to having a peaceful transition. It should certainly not be rushed but how long it would take, and what stages there would be, should be carefully outlined. The possibility of a continuation of Stormont as a regional assembly has had some recognition of its possibility south of the border and it might be an important part of assuring Northern unionists and loyalists that the were not going to be consumed into, devoured by, the current Irish state (the bogey man of ‘Rome rule’ has long gone). And the people of the Republic have a lot of thinking to do as to how to make a new state work and be acceptable to Northerners of all kinds, nationalist as well as unionist.
We are, however, nowhere near the situation of a border poll, or, indeed, if it was called a majority voting for Irish unity. There may now be a majority of Catholics (cultural Catholics that is) in the North but they too need to be persuaded that an all-island state is the best for everyone, including themselves. The old jest about loyalty to the half crown (when last used in 1971 this was a coin with purchasing value of more than a pound today) rather than the Crown is a pointer that economic considerations cannot be dismissed on either side.
And a relatively recent poll by the Belfast Telegraph told that a considerable majority of the current ‘neithers’ (identifying as neither unionist nor nationalists) would at the moment opt for the status quo. This could of course change, and, if the Republic outlined a process which was fair in terms of transition, and the likelihood of fast economic advancement, it could change quite rapidly.
The task for unionists, from their point of view, should not be looking for declarations from the British government and so on but be to make Northern Ireland such an attractive place for cultural Catholics that they too did not want to ‘forsake the blue skies of freedom for the grey mists of an Irish Republic’. Some wiser unionists realise this, but not necessarily how to go about it, and unionism as a whole is far from being aware of it. It remains to be seen whether unionism can actually make a real effort to make cultural Catholics and nationalists feel right at home; it requires a significant change of mindset.
Meanwhile there will be the issue of making Stormont work since its dysfunctionality is an inherent feature of how it does or does not do business and how it tries to decide on things. We have previously supported decision making methodologies promoted by the de Borda Institute www.deborda.org which are as inclusive as possible and advance the possibility of decisions actually being taken as opposed to impasses on various important issues including education. Whether and when the Assembly will make changes after it is back and running – as it may well be later in the year – remains to be seen.
The uncertainty regarding the economic future of things as they stand in the light of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the ‘facing both ways’ (UK and EU) nature of the economy, will take some time to be worked out. If Northern Ireland does prosper, and productivity per head is currently way below the Republic, it will be fascinating to see how this affects constitutional preferences. On the one hand fewer people in a prosperous North might wish to risk rocking the boat by joining with the Republic. However on the other hand if the North is no longer a major beneficiary of the British Exchequer, joining with the Republic becomes more possible economically even in the short term before any possible north-south development kicks in after a united Ireland.
In the longer term the UK is likely to seek a closer deal with the EU and that might mean, by the time any possibility of people voting for a united Ireland came around, that the North joining with the Republic would not risk the current advantage of ‘facing both ways’. However things are all to play for. The advantage of the ‘neithers’ having the casting vote is that it is up to both sides, unionist and nationalist, to be on their best behaviour and try to appeal to those outside of their ‘natural’ ethnic voting tribe. It is unlikely that all, or much, will be sweetness and light but that at least does give some hope that decision making may be made at least partly on logical and rational thought rather than simple tribal allegiance.
Ireland faces a choice as to whether to be a small bit player in a militaristic EU/NATO alliance or to plough a perhaps sometimes lonely but much more fulfilling role as an active agent for peace in the world. But any loneliness would only be temporary because of the friends it would make – as it is, an Irish passport is one of the most acceptable around the world because of Ireland’s past positions and ‘soft power’. Those who think that NATO and the EU are agents bringing peace need to consider the process of 20th and 21st century history – and extrapolate from current EU stances to the EU becoming a bullying superpower on the world stage, similar to the USA, later in the 21st century (just look at the current role of Frontex). The development of the EEC/EU as a force for peace in Europe is well and truly lost in the past.
It is hard to establish exactly where the Irish government and establishment push for full military and foreign policy integration with NATO and the EU comes from. Wanting to be with the ‘big boys’ is certainly part of it. This editorial will, further on, give some quotations from Afri’s new “A force for good?” pamphlet on Irish neutrality. But we would go further and raise the question of whether this fixation stems partly from an inferiority complex, perhaps coming from Ireland’s colonial past. The revolutionary generation in the Free State/Republic had an emphasis, naturally enough, on anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism (Karen Devine’s contribution in the Afri pamphlet is a brilliant summary of the positive aspect of this in Frank Aiken’s thinking and action). But as EEC membership beckoned, neutrality became considered by some politicians as backward, regressive and not what was needed in Ireland – in a sense a ‘culchie’ option – making its way in a world dominated by the USA and a rich Europe.
In the Afri pamphlet, Iain Atack and Carol Fox do refer to the idea that to be ‘good Europeans’* has been part of the thinking in abandoning neutrality (along with other factors). But what does being a ‘good European’ mean? Supporting militarisation and the arms industry? Being uncritical of the development of the EU as a military superpower closely aligned with NATO?
With formerly neutral countries in Europe joining NATO, surely there is a greater need than ever before for Ireland to take a neutral and active stance for peace. It is simply nonsense to think that the only possible international role Ireland can play in the future is a small, even insignificant, member of a large military alliance. The promulgation of Irish neutrality goes back as far as Wolfe Tone. Eamon de Valera played a significant role in the League of Nations. As the Afri pamphlet points out, the drift to Irish EU foreign policy and military integration has led to relative neglect of the UN – and, we might add, perhaps a wasted role as a UN Security Council member. Ireland has played a significant part in the development of peace internationally. Current directions will lead to the total negation of that role and Ireland simply being another cog in a great western militarist machine. It is already happening – for ‘NATO in Ireland’ see https://www.thejournal.ie/irish-defence-forces-nato-evaluation-artillery-5927841-Nov2022/
There are many ways that Ireland can play a positive role in peacemaking in the future, all of which are either dependent on, or would have a contribution made by, Irish neutrality. Building up a skilled team of mediators for different levels of conflict is one such role, engaging before there are even ‘rumours of war’ or armed conflict. Engaging with different parties or governments before conflicts have got ‘hot’ is another related area of work. Pushing and working for the further development of international law in relation to war is a further area – and working to get existing laws implemented and respected. Nonviolent peacekeeping can be explored as well as Ireland’s well-established – and respected – role in military peacekeeping.
This is only scratching at the surface of what is possible, even for a small country like Ireland, and all could be achieved for a small fraction of the additional money which the country is going to spend on army and armaments – which is irrelevant to Ireland’s human and ecological security needs (see the video of the StoP webinar on this, mentioned in the news section). Our politicians and elite seem to suffer from a total failure of imagination and seek no more than being a very small cog in a very well-oiled, and destructive, military machine.
Now, on to a few quotes from Afri’s pamphlet (see news section in this issue). The title of Joe Murray’s Foreword says it all: “Ireland should be a voice for Demilitarisation, De-escalation and Disarmament in the World”. Karen Devine points out that “Ireland used her postcolonial identity and history to gain support from other UN members. A fiercely-guarded commitment to independence from big power pressures, facilitated by an equally strong commitment to neutrality, produced radical and far-reaching proposals for peace in central Europe. Frank Aiken’s formulae for peace are vitally relevant to resolving the Ukrainian situation today……”
Mairead Maguire is quite clear that “Contrary to its claims, NATO is not a defensive organization. Its purpose from the start has been to act as an instrument for US world domination and to prevent all challenges to US hegemony.” John Maguire meanwhile teases out what has been going on in Ireland: “The….strategy involved: Government denials at every stage that referendums were necessary; joining NATO/PNP without the manifesto-promised referendum;’reform’ of the Referendum Commission’s mandate, from presenting the arguments For and Against to magisterially pronouncing on ‘The Facts’ – and above all the blatant rejection of two legally binding referendum results, Nice 1 and Lisbon 1.” John Maguire also usefully uses the image of a funnel: “The abiding image is of a funnel; such debate as cannot be prevented is guided – if necessary, simply shoehorned – into an ever-narrowing channel; a travesty in what our constitution still confirms is a republic.”
In the Afri pamphlet, Tarak Kauff concludes his piece “Stand up Ireland, defend your neutrality. The global community needs you to do that.” Ireland may be a little island falling off the edge of Europe but Tarak Kauffman’s admonition shows that such a matter is of much greater significance. As peacemakers we can stand tall. As warmakers we will collude with, and hide under the coat tails of, the great powers, and contribute to the militarist mania infesting the world.
* INNATE’s printable poster on being ‘a good European’ can be found at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ under “Europe and World…[EW]”
Billy King shares his monthly thoughts
Here is my pot-pourri for this month, or, given the content, perhaps my veggie hot pot…..[Or is it just you going to pot? – Ed]
Hopefully never taking off……
A considerable part of success in nonviolent action lies in creativity and imagination. Doing things differently, perhaps with humour or verve (not to mention nerve), can be vital. On the other hand repetition (e.g. walk ons at Shannon Airport) can also be symbolic, particularly where the potential cost to participants is high (legal charges lasting for years and the risk of a significant sentence in the case of Shannon walk ons).
But links are important too – what are the buttresses or pillars that hold up a particularly unjust policy? People around the world have been aghast at some of the goings on in British politics and policies, and none more than the dangerous and crazy, human rights destroying policy of exporting asylum seekers to Rwanda where they will be out of sight, out of mind – and probably driven out of their minds by being dumped thousands of miles away by a rich world system of screwing anybody unable to stand up freely for themselves – and a lot of those as well.
Lateral thinking on the ‘pillars of injustice’ front was what came to mind by news that an airline which had contracted to deport people from Britain to Rwanda had withdrawn. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/oct/21/airline-hired-uk-rwanda-deportations-pulls-out-privilege-style?CMP=share_btn_link
In this case, human rights and anti-torture activists, in opposing a woeful British government policy, put pressure not directly on the British government (which might be considered a bit of a lost cause, in more ways than one) but on a firm which had been willing (wiling?) to sell its soul to do the government’s bidding. Taking the anti-deportation case directly to bodies who do business with the firm and and other potential customers has succeeded; the firm realising that being a human rights destroyer was not a good image and likely to be detrimental to the business overall. So they have withdrawn. And hopefully that is a significant undermining of a British government policy that is inhuman, racist and a lot of other things beside.
So think laterally, and think of commercial pressure you can bring.
The home manager
The citizens of the Republic most likely face a referendum in 2023 on Article 41.2 of the Constitution which states “… the state recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” and “the state shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”
There is more to this area than meets the eye. Of course this anachronistic and discriminatory piece in Bunreact na hÉireann should be obliterated and removed. But there are lots of issues here – family, cultural, economic, human rights, and so on.
The term ‘housewife’ (a term not used in the Constitution) is also anachronistic. In the era of hybrid or remote working, many men are also in the home and it is up to a couple or the household to sort out who does what. Statistically women still do far more work in the home on housekeeping and child care than men but things have been changing even if equality may be some considerable distance away in heterosexual households.
If someone, woman or man – currently more likely to be a woman than a man – decides to stay at home to look after children and manage the home then that can be a Good Thing in terms of the family’s lifestyle and wellbeing. It is likely to lead to less pressure overall, and that can be good for all concerned, because combining paid work and looking after a home can be stressful. There are many tasks to be done about the home, especially with young children, including conveying them to pre-school or school, cleaning, washing, cooking and shopping, organising other eventualities such as doctors visits, play dates, and so on. There is a lot to be done.
Finance is an essential element in this. In many or most families today and in the recent past, if there are two adults then both may need to go ‘out’ to work to survive financially (today ‘out to work’ can mean paid work remotely at home), or they may prefer to do so. On the other hand if children are very young then creche fees may cancel out an adult’s pay. People can make their own decisions about what is possible and feels good for them and their family and it is right that people should have a choice without feeling constrained one way or another by norms and societal expectations. Making a statement in the Constitution about gender roles, except to support and promote gender equality, is inappropriate in 2023, whatever about 1937 (when the Constitution was first enacted). Providing adequate financially accessible support for pre-school children in creches where both parents work is a major issue in the Republic (and also in the North).
Finding a replacement for the term ‘housewife’ which is non-sexist and recognises the role a stay at home parent or a parent who does a significant amount of work in the home is a difficult one and it does not need to be in the Constitution. I would suggest the term ‘home manager’ – because that is what the role entails.
Taoiseach goes ballistic at the plain truth
He was raging. “Taoiseach Micheál Martin has angrily rejected an accusation that the Government is “cynically using Putin’s war to drive a coach and four through Ireland’s neutrality” https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2022/10/25/it-makes-my-blood-boil-taoiseach-rejects-accusation-the-government-is-using-putins-war-to-address-irelands-neutrality/
Oh no, he would never do that when it is as obvious as anything that is precisely what the three government parties (FF, FG and Greens) are doing and have been doing by both commission and omission – in alliance of course with others in elite circles including in the army and business. I am not saying they don’t want to do ‘right’ for Ukraine according to their views of what is ‘right’.
But hey, they didn’t need the excuse of the Ukraine war to support moving ever closer to EU and NATO militarism through Nice and Lisbon referenda, joining NATO’s so-called ‘Partnership for Peace’, and EU’s PESCO. The Ukraine war has been an added opportunity to get Ireland on board the militarist train.
But Martin let the cat out of the bag (or the missile out of the silo) in going on to say “I made it clear that we’re not joining Nato, that no government decision has been taken. People can have different perspectives on that. I suggest we have a citizen’s assembly in the fullness of time, but not now in the middle of this conflict, this war.” In other words it is clearly on the government agenda to move towards NATO membership and/or full EU-military participation, whatever proves possible; a citizens’ assembly would only be mooted if a change is desired. They just don’t judge the time to be the most opportune at the moment. If there was an open and accessible citizens’ assembly on the issue, as opposed to a government stitch up, then the peace movement and neutrality groups could face that eventuality with confidence as an opportunity to put their case. The political elite currently continually say ‘nothing to see here’ when their role has been to slowly whittle neutrality away until it is totally meaningless..
Frank Aiken, former Fianna Fáil Minister for External (i.e. Foreign) Affairs for 15 years in total in the 1950s and 1960s, and a stalwart campaigner for non-alignment and disarmament, would have something rather strong to say about the turncoat government of today and particularly his own party. How are the mighty peacemakers fallen.
Spicing it up
As some of you may remember [How could we forget?- Ed], I jump into matters culinary from time to time and have a wee publication on veggie and vegan cuisine to my name https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/ on this very site. [No one else would have published it? It sounds like you jumping from the frying pan into the oven – Ed] I am returning to this area of life because a request was made from a relation for suggestions about spicing up their cooking. Now I was wary of teaching my granny to boil a kettle (the vegan equivalent of teaching my granny to suck eggs…) and wanted to suggest fairly straightforward and easy ways to make meals more interesting. I thought it might be worth sharing a shorter and simpler version of what I shared with them – some suggestions are lacto-vegetarian and more are vegan. Bon appetit!
Using condiments: Try different pickles and sauces, perhaps from Asian/Chinese supermarkets; and there are some great Irish pickles and chutneys around that are well worth trying – or make your own;.use grated parmesan (or other grated or dried) cheese to put on top of stews and other food; use fried battered onion to add flavour and crunch on top of dishes (may be much cheaper in larger bags in Asian supermarkets); use nooch (nutritional yeast) as a topping (it is vegan), either plain nutritional yeast or mixed.
To make nooch ‘plant based parmesan equivalent’: Take 100 – 150g raw cashews, sunflowers or other nuts/seeds, 30 – 40g of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon garlic powder; salt to taste (needs very little, a sprinkle if you like, or none at all). Grind the mixture quite fine and keep in an airtight container, probably in the fridge. I am not sure I particularly like the US English word ‘nooch’ and think I would prefer something like ‘nuteast’ (a shortened word from ‘nutritional yeast’) but nooch it is.
– Use mashed potato as a topping to turn a bean. lentil or other dish/stew into “shepherd’s pie”. You can use flavourings in the mash as well as butter and milk (or olive oil and plant based milk) such as wasabi/horseradish.
– Use a crumble topping to turn a bean or vegetable mix into a vegetable crumble. Mix vegetable oil with wholemeal flour until like breadcrumbs but add whatever herbs, curry, cheese, nutritional yeast to flavour and add umami (richness). Cook in oven for c.20 minutes.
– Use breadcrumbs, again with herb or spice flavourings, cheese or nutritional yeast, as a topping on bean or vegetable mixes. Cook in oven for c.15 minutes.
– For a cheap highly nutritious addition to crumble or breadcrumb toppings, add ground linseed (I use a coffee grinder); grinding makes the linseed more digestible. Golden linseed look better than brown but the latter are much cheaper and equally nutritious and look little different when mixed. Whole linseeds are much cheaper to buy than ground.
– Roasted nuts or toasted seeds make an easy way to add a contrast, different taste (and protein). Lightly cover nuts in oil (a teaspoon or two and mix by hand) and lightly salt as desired; you can use a mixture of cashews and peanuts but cashews in particular can burn very easily so keep an eye on them, 15 minutes is probably plenty in the oven.
– Sunflower seeds can be dry toasted on a heavy pan over a low to medium heat, stirring and shaking frequently to see they don’t burn. When golden brown slope than pan so they bunch up and cover lightly with soya sauce and stir; the soya sauce will dry fast and as the salt is on the outside you get more taste for less sodium.
– Easy ‘sweet and sour’ sauce’; mix together tomato ketchup and half that volume of cider vinegar and less again of soya sauce; add water to double the volume and a small amount of sugar. Heat and add cornflour in water to thicken, stirring well, it will darken as it thickens, add more water if too thick.
And some fairly easy dishes:
Sauté onion and kale (or cabbage) in oil until cooked (you can use uncooked scallions instead of the onion) and mix with mashed potato which has plenty of butter or oil and milk (plant based if desired) added, and seasoning such as black pepper. It’s as Irish as champ.
Sauté chopped veg until nearly cooked. Add parsley sauce or a tin of condensed soup. Top with crumble mix and cook in oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
Sesame fried cabbage
Sauté chopped cabbage or kale in toasted sesame oil and add sesame seeds, add more oil or a little bit of water if starting to burn – cook on medium heat, covered most of the time.
Nan bread pizza
Lightly sauté whatever ingredients you would like for the topping – onion, garlic, chilli, finely cut other veg such as broccoli, peppers etc. Cover nan bread with tomato puree and add sautéed veg on top. Cover with cheese or nutritional yeast/nooch and grill as desired.
Add a jar of pesto to cooked pasta along with olives and/or dried tomatoes chopped, possibly tofu cubes, and/or anything else you fancy.
Gram (chick pea) flour
Make savoury pancakes with sieved gram flour (sieve or have lots of lumps) with chopped rosemary and other flavourings (e.g. curry, cajun spice, bouillon) and water. You can add bread soda if desired to help make the pancakes rise/be lighter but just adding water makes the batter, and for vegans – and coeliacs – that is obviously a better batter. Gram flour is also the basis of bhajis and pakoras.
Additions to stews etc: Try different flavourings including wasabi (horseradish), cajun spice and Marmite (yeast extract, other brands may be available); add nutritional yeast (flakes) for umami; try different soup stocks and bouillon powder (but go for ‘Reduced salt’ or ‘Low salt ’versions if you can because others can be very very salty); use coconut milk or (it’s cheaper) creamed coconut (blocks) to give things a different ‘east Asian’ flavour and umami; if roasting potatoes, add a mix of paprika and chilli (or other flavourings such as cajun spice) sprinkled over the oiled potatoes. Or do ‘roasted roots’ (e.g. carrot, parsnip, beetroot, onion as well as potato).
I can’t remember what it was in but the late Frank Kelly had an audio skit where he was an Irish reporter for the BBC describing the Irish sport of “slaggin’”. While much of slagging is not in strict accord with nonviolent communication, and can be rude and crude, it depends on the spirit it is offered and the spirit it is received, it can be good natured…..and it is obviously easier to be on the issuing end of slagging than the receiving end. It can be difficult, however, requiring considerable skill, to be a nonviolent slagger. And it can indeed be cruel if the slagee (person being slagged, I think I just invented a word….) takes great offence. However in Frank Kelly’s sport report it is dynamic in that the slagee comes back at the original slagger and so it goes on.
In the following thread referred to there are many instances where someone never wore a garment again after a particularly effective jibe, but there are some brilliantly innovative comments made on the spur of the moment. Indeed slagging seems to be an Irish sport, and that has minuses as well as pluses, though as a sport it is preferable to plain hurling abuse.
However you would want to have a stone sense of humour not to laugh at some of the thread about comments made to people about what they wore (and other comments) at https://twitter.com/janky_jane/status/1426981976142123010?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Sometimes people have been marked by a nickname for life after one evening or day’s sartorial incident. Many of these tales are shared by the slagee themselves. There are other major questions about Twitter with its recent elongated musky smell [Now that is really slaggin’ – Ed] – that it is likely to become even more tolerant of intolerance and hate speech, but we are not [the royal ‘we’? – Ed] exploring that here.
Not all comments on this thread are perceived sartorial misdemeanors – one was about the son of a guy named Con Kearney who got called Chilli. But on clothing:
– “I wore a suit with a matching tie and pocket square to my first day of work at an advertising company (I thought I was going to be in Mad Men I guess) and the staff sent around and signed a communion card for me with a fiver in it. “
– “I once wore a silver jacket to college, turned up late for class, said ‘sorry I’m late’, lecturer said, ‘that’s ok’ then waited til I was halfway across the front of the full class before following up with ‘trouble with the spaceship again was it?’. “
– “Early 90s Omagh, bloke comes into the bar wearing a puffa jacket, 120 notes it cost, everyone is mocking him, barman says ‘not sure why you’re mocking him I’ve one of those at home…’ lad getting mocked “See?” Barman continues ‘aye its round the immersion heater’ uproar“
– “Back in Dublin after travelling S. America, decked out in a visually assaulting combo of zebra print leggings and tiger pattern knee high boots. Queuing into well known Dublin nightclub that evening was asked “Did you get let out of Dublin zoo or make a break for it yourself?”
Slagging can consist of severe and cruel put downs which are rather unfair to anyone on the receiving end but that is at its most negative. It’s not about slagging as such but put downs when I once get in trouble with someone well known on the peace scene for accompanying their article on affirmation in school situations with a word bubble cartoon. In that the teacher says “Can you give me an example of a ‘put up’ instead of a ‘put down’?” Reply: “How do I ‘put up’ with you?!”. Fair or unfair satire and humour? You judge. To me it was attempt to make the article lighter and therefore more accessible.
One time I felt justified in a bit of slagging was when someone arrived late for a committee where I was the paid secretary. He was an intelligent and useful but verbose participant who was known to arrive late from and/or leave early for another ‘important engagement’. He had just retired but continued his position on the committee concerned. As he came in rather late I said “I’m glad to see retirement hasn’t changed you….”. I got away with it and they didn’t sack me for it either (the sacking came later for other reasons….)
Well, if you are a soap fan you haven’t needed to look further than UK politics in the last couple of months for on the edge of your seat excitement and ‘follow-uppers’. In politics, boring can be good but with a near-billionaire now in charge in the UK, what could go wrong????? The UK economy on the wane isn’t good news for De Nort but as Larry Speight puts it eloquently in this issue, it’s a fairy tale to think the pie can keep getting bigger, and that’s still a fable that most people in most places believe in, including Ireland. When will the reality kick in that redistribution of wealth, along with a different lifestyle, is part of the answer? For a free printable A4 poster on this see https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ and scroll to “Economic Justice…[EJ]”
In the Northern hemisphere we are now approaching the Real Winter which may not be much fun for many people. So I hope you can stay warm and stay warm-hearted, until we meet again, I know where and I know when (the December issue), I remain, Yours truly, Billy.