Neutrality in the Constitution?
The issue of getting neutrality enshrined in the Irish constitution has been around for some time and been debated without firm conclusions, however Galway Quakers and Friends have an initiative on the issue proposing that:
“A referendum for the Irish people be held as an imperative in order to amend the Constitution to reaffirm that we are a militarily neutral country and will not support the supply of arms or armaments or military personnel to any conflict or country for combat purposes. A) Ireland’s Defence Forces will only be used to protect and defend its people from harm and its sovereignty – air, land, and sea – from challenges, within the remit of international law. B) Ireland will not join any military alliances and will remain militarily non-aligned and will not cooperate in any belligerent conflicts. C) Ireland will continue to cooperate in United Nations approved Peace Keeping Missions. Ireland as a country will actively encourage the greater use of international mediation processes for the resolution of disputes and conflicts. D) Ireland will continue to cooperate in United Nations approved Peace Keeping Missions. Ireland as a country will actively encourage the greater use of international mediation processes for the resolution of disputes and conflicts. E) Ireland will provide food, shelter and medical assistance to refugee and displaced persons from and within war-torn countries. F) Ireland will decline to join NATO or a European army or become involved militarily in other countries conflicts. G) Ireland will cease the present arrangements which permit other nations to transit military troops, prisoners and equipment through Irish airports, with the exception of United Nations approved missions.”
CAJ: New director, Immigration Project
Daniel Holder, former deputy director of CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice has been appointed as the new director following the retirement of Brian Gormally. Daniel has been deputy director since 2011 and previous work includes being in the policy team of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) for five years, and leading a migrant worker equality project. Meanwhile five year funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will allow CAJ move its Immigration Project into its core work programme. https://caj.org.uk/
Russian roulette at Zaporizhzhia
Adi Roche of Chernobyl Children International (CCI) issued a statement on 10th March: “The World’s most vulnerable nuclear power plant is in an urgently deteriorating state, as countless bombs
and explosions wreak havoc on the facility in Ukraine. On Thursday, Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
withstood over 20 explosions and sustaining severe damage to its vital safety system, further heightening
the possibility of the vulnerable plant becoming a weapon of mass-destruction in the war……The plant, which was the second to be occupied after Chernobyl, has machine-guns placed on the roof of one of the reactors and hundreds of Russian soldiers stationed there. This is the first time in the history of the atomic age that a nuclear power facility has been weaponised.” In response to this increasingly precarious situation and heightened nuclear threat, Adi Roche has called for the Irish Government to act as a leader in lobbying the United Nations to take more direct action. Since the beginning of the war, CCI have been advocating for all nuclear facilities to be deemed a ‘No War Zone’
and for world leaders to invoke the Hague Convention which defines any attack on a nuclear facility to be an‘war crime’. See https://tinyurl.com/4adj2rwn Meanwhile CCI work in the region continues unabated.
Belfast Anti War Group; Conference, Biden time in Belfast
A mini-conference with three topics – the war in Ukraine (speaker Grace Cowan), Julian Assange and the freedom of the press, and ‘Are we headed for a nuclear future?’ (speaker Prof John Barry) takes place from 12.30 – 4.30 pm on Saturday 22nd April. The venue is Room 02/026 in the Peter Froggatt Centre, Queen’s University. Contact Belfastantiwargroup@mail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/BelfastAntiWar
l Meanwhile Belfast Anti War Group has organised a Zoom meeting to discuss coordination between different people opposed to USA warmongering regarding President Biden’s visit to Belfast on 11th April; this meeting takes place at 7pm on 3rd April (as Nonviolent News is coming out); contact them for details/plans.
Corrymeela: GFA recommitment to reconciliation
Corrymeela are organising a service/event at Clonard Monastery, Belfast on Sunday, 16th April from 3pm – 4pm marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement; they say “This is a chance to acknowledge the courage of those who helped create a moment of hope 25 years ago, and an opportunity to rededicate ourselves today to a just and lasting peace.” There are other related conference/discussion events being organised in Ballycastle and Belfast: see the website at https://www.corrymeela.org/events/227/peace-matters-25-years-since
De Borda on Good Friday Agreement referendums
The either/or, binary nature of decision making on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland gets a good going over, with alternatives, in a new document (one among a number) on the de Borda Institute website at http://www.deborda.org/home/2023/3/13/2023-7-peace-preferendums-and-the-gfa.html It starts off with a quote from the Dalai Lama that ” I have noticed an inclination for [western] people to think in terms of ‘black’ and ‘white’ and ‘either, or’. They [tend] to lose sight of the grey areas which inevitably exist between two points of view.”
Front Line Defenders: new strategic plan
The Front Line Defenders annual lectures (Belfast, Dublin and Galway) have just taken place with Iranian feminist activist Parvin Ardalan. However you can read about their work and who they support, along with their strategic plan for the period to 2027, on their website at https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en FLD is based in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
PANA support for UN peacekeeping
Roger Cole, chair of PANA/Peace And Neutrality Alliance, has criticised the decision of Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin to withdraw Irish troops from the UN peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights in order as he suggests to have the capacity to fulfil his commitment to EU Battlegroups 2024/2025: ‘Will the Minister now explain if he has now abandoned the UN peacekeeping strategy to support EU militarisation, with their ever-expanding weapons industries, and their increasing warmongering strategy.’ The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights in May 1974, helping to maintain a separation and peace here. 88 members of the Irish Defence Forces have been killed while serving on overseas missions since 1960. www.pana.ie and don’t miss the March 2023 issue of ‘Irish Foreign Affairs’ online there which looks at non-alignment and Ireland.
Soil, soul, and society at Síolta Chroí
Síolta Chroí in Co Monaghan have an 8 day European training course exploring soil and the interconnectedness with society and inner work from 21st – 28th April; it will include participants from Poland and Romania as well as Ireland. The cost is just €50 – 100 but participants must commit to the whole programme. Expressions of interest to https://tinyurl.com/2hwx5mnc and you can contact Síolta Chroí at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for urgent action on hate crime
The Coalition Against Hate Crime, which has 23 civil society organisational members, has called on the Government to be ready to implement Hate Crime Legislation – and comprehensive actions to tackle the root causes of hate, in light of a spike in Garda recorded hate crime and incidents with a 29% increase in An Garda Síochána figures of recorded hate crimes and hate-related (non-crime) incidents in 2022. “The Coalition knows that the true number of hate crimes and hate-related incidents in Ireland is far higher as under-reporting is a significant issue.” The Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill is currently progressing through the Oireachtas. https://www.iccl.ie/news/hate-crime-coalition-calls-on-government-to-be-ready-to-implement-hate-crime-legislation/
Tools for Solidarity: 4093 hand tools, 283 sewing machines…
….This was part of a shipment of tools which has arrived with TfS’s partners in the Njombe Region of Tanzania. There is more information and news in the March edition of their newsletter. Meanwhile, with Brexit, TfS involvement with the European Solidarity Corps has had to end but a new partnership has opened up with the French Service Civique, and ongoing partnership with Eirene, and Fachstelle Internationale Freiwilligendienste. Full details about the work of Tools for Solidarity, whose main base is in Belfast, at https://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/
Amnesty welcomes review of PSNI strip searching children
Amnesty International has welcomed a Policing Board review of the practice of strip searching children by PSNI; between 2021 and 2022, 53 strip searches were carried out on children. Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International (AI) said “The use of strip searches on children is a serious violation of their human rights and dignity”. AI has previously called for the practice to be banned. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Northern-Ireland
Afri on Russia-Ukraine war
Afri issued a statement in mid-March, “This cannot go on” about the war in Ukraine: “The lesson of the Good Friday agreement is that talking succeeds where war fails…..” See https://www.afri.ie/category/this-cannot-go-on/
Troubles in London at Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum in London is organising its first exhibition on the Northern Ireland Troubles which will run from 26th May until January 2024; entitled Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles, it will be theme-based rather than chronological. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-65094116 NI Good Relations Awards
The Awards presentations to the following people and one group were part of the T:BUC Engagement Forum: Angila Chada – Community Relations Council Exceptional Achievement Award (peace building); Adekanmi Abayomi – Good Relations Volunteer of the Year Award; Aaron Smith – Good Relations Youth Award (Under 25); Nicole Sloan – Good Relations Community Champion Award; Dennett Valley Healthy Network – Good Relations Connecting Communities Project of the Year Award. https://www.community-relations.org.uk/news-centre/good-relations-awards-2023-winners-announced
Israel and Palestine: AI petition, PCI report
On 20th March, Amnesty International offices around the world, including Ireland, delivered petitions to Israeli authorities, calling on them to put an end to the demolition of Palestinian homes as a first step towards dismantling apartheid. Amnesty International’s petition, ”Demolish Apartheid, Not Palestinian Homes”, is addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has been signed by people in at least 174 countries. https://www.amnesty.ie/ also has their 2022/3 annual report with its round up on the global state of human rights.
lMeanwhile a report has been published by Pax Christi International, A Testimony of Witness from members of a Pax Christi delegation from six different countries who recently returned from a 10-day peace pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is available at https://paxchristi.net/2023/03/15/pax-christi-international-publishes-a-testimony-of-witness/
StoP: ‘War is a racket’ leaflet
StoP/Swords to Plougshares Ireland has produced a short leaflet on the war in Ukraine and the contrast with talking which led to the Good Friday Agreement. The ‘War is a racket’ leaflet is available for download at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Ukraine-leaflet-War-is-a-Racket.pdf with the two sides of the A5 leaflet side by side on A4 to enable back-to-back printing. https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/