Tag Archives: Peace news

News, May 2024

Lex Innocentium/Law of the Innocents, 21st Century

A new project is being launched called Lex Innocentium, 21st Century. It is inspired, in the first instance, by the original Lex Innocentium, The Law of the Innocents, decreed by an Irish Monk, Adomnán, ninth Abbot of Iona, in the year 697 AD at the Synod of Birr, Co. Offaly. Lex Innocentium declared it a crime to kill or harm in war women and non-combatants (those too young to engage in war). Given the very unsettled times in which we live, and given the extremely harmful and destructive nature of the weapons existing today, the project believes it is time to write a new Lex Innocentium – one for the 21st Century. This new law will include The Earth and the Future as Innocents in war; it will be a bottom-up, soft-power, people’s law – a law for and of people all over the world who are opposed to war and who care for the future of humanity and the Earth. It will also be a legacy document for future generations.

It is proposed asking those who attend the launch of the new law to sign as official signatories of the law and others will be invited to commit and subscribe to the law on the website. The organisers say “In this way, we hope to develop a roll of subscribers who can act as a collective voice for the protection of the innocent, including the Earth and the Future, from the scourge of war.” It is planned to launch on Saturday 21st of September at Birr in the morning and then Redwood Castle, Lorrha, Co Tipperary later (this has a 17th century Annals of the Four Masters link to Adomnán’s Law). It is hoped to launch the website shortly. Contact sean27english@gmail.com Watch this space for more info.

Afri Doolough Famine Walk: Remembrance and Solidarity – for Gaza

Afri’s annual Doolough valley famine walk, commemorating a real Gorta Mór famine walk in 1849 in which many people died on the way to and from Delphi Lodge, takes place on Saturday 18th May. This year the Famine Walk is dedicated to highlighting and standing against genocide in Palestine. Walk leaders are; Faten Sourani, from Gaza, who is a lawyer and advocate for human rights and social justice; Donal O’Kelly who is a writer, performer and activist; and music will be by Irish-Palestinian artist Roisín El Cherif. Registration takes place from 11 am – 12 noon on 18th May at the parish hall in the centre of Louisburgh, Co Mayo, followed by an opening ceremony; buses will then take participants to the starting point at Delphi Lodge (no parking there). A brief ceremony will be held in Delphi Lodge before the 17 km walk back to Louisburgh (pick up by shuttle car if it gets too much). Registration fee is €25, unwaged €15, children free, including the bus; sponsorship is welcome with money going to cover costs and support Afri’s work. Details at https://www.afri.ie/category/famine-walk-2024/ and film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF-je_JYhPc

UN Chernobyl Disaster: Warning of further disaster

26th April is ‘United Nations Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day’. Adi Roche, voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International (CCI), has warned that the full-extent of the Chernobyl disaster has not yet been realised, and that worse is on the horizon if the war in Ukraine escalates further. Since the beginning of the war and the invasion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in February 2022, CCI have been advocating for all nuclear facilities 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 a ‘war crime’.

However, with the weaponising of nuclear power at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, the country falls further and further away from the confines of safety; “The accident at Chernobyl happened as a result of faults in the technology and human error. However, if a nuclear accident happens at Zaporizhzhia, it could very well be intentional. We cannot overstate the current critical situation and nuclear threat in Ukraine. We must do everything in our power to prevent Zaporizhzhia from becoming the next ‘Chernobyl’. We neglect Ukraine at our peril”, Roche cautioned. See https://www.chernobyl-international.com/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53676683472/in/dateposted/

Rethinking Growth conference, 25th-26th June, at TCD, Dublin

This event, organised by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Ireland Hub https://weall.org/hub/ireland (which includes Feasta) builds on the Beyond Growth Conference, a cross-party initiative of 20 Members of the European Parliament which took place in Brussels in May 2023. It aims to bring together politicians from across the political spectrum from North and South, policymakers, practitioners, thought leaders and civil society from all around the island to reimagine the concept and role of economic growth, to explore current challenges being faced in both jurisdictions, and to build better foundations for a wellbeing economy for the island of Ireland. See https://rethinking-growth.ie/

Bitter Legacy: State impunity in the Northern Ireland conflict

A new 200-page report with this title has been issued by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. Following the introduction of the British Government’s Legacy Bill, at the request of the CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice https://caj.org.uk/ and the Pat Finucane Centre https://www.patfinucanecentre.org/ an International Expert Panel was convened by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and this is its report. The report focuses on three thematic areas: state killings and impunity, collusion and impunity, and torture and impunity.

Key findings of the report include the revelation that the British government not only engaged in collusion but also blocked proper police investigations into conflict-related killings to protect implicated security force members and agents. The report also highlights the impact of the Legacy Act, and the panel calls for its repeal, warning it will damage Britain’s worldwide reputation. The report documents much wider evidence of security force torture and ill-treatment than previously reported and dismisses state claims that only rogue security force personnel were involved in collusion. It also found that the Irish Government failed to carry out effective investigations, damaging victims’ right to justice. It includes the steps needed for justice and accountability to be achieved (with recommendations for the British and Irish governments); the full report is very comprehensive. It can be downloaded via https://www.jus.uio.no/smr/english/about/id/news/2024/report-reveals-state-impunity-in-northern-ireland-.html or via the CAJ website,

FOE 50:

Friends of the Earth in Ireland celebrated working for 50 years with a special Education Day in Dublin. You can find out about its varied projects and work, including the option of signing up for international solidarity actions, and a training weekend for youth and community workers on 17th May, at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/

Glencree 50, new board members

The members of the new Glencree board are profiled briefly on their website at www.glencree.ie along with news and information on projects. Meanwhile Glencree marks 50 years of existence this year, having been founded in 1974.

Rates: relief for arms producers but not for end recipients….

In a Northern Ireland desperate for funding to avoid further drastic cuts, it is incredible that rates relief is given to arms manufacturers and also those on the BDS list for involvement with Israel. A question from Gerry Carroll MLA revealed that while Thales was not on the list because of how the question was answered, Spirit Aerosystems, Caterpillar and Teva NI were included.

500 at April monthly Shannon Warport demo

There was a large attendance at the 2nd Sunday of the month demo (2 pm) at Shannon Airport on 14th April. A statement made there by Shannonwatch included that “The continuing misuse of Shannon airport by aircraft associated with the US military since 7th October 2023, makes the Irish State and the Irish government complicit in the war crimes and the probable genocide by Israel against the Palestinian people, because the US has been very actively supporting Israel with weapons, munitions, and political support.” Fuller info at www.shannonwatch.org and see also https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53688113690/in/photostream/

Aldergrove, Belfast Int’l Airport, joins Shannon in monthly vigil

There is now a monthly vigil at Aldergrove/Belfast International Airport at the same time as that at Shannon; 2pm on the second Sunday of the month with the next one being 12th May. Meet at the first roundabout coming from Belfast. It is opposing the role of military flights (US, UK, NATO – and these do come through the civilian part of Aldergrove) in their role in supporting genocide in Gaza. Belfast International and Aldergrove military airport share an adjoining runway which is being used as a landing site and de-facto military base for the U.S. military and NATO allies. See https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vsid-Z8Kz2_OwqjPdxJEXE56zy1vVGAs6Sne6Mw5g-0/edit and contact cairdepalestinebf@gmail.com

Good Relations awards, Good Relations Week in the North

The Good Relations awards, coordinated by the Community Relations Council, for 2024 were announced in March; the Exceptional Achievement Award (peace building) went to Elizabeth (Betty) Carlisle and Recognition Awards for Harry Maher and Joe McKeown; Good Relations Volunteer of the Year Award went to Yvonne Heaney with Recognition Awards to Helen Dunn and James Reynolds; Good Relations Community Champion Award went to David Patterson; Good Relations Youth Award (Under 25) winner was Crosslink Volunteer Team Youth Initiative; Good Relations Connecting Communities Project of the Year winner was Waterside Shared Village. https://www.community-relations.org.uk

lMeanwhile Good Relations Week 2024, with the title ‘OpportUNITY’, coordinated by the Community Relations Council, will run from Monday 16th September to Sunday 22nd September with an anticipated programme of over 200 cross community and multi-cultural events across the region. https://goodrelationsweek.com/

Corrymeela podcast

There is a new series of Corrymeela podcasts with Pádraig Ó Tuama in conversation recently with, among others, John Paul Lederach, Jan Carson, Dong Jin Kim, and Rev Dr Rachel Mann (and lots more previously). See https://www.publictheologyireland.com/podcast and www.corrymeela.org for more general news and information about Corrymeela’s work.

Police reform in a changing Ireland: ICCL and CAJ conference

Police Reform in a Changing Ireland: Next Steps After the Commission on the Future of Policing’ is a conference run by ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties in partnership with CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice; it takes place on Thursday 16th May at Renehan Hall, Maynooth University. It will take a past, present and future view of human rights-based policing on the island of Ireland, more than five years on from the publication of the final report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI). There is a range of relevant speakers. https://www.iccl.ie/police-justice-reform/iccl-caj-annual-policing-conference-2024-police-reform-in-a-changing-ireland-next-steps-after-the-commission-on-the-future-of-policing/

Videos: Afri, de Borda

lA short film about the Feile na Beatha/Festival of Living in Carlow, organised by Afri and SETU, is available on the Afri YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PJmyybMytU&t=3s See also www.afri.ie

lAn 11 minute film with Peter Emerson speaking about voting mechanisms, put together for a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences hybrid conference is available at https://vimeo.com/919681575 See also www.deborda.org

News, March 2024

Afri: Joe Murray retiring, coordinator post advertised

Joe Murray, the long time and well known coordinator of peace, justice and sustainability organisation Afri will be retiring in August this year. The permanent post of coordinator, starting in August, is now being advertised with a closing date of 26th April. The details are on the Afri website; the job advertisement at https://www.afri.ie/category/afri-hiring-new-coordinator/ and job description at https://www.afri.ie/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Afri-coordinator-job-description.pdf “Afri’s vision is of a just, peaceful, equal and sustainable world. Key areas of work identified in the current strategic plan include: 1) militarisation and peace, 2) food sovereignty, 3) climate change and climate justice, and 4) migration, refugees and homelessness.”

Applicants should have experience of managing or leading within nongovernmental organisations or grassroots movements and a variety of other experience – specified in the job description – but Afri is encouraging people to apply who feel the job is right for them even if they don’t have all the experience listed. The coordinator of Afri is one of just two full time staff and is responsible for Afri’s programme of one off and regular events, the latter including Féile Bríde and the Doolough Famine Walk, as well as a global citizen education programme. The Afri office is in Dublin but a certain amount of remote working is envisaged.

Legacy Act: Broad welcome for Belfast High Court decision

There has been widespread approval among victims and human rights groups, including Amnesty International who were involved in supporting the case, for the NI High Court decision (in a lengthy ruling) that the British Government’s Legacy Act breached the European Convention on Human Rights in offering conditional immunity from prosecution for crimes committed during the Troubles. The British government remains committed to the Act so the way forward is unclear. Word search for more details, and for background see e.g. https://caj.org.uk/our-work/legacy-of-the-past/

Thales and Palestine

In a positive crossover event, a protest and blockade of the main entrance at Thales arms company factory at Alanbrooke Road, Castlereagh, Belfast, took place for over an hour on 23rd February. Organised by an ad hoc group of activists on Palestine, with help from peace activists, over thirty people attended. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53546068897/in/dateposted/ Earlier, workers had also been leafletted as they arrived, among other things urging conversion to socially useful production. Thales is involved internationally with the prominent Israeli arms company Elbit in the production of drones including Watchkeeper – and drones are now a key aspect of warmaking without any indication in Gaza that it adds to the ‘precision’ of attacks on Hamas by the IDF.

VSI volunteer programme: Promoting peace, social justice

VSI/Voluntary Service International has launched its 2024 programme of international volunteer projects which take place across Europe, including Belgium, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and elsewhere. Most projects last for 2-3 weeks throughout the summer, with the earliest starting near the end of March, and many more starting from May onwards. VSI also has medium and long-term volunteer projects available, and various global citizenship education activities. To learn more, follow on social media or visit the website https://www.vsi.ie/volunteer/programmes/ivp/ VSI is the Irish branch of Service Civil International (SCI) and works to promote peace, social justice, sustainable development, and intercultural understanding through volunteering in Ireland and internationally, and through global citizenship education.

Palestine: Meeting violence with non-violence

A meeting at Queen’s University Belfast from 12.30 – 2.30pm (light lunch from 12 noon) on Thursday 7th March sees Prof Mohamed Abu Nimer and Dr Marwan Darweish speaking, respectively, on the role of religious identity on war and peace in Israel and Palestine, and on the role of unarmed civil protection in Palestine. The full title of the meeting is ‘Meeting violence with non-violence – Responding to injustice through peaceful interventions in Palestine’. The event is organised by the George Mitchell Institute and the School of Law at QUB. Admission is free and booking can be made at buff.ly/3SCXj7X which gives further info.

Front Line Defenders: Afghan women defying the Taliban

The 2024 Front Line Defenders (FLD) lectures in Dublin, Galway and Belfast (respectively on 11th, 12th and 14th March, times differ) are given by Afghan Woman Human Rights Defender & Journalist Horia Mosadiq on the topic ‘How Afghan Women are Defying the Taliban’. Attendance is free but the Dublin event is already ‘sold out’. She will address human rights, particularly the situation for women’s rights under the Taliban and the struggle of Human Rights Defenders and Women Human Rights Defenders in this context, as well as what can be done to support them. Run in conjunction with local bodies. See https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/front-line-defenders-annual-lecture for more info and booking. FLD is based in Blackrock, Co Dublin, their website is https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/

Afri: Secondary school resource on hunger and war

Afri has published a new GCE (Global Citizenship Education) resource entitled “Sowing seeds of peace: A Global Citizenship Education Resource on Hunger as a Consequence of War”. Designed for use by secondary school teachers, this 77 page resource includes introductory material, and sections on the scourge of war, hunger as a humanitarian cost of war, sowing seeds of peace as active citizens, and material for further learning. Addressing its intended teacher audience it states “We urge you as educators to move away from seeing and teaching about war and hunger as natural phenomena in our world, and to ensure students see both as political and human failures of will and empathy.” Available at https://www.afri.ie/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Sowing-Seeds-of-Peace-final_web.pdf

l A 10 minute video report on Afri’s Féile Bríde is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_BJKYsL8E4

Corrymeela Horizons volunteer programme

The closing date to apply to be part of the September 2024 – August 2025 volunteer programme at Corrymeela is 8th March; roles are for programme and hospitality, and cover support. Accommodation and living costs are covered. See https://www.corrymeela.org/volunteer for details.

ICCL: Human rights, facial recognition

ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties has presented to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva its alternative report highlighting issues such as gender equality, the right to housing, hate crime and the legacy of Mother and Baby Homes. https://www.iccl.ie/equality-inclusion/iccl-alternative-report-to-un-committee-on-economic-social-and-cultural-rights/ Meanwhile it has also commented on a Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee critical report on the Facial Recognition Technology bill https://www.iccl.ie/digital-data/justice-committee-highlights-serious-deficiencies-with-facial-recognition-technology-bill/

Irish Neutrality League leaflet on Triple Lock

The Irish Neutrality League (INL) has produced a very useful A5 back-to-back paper leaflet on the Triple Lock on the deployment of Irish troops abroad. It is reproduced at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53559581373/in/dateposted/ which gives contacts.

Deposit Return Scheme in Republic – how it came about

A little success….whether you judge it worth opening a bottle/can of anything is up to you, but the first ever reverse vending machines for plastic bottles and aluminium cans opened to the public at the start of February to allow people to bring back their waste and get rewarded with cash. FOE has documented how it came about – see https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/news/irelands-newly-launched-deposit-return-scheme-a-testimony-to/

Development educators and the war in Gaza

The Centre for Global Education in Belfast and Comhlámh have organised a couple of online discussions on how the development education sector should respond to the war in Gaza, with various suggestions emerging, and another meeting is planned. https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/news

Feasta: hiring communications and operations worker

Feasta is hiring a part-time Communications and Operations Facilitator which they say “should be of interest to anyone living in Ireland who is attuned to wellbeing, post-growth and doughnut economics, and who wishes to enhance their skills in communication, advocacy, logistics and digital media.”
The closing date for applications is March 12th.
https://www.feasta.org/

INNATE posters on Palestine and Israel, arms race

Four new mini-posters (A4 size for home printing) on Palestine and Israel, and one on the arms race, have been added to the sizeable set of posters on the INNATE website at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/

World Beyond War virtual film festival: Women and war

Marking International Women’s Day (March 8), World Beyond War’s “Women & War” virtual film festival from 9th – 23rd March explores the intersection of women, war, and militarized masculinity. One ticket (standard price $15, concession $5) gives access to the 3 films (to be watched at your own time) and three Zoom discussions. Details and booking at https://worldbeyondwar.org/2024filmfest/

News, No.316

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.

News, January 2024 – Supplement to Nonviolent News 315

Afri Féile Bride (Kildare), Louie Bennett gathering (Dublin)

Afri’s Féile Bride peace conference, theme “The Light of Peace”, takes place on Saturday, 10th February, in the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town; it is organised in partnership with the Brigidines and Cairde Bríde. Further details will be available on the Afri website at www.afri.ie

l Also organised by Afri, an informal annual gathering remembering Louie Bennett and her companion Helen Chenevix takes place on Sunday 7th January at 1pm at the memorial bench for them in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. There will be a presentation of flowers and conversation. “In the dark days of winter, in an ever-darker world of destruction and vengeance, Louie Bennett reminds us of a life lived well through often equally appalling times. She worked for peace throughout World War I with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). From a Church of Ireland background, she ardently pursued Irish freedom whilst unapologetically warning her fellow leaders against militarism and violence. A champion of women’s suffrage, she was a founder of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, and the first woman elected President of the Irish Trades Union Congress.

In the 1950s she confronted the pressures of the Cold War, stoutly defending neutrality and peaceful conflict resolution just as we need to do today. She would have no truck with Official Ireland’s mythical Island of Saints and Soldiers: she made Brigid Patron of the IWWU, and named her home after the woman who sold her father’s sword to feed the dispossessed.”

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 from Monday 8th January to 28th February, admission free. This exhibition is produced by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum including photos and artefacts. There is a launch event on 8th January at 4pm, booking essential. While they state that the exhibition ends on a hopeful note with how the two cities have risen from the ashes to spread a message of peace, they also say the exhibition contains content some may find distressing. 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.

l Meanwhile for the first time since 1969 there were no Troubles-related deaths in the last year, according to the PSNI https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/no-security-related-deaths-in-ni-for-first-time-since-records-began-says-psni/a934436965.html

CAJ Annual Report

The detailed and extensive work done by CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice over the last year appears in their annual report, available at https://caj.org.uk/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2023/ A couple of photos from the AGM at which the report was presented are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53393845666/in/dateposted/ and the entry beside that.

ICCL on toxic algorithms

On 18th December the European Commission launched formal proceedings against Twitter / X for suspected infringements of the EU Digital Services Act. It will now investigate whether the Blue Tick deceives users, whether content that breaks the law is spread by the platform, and whether the platform is unlawfully non-transparent. Welcoming this development, ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties has said the European Commission should learn from the example of Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new broadcasting and online regulator. ICCL has sent the European Commission a report urging it to follow Coimisiún na Meán’s example and switch off Big Tech’s toxic algorithms across the European Union. ICCL went on to say “Algorithmic “recommender systems” select emotive and extreme content and show it to people who the system estimates are most likely to be outraged. These outraged people then spend longer on the platform, which allows the company to make more money showing them ads. These systems are acutely dangerous. Just one hour after Amnesty’s researchers started a TikTok account posing as a 13-year-old child who views mental health content, TikTok’s algorithm started to show the child videos glamourising suicide.” https://www.iccl.ie/2023/the-european-commission-must-follow-irelands-lead-and-switch-off-big-techs-toxic-algorithms/

Amnesty welcomes Irish government action on NI Troubles Act

Amnesty International has been among the many many bodies to comment on the Irish government’s move on the Northern Ireland Troubles (Reconciliation and Legacy) Act 2023, referring the matter to the European Court of Human Rights; most comments in Ireland, North and South, were favourable to this. Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, said: “The Irish Government is doing the right thing for victims, for the rule of law and for the upholding of human rights. Victims’ rights to truth, reparations and justice must be realised. This challenge is vital for victims here and around the world, who face the prospect of similar state-gifted impunity. The UK Government doggedly pursued this legislation which shields perpetrators of serious human rights violations from being held accountable. It’s important that the Irish Government takes this stand. This State-level challenge is very welcome and made necessary by the UK government’s actions. Victims should be at the heart of how the ‘Troubles’ is addressed, not swept to the side with denial of rights imposed. We hope this critical litigation will bring all Troubles victims closer to the justice they deserve.” https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/Northern-Ireland

Tools for Solidarity: Tanzanian developments

Tools for Solidarity (TFS) 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. The focus of the newly established centre is to supply tools, sewing machines and machinery to artisans, providing also technical and sewing training and back up service supports. 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/

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.

Feasta: Unprecedented demand for its research and advocacy

Feasta reports growing active interest in relation to its goals. They say that “Global and transnational calls for economic system change ‘beyond growth’ are becoming far more widespread, with prominent international NGOs such as Oxfam, Friends of the Earth International, Caritas and Greenpeace taking up the cause. A major cross-party conference on the theme was held at the European Parliament in May and was packed with enthusiastic young people. There is significant new EU funding for post-growth research now, and the UN’s Secretary-General has joined the chorus of those calling for new measurements of economic progress” and that “Feasta’s research and advocacy on economic system change is in unprecedented demand.” Learn more about Feasta’s work and approach at https://www.feasta.org/

News, December 2023

Triple lock removal: No surprise but underhand

Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Defence, Micheál Martin announced in the Dáil on 22nd November his intention to remove the ‘triple lock’ (one strand of which includes the go ahead of the UN Security Council) on the deployment of (more than a dozen) Irish troops overseas on ‘active service’. https://www.thejournal.ie/triple-lock-changes-micheal-martin-6229725-Nov2023/ He said that this was the first opportunity he had had to speak to the Dáil in detail on the issue since the ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ in June. What Martin did not say was that he had long been gunning (sic) to remove it, had chosen the Forum format and the speakers there to get the answer he wanted, and, as Catherine Connolly TD stated in response, had depicted the Forum as the start of a conversation on neutrality but he had now ended it. Martin proposes alternative ratification which would be meaningless, such as EU approval – which could be the EU approving Irish involvement in the actions of an EU army!

What was also not covered is that the discussion on the triple lock at the Forum was wholly inadequate and inconclusive – see the StoP report available at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/ and in particular page 23 plus. The thoroughness of this StoP report can also be contrasted with the flimsiness of the official report by the chair of the Forum, available at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/36bd1-consultative-forum-chairs-report/

ICCL launches Enforce unit re human rights on tech

In mid-November ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties launched a new unit, Enforce, to investigate, advocate, and litigate to protect human rights globally in relation to technology, industry practice, and markets. Liam Herrick, Executive Director of ICCL, said “…Ireland’s unique position in the international digital realm means we’re uniquely positioned to undertake this work”. It is an area where ICCL has been working for some time; they are currently litigating in Germany, Belgium, Ireland, and Luxembourg. They state “We will push technology back towards democratic value. Our mission to protect human rights also helps protect journalistic media, enact smart law, and curb online hate and hysteria.” https://www.iccl.ie/enforce/

MNI courses….and work with private sector

Upcoming courses over the next number of months organised by Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) can be found on their website at https://mediationni.org/training/#upcoming including a one day course on Dealing with difficult conversations, a three day programme on Immersive conflict resolution practice, a one day Workplace conflict resolution skills course, and an 8-day Mediation theory and practice course in April and May 2024. Meanwhile MNI has gained major Lottery funding which will enable it offer new training programmes and wrap around services for businesses and statutory organisations across Northern Ireland to get better at dealing with conflict – they quote that “Recent research from the Labour Relations Agency found that workplace conflicts cost the Northern Irish economy over £850 million every year.” https://mediationni.org/lottery-grant/

CAJ: NI Troubles Act, counterterrorism and human rights

CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice have issued a compendium of submissions and critiques it made regarding the controversial Northern Ireland Troubles (Reconciliation and Legacy) Act 2023 which became law in September 2023, despite criticism both from within Northern Ireland and internationally. This detailed and authoritative 146 page compendium is available at https://caj.org.uk/publications/reports/compendium-of-caj-legacy-bill-submissions/

l The annual CAJ lecture has Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin speaking at 3.30pm on Tuesday 12th December in central Belfast on ‘Reflections from the UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights 2017-2023’; see https://caj.org.uk/latest/caj-annual-lecture-2023-featuring-professor-fionnuala-ni-aolain/

Pax Christi Peace Award to Parents Circle – Families Forum

The 2023 Pax Christi International Peace Award is going to the Parents Circle – Families Forum which is a collaborative Israeli-Palestinian organisation comprising more than 700 families, all of whom have lost a close family member due to the continuing conflict; the PCFF firmly believes that the process of reconciliation between the two nations is an essential precondition for attaining a lasting peace. https://paxchristi.net/2023/11/08/the-parents-circle-families-forum-receives-2023-pax-christi-international-peace-award/ and https://www.theparentscircle.org/en/pcff-home-page-en/

Corrymeela: Shine a light for peace

Corrymeela has a ‘Shine a Light for peace’ Christmas fundraising campaign with a variety of options to support their work including individual donations, doing it collectively with named tags for donors, or organising an event. Further info at https://www.corrymeela.org/donate/shine-a-light-for-peace

Mairead Maguire on ending current wars & Ed Horgan interview

A November podcast of Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire in discussion with David Swanson of World Beyond War on ending current wars – running time 29 mins – can be found at https://davidswanson.org/talk-world-radio-mairead-maguire-on-ending-the-current-wars/ An interview with Ed Horgan, in the same slot, on Why Genocide/War Continues is at https://worldbeyondwar.org/talk-world-radio-ed-horgan-on-why-genocide-war-continues/

Chernobyl Children Int’l: Support needed, archives to UCC

Chernobyl Children International need support for their ongoing work. CCI has been working within the Chernobyl Region (Ukraine and Belarus) for over 36 years and are striving to get humanitarian aid, which includes food, water, and medicines, to children and their families who are in desperate need, as well as performing life-saving operations for children with ‘Chernobyl heart’ and helping provide supported living.

See https://www.chernobyl-international.com/

l Meanwhile the CCI archives, founded 1991, and those of its founder Adi Roche – including previous peace work as a CND activist – have been deposited at UCC.

Housmans Peace Diary 2024 with World Peace Directory

Paper diaries are not as ubiquitous as they once were but for the peace/social justice/environmental activist a Housmans Peace Diary is an important resource at your fingertips for building a peaceful world. 2024 sees the 71st edition of the diary, with a feature on 50 years of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, a significant organisation in the British peace movement – and internationally – plus a listing of over 1400 national and international peace, environmental and human rights organisations. The format is two pages to a week with anniversaries noted, quotes, a forward planner etc. Order online from www.housmans.com/peace-diary/ It is priced at UK£9.95, with a £2 discount per copy for 10 or more in the UK; postage is £2 flat rate in UK postal area or £6 outside it, irrespective of the number of copies ordered. Housmans, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, ph +44 20 7837 4473.

A more extensive version of the World Peace Directory in the Diary is available online at http://www.housmans.info/wpd/ It is worth reading the background information on the web in the site home page to get the best use out of it. And as their blurb says “It’s the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of its kind” – don’t be caught out without a contact when heading to Ulaanbaatar……

Everyday Peacebuilding

Everyday Peacebuilding https://everydaypeacebuilding.com/ is a very useful website where you can see a growing compilation of resources on peacebuilding. Taylor O’Connor wanted to build a global community of peacebuilders who could share learnings and resources and support each other. The idea was to connect and share creative ways to build peace and justice and taking care of peacebuilders’ wellbeing too. People can sign up and each week they will receive in their inbox a selection of resources on building peace from around the world.

These are the values at the base of Everyday Peacebuilding: “Simplicity. Content and products will be user friendly and accessible. Creativity. Content and products present creative approaches to peacebuilding.

Exploration. Content and products support community members on their personal peacebuilding journeys.

Diversity. Representing the ideas and perspectives of diverse peacebuilders from around the world is important in our content and products. Our community is intentionally global. Collaboration. We’re building a global community of peacebuilders and in doing so create spaces for community members to connect, share ideas, take collaborative action and support one another.”

Resources go from definitions of violence and peacebuilding to analysis tools for conflict transformation, from quotes for peace to blog pieces that tackle current global issues under the peacebuilding lens. In the newsletter the topics usually vary, there is a diversity of topics (gender, education, anti militarisation, art and peacebuilding…) and links to articles or resources from different places around the world. There are private facebook chats as well on the different topics, for people to communicate, share ideas, links and events worldwide. It is very accessible and inviting for people who are new to peacebuilding but also for who want to know more and get connected.

Our mission as active nonviolence”

A useful and perceptive short statement on nonviolence, made in late October, by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, can be found in different places including https://paxchristi.net/2023/10/26/cardinal-bo-our-mission-as-active-nonviolence/

Crimes Against Lough Neagh

Friends of the Earth NI has a few tickets left for this panel discussion from 1-5pm, on Friday 15th December 2023, at the MAC in Belfast, with Bernadette McAliskey, Prof Mark Emerson, Bróna MacNeill, Sam McBride, Shauna Corr and Tommy Greene, and chaired by John Manley. It will include breakout sessions where people will be invited to share their ideas on a recovery plan for the Lough. Book at https://friendsoftheearth.uk/about/events-northern-ireland

FOE on COP28, and opportunity for Christmas support

Friends of the Earth in the Republic has been busy campaigning on COP28 and are involved in the Christmas gift card market whereby for each €20 you donate “for the protection of our planet and all its inhabitants” they will post you a specially designed gift card that you can give to your friend – this will include your friend’s name, the amount donated in their name and your name. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/

Eco Congregation newsletter now monthly

Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI), the Christian church green network, is now issuing its newsletter monthly; you can sign up to receive it at info@ecocongregationireland.com ECI recently welcomed Anna Byrne as the new Catholic representative. https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/

Billy King: Rites Again, 315

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts –

Gender equality, how are ye

It caught my eye on the BBC NI website on 27/11/23: three stories in a row about the treatment of women and girls. Under the heading of ‘Latest updates’ were three stories in a row, “Childminder’s husband jailed for abusing children”, “Upskirting and cyber-flashing laws come into effect”, and “Medic admits sterilising woman without her consent”.

The first story was about a former senior civil servant from Co Down who sexually abused two young girls (age unspecified) in his wife’s childminding care. The second story might be considered ‘good news’ in that new laws came in to effect on upskirting, downblousing and cyber-flashing with perpetrators potentially facing up to two years in prison and up to 10 years on the Sex Offenders Register. But the question underlying this is – why was this new law necessary? The NI Assembly (remember it?) had backed this law in spring of 2022 before the Assembly disappeared in a puff of smoke, with the bill, now law, being introduced by Naomi Long. And the final story was about a male consultant gynaecologist in a regional hospital in the North who admitted sterilising a woman without her permission and without medical need.

These are three stories covering different aspects of the treatment of women and girls in our society, all concerning aspects of what I would consider violence against them. These things happened to happen in the North but could be anywhere. You could come up with many other examples from different aspects of life and society. It doesn’t look very much like equality for women and girls, does it.

Bill Hetherington

The death of long time British peace activist Bill Hetherington removes another of the ‘old’ faces from the peace movement there. He was 89 years old. While associated most with the PPU/Peace Pledge Union (where, incredibly, he was on their Council for fifty years) it is hard to think of a substantial peace initiative in past decades, in Britain or internationally, that he was not involved with. He was well informed on, and involved with, Northern Irish and Irish matters and, if I recall correctly, had some Irish blood in him. He was involved with the BWNIC campaign to withdraw British troops from the North and subsequently was on trial in 1975 for his involvement in that (and was imprisoned for a while, accused of breaking bail conditions) – were the BWNIC 14 encouraging British soldiers to disaffect? Maybe they were but fortunately were found not guilty.

An appreciation of his life as a peace activist can be found at https://www.ppu.org.uk/news/peace-movement-mourns-lifelong-pacifist-campaigner-bill-hetherington and there is a great photo of him there, looking a bit like an old seafarer – and he certainly had to negotiate lots of choppy waters in his time.

The INNATE coordinator remembers fondly the socio-political walking tour of Dublin that he (Rob Fairmichael) conducted for a group from the 2002 WRI/War Resisters’ International Triennial conference. This ran, or rather perambulated, from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dáil; he would give a short take on the relevance of the building, memorial or topography involved….and then Bill would, as was his wont, extend it “with the due parts of legal and constitutional history in detail” as the Triennial newsletter related. There is a photo of just such a scene at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/3269226483/in/album-72157613605954884/ Small of stature, Bill Hetherington was a big presence. For me he was one of those people who I didn’t have much contact with on an ongoing basis but knew were contributing hugely to work for peace I definitely feel sad that he is no longer around.

Shannon ‘not being used’ – but Varadkar is…..

Ah yes, the main supplier of lethal equipment and just as lethal money to Israel is of course the good oul USA. It was kind of Leo Varadkar to tell us https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2023/11/19/shannon-airport-not-being-used-by-us-to-supply-military-equipment-to-israel-varadkar/ that Shannon Air/Warport is not being used by the USA to move military supplies to Israel. He has the USA’s word on that.

But since the Irish state never inspects what is coming through on US military or military-contracted planes he really doesn’t have a clue. And while the US army has no boots on the ground directly fighting in Gaza – I am sure there are lots of military advisors somewhere – he might think that is OK. But any support to a military aggressor or supporter of aggression is plain and simply wrong. And despite the atrocities committed by Hamas in southern Israel on 7th October I think we can be quite clear that Israel is an aggressor in its assault on civilians in Gaza. And, in general (and for generals), armies need soldiers so transporting soldiers through Shannon is every bit as nefarious as transporting weapons.

The Irish state is complicit in supporting US military aggression. [full stop]

EU Bottlegroups

Useful little piece by Conor Gallagher in the Irish Times of 16th November https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2023/11/16/ireland-faces-embarrassment-as-just-35-troops-volunteer-for-eu-battlegroup/ and follow up on 23/11/23. The first story was that “Ireland faces embarrassment as just 35 troops volunteer for EU Battlegroup”, less than a fifth of those needed from Ireland for a German-led ‘rapid response’ battlegroup being formed in January. It would be good to think that this was Irish soldiers voting with their feet not to get involved. The Irish Times reported that “It will act in support of UN-authorised missions and will also be deployed to aid humanitarian crises and support existing peacekeeping missions that face heightened difficulties” but given the plan to remove the Triple Lock on deployment of Irish troops overseas, and developing EU militarism, it is a further move towards Irish military integration with other military powers.

However this article and the follow up indicated that reluctance to sign up may be mainly due to uncertainty about additional financial allowances for being part of the battlegroup (interesting term that, they don’t even use a euphemism – which they are so good at – such as ‘peacekeeping group’). It is expected that the government will introduce financial incentives to get the 182 soldiers they need (however, it being an army, if needed soldiers could be ‘volunteered’). However amazingly Ireland already withdrew from participation in military peacekeeping in the UNDOF operation in the Golan Heights to get involved in this battlegroup which will be training for most of the next year and on standby for 2025.

Starmint

Is it a new mint flavoured confectionery in rounded star shape? Or a rather unpleasant tasting confection currently out of production? The varmints in Starmint, the House on the Hill, are still not meeting thanks to a DUPlicitous party. Please note I am not saying other political parties are not or cannot be duplicitous, it is just as clear as day that the DUP turned what they saw as electoral survival into a principle. And there are principles involved for unionists who have been sold down the river, again, by a British government intent on its own nationalist project and their desire for survival.

But unionists are not the only people in Northern Ireland, or indeed in the United Kingdom to which they have allegiance. And while they stick to their principles the whole of Norn Iron is going down the tubes in relation to most things – including health and social services, poverty, community groups and the services they provide, and education (how can anyone hope to pull out of such a downward spiral when education funding is cut so badly?). The economy is just ticking over with remarkably low unemployment but also lots and lots of low pay. And Chris H-H as Shockretary of State compounds the problem by using, and adding to, the suffering of ordinary people as a weapon to try to get the DUP back in residence in the House on the Hill. I was thus wondering whether Chris Heaton-Harris deserves the title of (Vindictive to a) Tee-Shock. Meanwhile Troubles victims have been terribly short-changed again.

What a mess. While the new year was being signed up in the last while as a possible point for a return departure, the stars do not seem to be aligned [is Sammy a star?] for, or rather within, the DUP who may struggle on with an assembly boycott while the North falls apart at the seems (sic). Perhaps political bravery could win out but I suspect what is in store is that is not mint to be in NOrthern Ireland. I hope I am wrong, I would be delighted to be proven thus.

Waking up

It’s official, sort of. The Irish – and in Ireland generally culturally Catholic – way of death is superior, certainly compared with another western European island. It is something many of us have known for a long time, and Kevin Toolis’ book “My father’s wake” is on the topic, but research has now proven it (usual caveats…) that active social engagement and collective remembering after the death of a loved one can help you. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-67462985 “The Ulster University study, which involved more than 2,000 people, looked at prolonged grief disorder (PGD). It described the disorder as an enduring yearning for the deceased persisting for more than six months. About 10.9% of grieving people in Ireland featured in the research fulfilled the disorder’s criteria, compared to 15.3% in the UK. The study does go on to say “cultural differences with regard to death may be an explanatory factor” in relation to waking and so on.

So not only is the West a-wake but much of the rest of the island too. You may not be able to wish ‘slainte’ to the deceased but being able to do it to and with their kin, even with a cup of tea, can assist in coming to terms with the death. There is no simple answer or time limit to, or remedy for, grief when you lose your nearest and dearest. But waking can help and waking up to that fact is important so it is never lost.

Recently we have come on for a cold spell (blame the witch/wizard/warlock though I thought the last of these was Micheál Martin’s alternative to the Triple Lock….) but I have bright red salvia still in full bloom in the gordon, however the current cold may knock them on the head – being in a city and only a few k’s from the sea we escape some frosts manifested elsewhere.

But Christmas and New Year festivities and break are coming up fast and so I wish you an enjoyable and restful time (when you get there!) and, as always, a Preposterous New Year – the new year will be well established when I join you again. One piece of good cheer is that a song about Norn Iron trade union and peace activist May Blood is to be released just before Christmas https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/music/news/song-about-work-of-ni-peacemaker-for-christmas-release-a-lot-of-people-dont-really-know-who-she-is/a2133175073.html

Let’s hope, and work that, 2024 is more peaceful than the current year – Billy.

News, November 2023

Freedom to Choose? StoP report on International Security Forum

The report from StoP, Swords to Plougshares Ireland, on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) ‘Consultative Forum on International Security Policy’ was published the day after the official report from the Forum chair, Dame Louise Richardson. The StoP report, entitled “Freedom to Choose?”, is at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/report (and other websites) while the official report is at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/36bd1-consultative-forum-chairs-report/ The individual submissions made by civil society will be published by DFA in due course. The official report is 27 pages including appendices but under 16 pages of actual report; the StoP report is around 50 pages.

Louise Richardson’s report is analysed in an editorial in the email and web editions of this issue. The StoP report has a preamble which sets the scene regarding Irish neutrality and security before four different authors carefully scrutinise each day of the Forum proceedings. It also includes coverage of one of the “People’s Forum” meetings, in Galway, and the full text of Lelia Doolan’s unscheduled intervention in the official Galway Forum. There are four pages of conclusions and recommendations.

StoP’s conclusions include: The Forum was biased in intent, design and implementation and therefore valid conclusions cannot be drawn from it: Discussion of the ‘triple lock’ on deployment of Irish troops overseas was wholly inadequate and does not in any way justify change in this area: It was not an open ‘Forum’ as in the dictionary definition and common understanding since the speakers were only those chosen by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Department: The format of the Forum was inadequate to deal with the issues properly: Various topics were systemically avoided including the use of Shannon Airport by the military of the USA: The Department of Foreign Affairs proclaims its commitment to disarmament but it promotes Irish involvement in the arms trade and lauds its contribution to nuclear disarmament but is now openly involved with NATO, a nuclear armed alliance committed to first use of nuclear weapons.

Palestine/Neutrality/Ukraine demo, Dublin, 4th November

2pm on Saturday 4th November sees a big Dublin demonstration, starting at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square with the themes “Stop Israel’s assault on Gaza / Defend Ireland’s neutrality / Stop the war in Ukraine”. A variety of organisations are backing it, including Irish Neutrality League, Irish Anti-War Movement, World Beyond War, Shannonwatch, Peace People, FEIC, Cork Neutrality League, Veterans for Peace, Independent Workers Union, TCD SU. See various including https://irishantiwar.org/ https://neutrality.ie/ http://www.shannonwatch.org/ https://www.facebook.com/CorkLeague/

MII: Awards at annual conference, Mediatators in midst of war

The annual conference of the Mediators’ Institute Ireland (MII) took place in early October in Cork. One highlight of this was the presentation to Catherine O’Connell of a Generosity of Spirit Award and to Geoffrey Corry of a Lifetime Achievement in Mediation Award; for video see https://www.themii.ie/mii-award-winners Geoffrey Corry’s account of some of the early story of mediation, “The story of Dublin City Mediation (DCM) after 25 years” can be seen at https://tinyurl.com/2a4nnu7v (and accompanying entries). Another feature of the conference was an Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Naoimh McNamee, CEO and Mediator with Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, discussing 25 insights that have helped or hindered peace in Ireland. Keynote speakers were Hon. Ms. Justice Siobhán Lankford on the judicial system and mediation, and Prof Noam Ebner on ‘Mediation, Artificial Intelligence, and Change’. https://www.themii.ie/

lAn online seminar on ‘Connecting mediators in the midst of war’ takes place on Monday 6th November at 5.30pm with speakers Ken Cloke, Mediator Vikram and Mohammad Hadieh as they share their thoughts and insights on unfolding events in Palestine and Israel. They will also discuss the role of the mediator and the world mediation circle in fostering understanding. Participation is free, register at clr.ie/135140 and a Zoom link will be sent.

Nurturing hope – and a learning journey

Nurturing Hope’ is an extensive five–book learning resource, written by Derick Wilson, Duncan Morrow, J. Jean Horstman and Dong Jin Kim, being published by the Corrymeela Press. It will be available shortly as an open source resource. The five individual titles in the ‘Nurturing hope’ series are Background fundamentals, A facilitator’s guide, Understanding relationships, Some dynamics of conflict-affected cultures and societies, and Some dynamics for hope. Please email shonabell@corrymeela.org to order a copy of the Nurturing Hope resource.

There will be a related extensive ‘Learning Journey’ 5-day residential programme running each summer 2024 – 2027 involving Corrymeela, Mediation Northern Ireland, TIDES and the Understanding Conflict Trust. The ‘Learning Journey’ is for those seeking to create spaces through which people who are divided can “experience the intimacy of our honest differences”. It draws on Corrymeela members’ decades of experience and was developed with learning partners in South Korea and the USA. This is a detailed and in depth programme with some details available at https://www.corrymeela.org/programmes/nurturing-hope/summer-learning-journey

Glencree Centre for Reconciliation

A detailed annual report on Glencree’s work, entitled ‘Peacebuilding for the next generation’, can be found at https://glencree.ie/homepage-highlight/annual-report-2022 including detailed accounts of the various different programmes (though if you want the financial report you will need to download it). Meanwhile a relatively new staff member is Dorothée Potter-Daniau who has the newly created position of Measurement, Evaluation, Research & Learning (MERL) Manager. Glencree CEO Naoimh McNamee said: “Dorothée’s appointment to the new role of MERL Manager comes at a very exciting time in Glencree’s development. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the founding of the organisation next year, we are focused on realising the goals of our 5 Year Strategic Plan which includes establishing Glencree as a national and international Centre for Practical Peace Education and Learning Exchanges.” https://glencree.ie/

Corrymeela: Dialogue for Peaceful Change training

Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC) is a global training programme developed by practitioners working in national and international conflict settings around the world. The DPC methodology offers a practical toolkit and methodology for managing key aspects of both interpersonal and group conflict. There will be a training running at Corrymeela from 18 – 22 March 2024, cost TBC. More details and contact info at https://www.corrymeela.org/events/237/dialogue-for-peaceful-change-training

PANA on ambassadors, supporting Shannon protest

PANA/Peace And Neutrality Alliance has issued a press release about the importance of ambassadors at a time when some call for, e.g., the Israeli ambassador to be expelled. Edward Horgan, International Secretary of PANA said “Expelling ambassadors in time of war is a serious mistake. While we may not like the ambassadors in question and we may not like or agree with the actions of their governments, it is vital to keep diplomatic lines of communications open at such critically important times” and “Neutral countries especially should be playing an important role in promoting an end to those conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, the Sahel region in Africa, and elsewhere.” https://www.pana.ie/

Meanwhile the next Shannonwatch/Uplift/PANA rally at Shannon Airport against US military use is on Sunday 12th November at 2pm; subsidised bus from Dublin, contact info@pana.ie You can also help fund Dan Dowling’s Shannon nonviolent action fine https://www.gofundme.com/f/ShannonAirport

FOE Act Local campaign

Friends of the Earth has begun an Act Local campaign to assist local activists by focusing on two important issues or campaigning topics, Space for Nature and Connected Communities. There are how-to guides and briefings. See https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/act-local/

CAJ: Impunity video, jobs

The important recent seminar, ‘Impunity and the NI legacy bill – 50 years on from the Pinochet coup’, is now available to view online; this was hosted at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), and was organised with CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), and the International Expert Panel on Impunity and the Northern Ireland Conflict. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/event-video-impunity-and-the-ni-legacy-bill-50-years-on-from-the-pinochet-coup/

l Meanwhile CAJ are recruiting a Senior Research and Policy Officer and a Project Research & Campaign Worker for the Migrant Justice Project, deadlines late November. See https://caj.org.uk/latest/caj-is-recruiting/

ICCL: GDPR, Garda, hiring

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has expressed concern at internal investigation into alleged Garda human rights violations in the Lynskey and Kerrigan case, stating that an independent investigation into the role of An Garda Síochána is required. ICCL has also prepared amendments to the European Commission’s proposal for procedural harmonisation on cross-border GDPR enforcement, identifying four primary flaws in the Proposal. Meanwhile they are hiring a new Membership and Development Officer, deadline 20th November. https://www.iccl.ie/

Eco-Congregation: News, Leinster gathering

As always, the newsletter of Eco-Congregation Ireland, the church green network, has a round up of news, island wide. They also have an upcoming online meeting for anyone interested or potentially interested in Leinster, 10-11am on Saturday 11th November; contact info@ecocongregationireland.com to attend. https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/

Church and Peace: Overcoming racism in the church

A short report on the Church and Peace European conference on this topic is available at https://www.church-and-peace.org/en/2023/10/racism-and-the-church-a-needed-debate/ and there is more news and resources on the same website. Church and Peace is an ecumenical church peace network.

Palestine-Israel peacebuilding job

An international peaceworker is being hired by KURVE Wustrow & New Profile to be based in the Jerusalem/Bethlehem area in Israel/Palestine, working on a variety of issues including planning and implementation of a Civil Peace Service project focussing on objectors to military service. The deadline for applications is 12th November. Details at https://pzkb.de/stellenanzeigen/international-peace-worker-m-f-d-in-jerusalem-bethlehem-area-in-israel-palestine/

News, October 2023

Peace Heroines exhibition continues touring

The exhibition on women heroines of peace in Northern Ireland which has now been circulating for a considerable time – launched at Stormont on International Day of Peace, September 2022 – is well worth seeing; it consists of 28 panels. It was created by Herstory https://www.herstory.ie/peace-heroine-stories and forthcoming venues can be found at https://www.herstory.ie/new-page A showing at 2 Royal Avenue, Belfast ends on 6th October; subsequent venues through to autumn 2024 include Down County Museum, North Down Museum and Ards Arts Centre, Iontas Centre in Monaghan, Strule Arts Centre in Omagh, Coleraine Museum, New Shankill Women’s Centre in Belfast, and Donegal County Museum.

Conversation on Gospel Nonviolence

Pax Christi Ireland and the Loyola Institute (Trinity College Dublin) are hosting a ‘Conversation’ to deepen Catholic understanding of and commitment to Gospel nonviolence. Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) was initiated at the Vatican in 2016. https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/ The main speakers are Marie Dennis and Pat Gaffney, CNI, followed by a panel on the practice of nonviolence with representatives of EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel), Spirasi (The National Centre for Survivors of Torture in Ireland) and INNATE. It takes place in the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin on Saturday 14th October from 10.30am – 2pm. Registration from 10am. Booking via Eventbrite

Lough Neagh’s a-wake

Lough Neagh should be a jewel in Ireland/Northern Ireland’s crown – instead it is a cesspool along with much of the north’s other waterways. While some of the causes are complex or multi-layered, the lack of action has been shocking – it has been an issue that green groups such as FOE-NI have been campaigning on for years. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/nature/lough-neagh-why-europes-wildlife-jewel-needs-space-breathe Now, however, it has at last reached public consciousness, including through a wake for the lough at Ballyronan on 17th September. See Larry Speight’s EcoAwareness column in the email and web editions

Could rights based-safeguards make Stormont functional?

Friday 13th October from 2 – 5 pm sees a seminar in Belfast exploring whether it is possible to unlock sustainable governance through reforming the present structures of the NI Assembly and Executive in line with the rights-based safeguards intended under the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement. It is organised by the Equality Coalition and Transitional Justice Institute, supported by the LSE Gender, Justice and Security Hub. There are well known contributors and two panels, one on Vetoes or safeguards? An exploration of mechanisms, and the second on Women’s rights and social transformation. As well as in-person attendance the event will be livestreamed. Details and booking at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/could-rights-based-safeguards-make-stormont-functional-tickets-711233517597

White Poppies: Remembering and committing

As the ‘remembrance season’ of November approaches there is the opportunity to wear a white poppy as a symbol of remembrance for all those who have died in war (not just soldiers and not just British forces as with the red poppy) and show a commitment for peace and against war. The Peace Pledge Union in Britain have white poppies for sale in small packs or larger display boxes, along wth posters, postcards stickers etc. See www.ppu.org.uk where the biodegradeable poppies are UK£5 for 5, £20 for 25, or £68 for 100, plus postage. Email mail@ppu.org.uk

Police Surveillance North and South

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) have a joint conference looking at the issues of surveillance and oversight in policing in the North and South. It take place from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday 24th October at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin. Speakers include: Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney , Baroness Nuala O’Loan, David Kaye, Professor Marie Breen-Smyth, Dr Abeba Birhane, Jonathan Hall KC, Alyson Kilpatrick BL, Dr Daragh Murray, and John Wadham. The keynote plenary will discuss the human impact of covert surveillance and the lack of international legal regulation on the matter; panel discussions will cover facial recognition technology (FRT), covert surveillance, and policing oversight bodies as a means of accountability. Register at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/police-surveillance-north-and-south-tickets-714670658177 for your free ticket with further details there. https://www.iccl.ie/ and https://caj.org.uk/

FOE impact report, jobs

Friends of the Earth Ireland has issued its annual impact report for the last year which includes its goals and work realised – Learning Hub events, campaigning including on Warm Homes for All, the work of Young Friends of the Earth among much else. Over 950 submissions were made to consultations in the year. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w82a1FT5o88 and https://friendsoftheearth.cmail20.com/t/t-l-vxitly-jrktjjkhkl-j/ Meanwhile the closing date for applications for the posts of Communications Content Officer and Fossil Free Ireland Campaigner is 8th October, see https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/news/job-alerts-were-recruiting-a-communications-content-officer/ By the end of 2023 the staff numbers will have tripled from 2019.

Call for independent inquiry into case of Sallins Men

Four leading human rights organisations – the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ), the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) and Fair Trials delivered a petition on 19th September to the Irish Government asking the Minister for Justice to establish an inquiry into the abuse suffered by Osgur Breatnach, Michael Barrett, John Fitzpatrick, Nicky Kelly, Brian McNally, and Michael Plunkett (deceased). The lives of these six men, known as ‘the Sallins Men’, were changed irrevocably when they were arrested, detained, charged, convicted and imprisoned following the Sallins Train Robbery in 1976. The statement from the organisation concerned states “Their case remains one of the most significant miscarriages of justice in modern Irish history. The abuse they suffered – and the continuing suffering they endure – is a violation of their human rights. To date, there has been no effective investigation into their case.” The petition asks for a human rights compliant investigation, conducted in accordance with the standards required following a breach and violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 3 is the absolute prohibition on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. https://www.iccl.ie/ https://caj.org.uk/ https://www.patfinucanecentre.org/ https://www.fairtrials.org/

Sunny Jacobs appeal

After her release from a US prison in 1992 where she spent 17 years for a crime she didn’t commit, Sunny Jacobs became a yoga teacher and a campaigner. For over thirty years, she has been a leading international voice for forgiveness, redemption, justice, and reform, calling for an end to the death penalty, and support for people who have been wrongfully convicted. She moved to Ireland after meeting Peter, and the two of them established the Sunny Healing Center in rural Connemara, where they have offered a space for healing and respite to dozens of individuals who have faced miscarriages of justice. They also spent years travelling the world speaking in schools, universities, at conferences and in the media, calling for reform…..” After recently losing her beloved husband, Peter, who provided a vital caring role for her, friends are appealing for financial assistance to help meet her needs. More information and links on the Gofundme page https://www.gofundme.com/f/send-some-love-and-solidarity-to-sunny-jacobs

European peace activists under threat

It can be a difficult and even dangerous task being a peace activist, especially in a time of war. Yurii Sheliazhenko, a well-known conscientious objector, pacifist, human rights defender and the Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, was placed under house arrest in mid-August, supposedly for justifying Russian aggression – despite having specifically condemned it! Letters of solidarity can be sent using a template at https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2023/ukraine-release-yurii-sheliazhenko and World Beyond War has also delivered a petition on his behalf https://worldbeyondwar.org/petition-to-be-delivered-to-ukrainian-embassy-in-washington-d-c-on-monday/ At a court sitting in mid-September, the prosecution has not yet proceeded, perhaps due to international attention.

Meanwhile also well known Olga Karatch, a Belarussian activist now in Lithuania, director of ‘Our House’, was denied political asylum in August but given a one-year temporary residency. But this is no safety for a prominent peace and human rights activist who would face immediate imprisonment if returned to Belarus. See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2023/international-campaign-protection-and-asylum-human-rights-defender-olga-karatch for more info and links to sending solidarity letters.

Both Olga and Yurii are very impressive activists who deserve any support they can be given…

l Meanwhile there is a campaign for the protection and asylum for all from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine who refuse military service and a call for actions from December 4, 2023 to the International “Human Rights Day” on December 10, 2023. See https://wri-irg.org/en/story/2023/take-action-objectwarcampaign-4th-10th-december-2023

ICCL on Garda bodycams

The Irish Council fo Civil Liberties has cautiously welcomed the announcement from An Garda Síochána that they will pilot the introduction of bodyworn cameras before moving to a national roll-out. See https://www.iccl.ie/press-release/bodyworn-cameras-pilot-must-ensure-fundamental-rights-are-protected-iccl/ for details

ForcesWatch on Legacy Act and Troubles podcasts

ForcesWatch is a UK organisation dedicated to investigating militarisation, military ethics and human rights concerns. It has produced coverage of the Legacy Act https://www.forceswatch.net/comment/erasing-accountability-in-the-troubles/ and a mini-series of three podcasts about Northern Ireland; these have interviews with Lee Lavis, Fiona Gallagher, and Ian Cobain https://open.spotify.com/show/6bdLyHplM6s1tfwV8u5LA6

News, September 2023

Tangled web of lies from Irish governments

For decades the government of the day has always sought to assure citizens that Irish neutrality, prized by said citizenry, is safe, despite doing everything they could to undermine it. Training in demining for the Ukrainian army was non-lethal, they said, rather dubiously. However assurances that support to Ukraine was solely non-lethal have fallen apart with the revelation that support being offered includes military tactics and training in shooting and marksmanship. The Irish Neutrality League stated that if this proceeds “it will represent an unprecedented contravention of Ireland’s already seriously compromised neutrality.” https://neutrality.ie Questions have also arisen about what the limited number of Irish soldiers got up to in Afghanistan. With the report from Louise Richardson on the June ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ due in the near future there are likely to be further assaults on neutrality such as the ‘triple lock’ on deployment of Irish troops overseas. However one picket on the Department of Foreign Affairs has already taken place and further actions will follow. See also editorial in this issue

Advancing Nonviolence: Pax Christi Ireland

On Saturday 14th October, 10.30am – 2.00pm (registration 10am) 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) which is a project of Pax Christi International. The main speakers are Pat Gaffney and Marie Dennis (the latter remotely) along with a panel on different aspects of nonviolence. The venue is the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, and booking details will be available in the October issue. Contact: Tony D’Costa, Pax Christi Ireland, email: tdc1@paxchristi.ie The CNI website is at https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/

Frederick Douglass statue goes up in Belfast

A recent positive memorialisation is the erection of a statue of US former slave, antislavery activist, social reformer and pro-feminist Frederick Douglass in Lombard Street in Belfast – the first in Ireland (though there are plaques to him in Cork and Waterford). Douglass spent quite some time in Ireland and was very appreciative of the welcome and support he received. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-66358247 Perhaps next on the list can be a statue of Belfast anti-slavery activist and humanitarian Mary Ann McCracken…..

QUB+ study of Troubles trauma services

Undertaken by Queen’s University Belfast in association with others, the study “Conflict, Trauma and Mental Health – How Psychological Services in Northern Ireland Address the Needs of Victims and Survivors” was produced for the Commission for Victims and Survivors. It makes a number of detailed comments and recommendations on addressing unmet needs, and the authors state “In treating victims’ needs as societal needs, we build on a solid foundation towards a future that offers peace, prosperity and growth for all who live here.” https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/publications/conflict-trauma-and-mental-health-how-psychological-services-in-n but you may have to go through hoops to get the full report. See also https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/08/07/troubles-linked-trauma-in-north-untreated-for-decades-report-finds/

Report urges increased Northern arms trade

A report from the British Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) advocates increased Northern Ireland involvement in UK arms production, particularly highlighting the ‘big three’ of Thales, Harland and Wolff and Spirit AeroSystems but also looking at cybersecurity. See https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/occasional-papers/defence-industry-northern-ireland-leveraging-untapped-potential It advocates the North getting a larger share of the massive British arms industry, selling the proposal on ‘prosperity’ and jobs despite nationalist objections (and obviously there is no coverage of the irony of a place previously wracked by a small scale war contributing to warfare elsewhere). This item also appeared in the August news supplement

Good Relations Week, 18th – 24th September

The annual showcase of ‘good relations’ projects in the North takes place from 18th – 24th September to “celebrate the remarkable peace-building and cultural diversity efforts to tackle sectarianism, racism, and inequality across the region.” See https://goodrelationsweek.com/

ICCL Annual Report 2022

The detailed report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties on its very varied and expanding work in 2022 is available on their website at https://www.iccl.ie/?s=annual+report

CAJ: Poverty, relationships, migration, legacy

The August issue of Just News, produced by CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice https://caj.org.uk/publications/our-newsletter/just-news-august-2023/ contains important considerations well worth reading on issues as varied as the urgency of having an anti-poverty strategy in Northern Ireland, relationships and sexuality education, the Illegal Migration Act and its incompatibility with international human rights law (and particular considerations concerning the North), and the ‘notorious’ NI Legacy Bill, plus other coverage. There is also a briefing paper on the CAJ website on the Illegal Migration Act and its impact on the land border in Ireland.

Impunity and the Northern Ireland Legacy Bill

Monday 11th September from 2 – 5 pm in Belfast sees a hybrid seminar on ‘Impunity and the NI legacy bill – 50 years on from the Pinochet coup’ – exploring combatting impunity, both internationally and locally, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile. It is hosted at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and organised with CAJ, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), and the International Expert Panel on Impunity and the Northern Ireland Conflict. Both in person and online tickets are available, indicate when booking. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/impunity-and-the-ni-legacy-bill-50-years-on-from-the-pinochet-coup-tickets-695450369777

Amnesty International on surveillance of journalists in North

Amnesty International has issued succinct guidelines for journalists or human rights defenders in Northern Ireland who suspect they may have been spied upon by the PSNI. See https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/northern-ireland-journalist-guide-what-do-if-you-think-psni-has-been-spying-you

CGE: Development education and democracy webinar report

The Centre for Global Education’s June seminar on their issue of Policy and Practice on Development education and democracy is available on their website at https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/ and the issue itself at https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/

Feasta: Cap and Share, Annual Report

Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, Feasta has joined with five other NGOs on four continents to launch a new Cap and Share Climate Alliance for a fair global fossil fuel phase-out at source; see https://www.capandsharealliance.org/ Meanwhile Feasta’s annual report for 2022 is available on their website at https://www.feasta.org/annual-report/ along with lots more info.

World Beyond War (WBW) awards, conference

In their annual awards for 2023, WBW has given their Individual War Abolisher Award to Sultana Khaya, the Organizational War Abolisher Award to Wage Peace Australia, the David Hartsough Individual Lifetime War Abolisher Award to David Bradbury and the Organizational Lifetime War Abolisher Award to Fundación Mil Milenios de Paz. See https://worldbeyondwar.org/war-abolisher-awards/ and links for the compelling stories involved.

l Meanwhile WBW’s online conference #NoWar2023 Conference: Nonviolent Resistance to Militarism takes place from Friday 22nd September to Sunday 24th September. See https://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2023/ and the programme for the opening day includes a keynote speech by Jørgen Johansen and a panel on unarmed civilian protection and accompaniment.

FOE: Left out in the cold, seminar on energy poverty

Friends of the Earth has an online seminar on Monday 4th September from 7pm where they will be discussing the impacts of energy poverty and solutions to the associated crises – in the current year in Ireland the percentage of households in energy poverty reached 29%. With a mix of activists and practitioners the seminar will dig into the human impacts of this issue and what decision-makers can do to solve it, particularly in the run-up to Budget 2024. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/events/left-out-in-the-cold-a-webinar-on-energy-poverty-and-energy/

Stop Fuelling War/Cessez d’alimenter la guerre

Stop Fuelling War is a French association which exists to promote peace and disarmament, and contribute towards a world free of war, where conflict is resolved through peaceful means and where human security and human rights are prioritised over personal gain or the financial interests of the arms industry. They report “We are building on SFW’s five-year track record of promoting non-military responses to conflict resolution, presenting alternatives and working with other actors in the field……to promote non-military responses to conflict resolution and promote security based on justice, cooperation and sustainability.” Lots of useful info on their website at https://www.stopfuellingwar.org/en/

BOLD Climate Action

BOLD Climate Action is an educational project by and for older people – supported by Friends of the Earth – and has dialogue and action series starting in September. The first event is on Energy Costs, Older People and Climate Crisis, taking place in Green Street, Dublin 7 at 11am on Tuesday 12th September. https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/events/energy-costs-older-people-and-the-climate/ Further sessions are on Just Transition & Older People (Tuesday 17 October, 11 am), Global Climate Justice & Older People (Tuesday 14 November, 11 am) and Intergenerational Solidarity & the Climate Crisis (Tuesday 23 Jan 2024, 11 am). bold.climate.action@gmail.com

News, July 2023, NN 311

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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72177720309217408

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h00k3pFLofk

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: tdc1@paxchristi.ie 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/