Tag Archives: Peace

Billy King: Rites Again, 314

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

A tale of two reports

OK, we were involved with the Swords to Ploughshares/StoP report on the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy which took place in June so are somewhat biased in its favour [Biased? Never! – Ed] – but we think it demolishes the premises of the official report from Dame Louise Richardson. In this case, unfortunately, there was nothing like a Dame for doing the Irish Government’s bidding. The StoP report is methodical, even forensic at times, much more comprehensive, and better presented to boot. Louise Richardson’s is poorly argued – see e.g. Dominic Carroll’s letter demolishing her argument against sense being spoken by the common people of Ireland compared to the ‘ex-perts’ invited by the Government. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/2023/10/20/forum-on-neutrality-report/

It has to be said that in her report Louise Richardson does what she was hired/expected to do, and what she might have been expected to do. Given public opprobrium for moving away from neutrality there were limits on how far she could push the EU-NATO boat out but the minimum expected of her by the powers that be was that she justified a move away from the ‘triple lock’ on the deployment of Irish troops overseas – and, surprise, surprise, that is just what she does. It is as if Micheál Martin told her exactly what he wanted and she went away and did it. There is nothing original or innovative in her report. Nul points to Richardson for imagination.

As for her assertion that sustaining neutrality in the future would be difficult, she would say that, wouldn’t she, as she tries to lay out a path for further diminution ( = demolition) of neutrality. Does she imagine that Ireland aligning fully with EU militarism and NATO will be easy in terms of the consequences? Oh, of course, it would mean Ireland fits right in with the prevailing militarist model in north America and western Europe and that would make it ‘easy’ because they wouldn’t be asking awkward questions. But is Ireland a country with a proud international record of standing up for peace and justice (well, some of the time) or is it merely a support player to the Big Powers? The latter is where the Irish elite, political and otherwise, want to take the country.

In the official report there is not one shred of an idea as to how neutrality could be developed as a force for peace in the world, and of security for Ireland; the only show in town, so far as she is concerned, is how to get rid of this damn spot on Ireland’s (well the political and other elites’) attempt to blend with the EU-NATO military industrial complex. She does acknowledge that there is no desire to get rid of ‘neutrality’ but as government policy is to neutralise neutrality what it might mean would be meaningless. Whatever she believes, this report seems to support the idea that preparation for war war is better than preparation for jaw jaw.

Your homework for the month: compare the two reports – you can, if you like, write an essay to Compare and Contrast the two but I won’t insist on it. The StoP one is at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/report and the official report at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/36bd1-consultative-forum-chairs-report/

One overall sadness though in this whole matter is how a prominent person such as Louise Richardson, who sometimes talks a substantial amount of sense https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/?s=louise+richardson+what+terrorists+think and is obviously a public figure on both sides of the (Atlantic) pond, could be used as such a tool of the Government and of said military-industrial complex. It makes me sad. However it also makes me mad (angry).

That autumnal feeling

Many natural systems slow down or stop as winter approaches – it can be a pleasant excuse for us humans to take some things a bit easier too. While Ireland can have four seasons in a day, and seasons are more mixed up than they were due to climate change and global heating, there still are seasons. We usually divide the year into four seasons but I prefer to think in terms of micro-seasons, a period of similar weather at a particular time of year which can last for a few days or a few weeks – and weather forecasts not withstanding, we generally don’t know what we are going to get more than a few days in advance.

But there is joy to be found in nature at all seasons, however you think of them. Many people enjoy autumn colours, and I do too, but there is something amazing about walking through or past trees as the shed their leaves and these drop down to the ground. Their first and primary job is done. Next, hopefully, they will become – or be allowed to become – an addition of humus (not hummus/houmous don’t get humus spread on your bread!) to the soil and the earth. Death and life are together although the tree will have its hibernation and be ready for new growth in the spring.

If I am warm and active, or about to be active, I enjoy the feeling of chill air on leaving home, It is fresh and invigorating. That is not to say I don’t enjoy warm days in summer (or any other season). Every season has its joys. Autumn is now later than it was, I don’t think it is exaggerating to say that some decades ago trees were bare or virtually bare by the end of October – well, not any more. Anyway, ‘Happy autumn’. Hereby ends my paean of praise to autumn [or is ‘paean’ a misspelling of ‘pain’? – Ed].

Souper

Speaking of autumnal feelings, we are in our neck of the northern hemisphere now well into the season for taking soup. Taking the soup is however another matter – and my ancestors had no need or temptation in that direction as they were already well ensconced on what was then the winning side. My grandparents’ ethnic origin included Ulster Scots (probably through natural migration rather than plantation due to their geographical location in north Antrim), Huguenot, and two of English plantation origin – though again not Ulster Plantation. I am sure I have told you before that the French chef in England who devised a soup recipe for the giant cauldrons (‘famine pots’) for public distribution during An Gorta Mór – take a dozen turnips….kind of thing – was thanked by the establishment in Dublin….with a sumptuous banquet….

But back to getting souped up today. It can be the heart of a lunch, a snack, or even a dinner if you have a hearty thick soup with croutons or savoury dumplings. Making soup from scratch is of course possible but most of the time we would make it with leftovers, especially around leftover lentil dhal with other leftover veg plus perhaps additional onions, chilli or garlic, possibly vegetable water/stock, and flavourings or herbs. Most of the time we wouldn’t liquidise the soup although other times we would, partially or wholly. You can also add leftover noodles or pasta, chopped up if needed and you have it. Finely liquidised lentils can make for a really creamy soup.

However you may not have the leftovers or the time to make soup and fancy something warming. We had been able to buy some non-supermarket organic instant soups without emulsifiers before Covid but those have disappeared. We can still buy instant (dried) miso soup which is fine but a bit thin and boring if you have it too frequently.

However I was mulling [I thought that was for wine, not soup – Ed] over the theme of miso quite recently which I would have used as an ingredient in soups and stews. I realised that I could make a great instant soup – apart from the stirring! with just three ingredients – miso paste, bouillon or vegetable cubes, and nutritional yeast (e.g. Engevita, this is yeast flakes not ‘yeast extract’ Marmite-type product though you could try that too – I haven’t). The miso adds depth and nutrition, the bouillon or veggie cube gives taste, and the nutritional yeast tops it off with richness or umami. There is a bit of stirring to do with the miso paste but it is still pretty instant and no preparation is needed.

Miso and nutritional yeast may seem on the expensive side but they go a long way, and miso paste will keep a long time in the fridge. Take a dessert spoon of miso, a teaspoon of bouillon powder or a half soup cube, plus a teaspoon of the nutritional yeast and put them into your favourite mug. You can use heaped spoons or less depending on your taste. You can fill it with boiling water straight away or, it may be easier, a little boiling water until you get the miso mixed and then top it up. It may take a minute or two to get it all mixed or you will be left, as you drain the last drop of liquid into your mouth, with half solid miso at the bottom. This is a rich and satisfying ‘instant’ soup. And I have no extra charge for culinary advice. © Billy King Cuisine 2023

A Hugh presence

The death of the former Olympic medal boxer and Irish News photographer Hugh Russell has featured in a number of media and I am not going to go much into his life here, that is available elsewhere and online. Though small of stature he had a huge presence and a great smile. His best known scoop was the iconic photo of Gerry Conlon as he was just being released from his wrongful imprisonment.

Why I am mentioning his death is mainly because as a ‘demonstrator in the street’ I wanted to pay tribute to him as a friendly media presence in different situations in Belfast when we would have been wondering whether any media would turn up, and if so whether they would be interested in the cause concerned. He was always willing to chat and make suggestions for the best photographic shot, and you knew if he was there then it was likely a photo of something to do with the event would be in the paper the next day . He was only approaching retirement age when he died. I will miss his friendly presence and infectious smile on the street.

Gazing at Gaza

It is hard to wrench your gaze from Gaza and if you do look then it is heart breaking, if you don’t you feel you are ignoring terrible suffering. Some of the people of southern Israel knew terror when attacked by Hamas. The revengeful attack on Gaza by Israel is relentless and impossible to escape, creating terror on a daily basis. Those moving south in Gaza, as ordered by Israel, are still not safe. There is nowhere to go. What people can do in the West is limited but their plea publicly for a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities is important. Israel’s avowed aim to destroy Hamas is destroying Gaza and its people – half of whose population are children. Many governments in the West, including those in the USA and UK, are complicit in the destruction and death in Gaza by not pushing Israel to cease fire.

If you are looking for some facts about Gaza, at least in terms of recent history, you can do worse than see/listen to an interview with Prof Norman Finkelstein on the USA Jimmy Dore Show at https://rumble.com/v3okvw3-gaza-israel-and-the-hamas-attacks-w-prof.-norman-finkelstein.html It is long but informative – I wasn’t able to fast forward at any point, you probably need to let it run. Finkelstein’s spoken manner is a bit shouty but much of his analysis is first class – there is also some US politics at points.

I don’t apologise for ending on a ‘down’ note again. The Irish born comedian Dave Allan (born O’Mahony) had a farewell greeting of “May your God go with you”. In that vein I and we might offer ‘a prayer’ or a determined wish, secular or religious according to your orientation, “May God help us all and particularly the people of Gaza and all those affected by the curse of war.” – Billy.

StoP report on Consultative Forum on International Security

The controversial ‘Consultative Forum on International Security’ of June 2023 was set up by the Minister for Foreign Affairs – but to what end? This detailed report, prepared by a working group of StoP (Swords to Ploughshares Ireland), looks at the 4 days of the Forum in detail. Included is a preamble, setting the scene, and a substantial set of conclusions which can be drawn from the current situation regarding neutrality and security and what the Forum did and did not consider, Click here to download – StoP Report Forum on International Security Mark 2

This is also available on the StoP website at https://www.swordstoploughshares-ireland.com/report

 

 

Editorials: Ukraine long war, Northern Ireland ‘Legacy’

The long war

It is dead (sic) easy to get into war but extremely difficult to get out of it.

The war in Ukraine is a classic ‘long war’ where no side can gain sufficient advantage to get into the situation where it can ‘win’. In that, and in its trench warfare, it is reminiscent of the First World War except with 21st century weapons and technology. So both sides continue to pour soldiers, civilians, and money, down the drain. And the more money and blood expended in the cause, the more difficult it is to sacrifice that ‘sacrifice’ to move to peace; Shakespeare put it eloquently into the mouth of Macbeth – “I am in blood / Stepped in so far that should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” – ‘tedious’ here meaning difficult.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said on 17th September (speaking to the EU Parliament) that “Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin. Therefore we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine.” He went on to say that ““There is no doubt that Ukraine will eventually be in Nato”* – a crazy thing to say when it was Ukrainian prospective membership of NATO which was a major cause of the Russian invasion. He also conflates or confuses future Ukrainian security with Ukrainian membership of NATO when the two are very much not the same thing; there can be guarantees of Ukrainian territorial integrity which are nothing whatsoever to do with NATO. *INNATE continues to use the upper case acronym ‘NATO’ rather than ‘Nato’ as we consider the latter an attempt to make it seem like a friendly neighbourhood organisation rather than a major war alliance with nuclear weapons.

Continuing the comparison with the First World War there is another, extremely dangerous, possible parallel with the First World War. The Second World War was a direct result of the First through the penalisation and victimisation of Germany. The disorder of the post-First World War years in Germany, which were brought about partly by economic and other penalties on Germany, led to the rise of fascism – and the rest, tragically, is history.

There is the danger that the West, especially the USA but others as well, want Russia to be humiliated through this war, not just to have a settlement that they and Ukraine can live with. For the West it is a proxy war. We have already seen what happened when NATO, against Russian warnings, continued to push its boundaries eastward – something which they undertook not to do at the time of the collapse of Soviet communism and control in Eastern Europe.

We have stated here previously, numerous times, that the USA and the West expected Russia to accept something which was totally unacceptable to the USA. In 1962 the world came close to the brink of nuclear war when Russia/the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba. This was ‘the enemy at the gate’ and the USA threatened nuclear annihilation if the situation was not remedied to its satisfaction. Russia compromised. And yet the USA and the West expected – expect – Russia to accept NATO weaponry, of all sorts, on its borders in Ukraine if it joined/joins NATO and/or the EU. The USA is a world superpower militarily and Russia now only a regional military power – admittedly flexing its muscles in Africa and the Middle East – but the situations are identical. The West misjudged the situation and expected Putin to roll over.

While what was said had its own nuances, Jens Stoltenberg in his September address to the EU Parliament https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_218172.htm?selectedLocale=en went on confirm many of the details of Putin opposing NATO expansionism. Putin in autumn 2021 “sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine……So he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.” While Putin was looking for more than the above in terms of the withdrawal from NATO by countries in central and eastern Europe, it has to be recognised that their membership was contrary to promises previously given to Russia.

Not to have entered talks and negotiations with Russia was a monumental error and part of NATO’s belligerence and feeling of superiority; perhaps a modus vivendi could have been reached as opposed to the current modus morendi (way of dying). In terms of military thinking, Russia had a legitimate interest which was brushed aside by NATO. Russia’s demands might have seemed unreasonable by the standards of realpolitik but that is what discussion and mediative processes are about; the different sides put out their stalls and views and, then, collectively look at whether movement is possible. There could indeed have been ways to reassure Russia on its security but NATO did not bother to look. This is a substantial cause of the war in Ukraine – obviously not the only one with Putin deciding he could pull a fast one militarily but he got bogged down by Ukrainian military resistance.

Should Russia be humiliated in defeat, with consequences for the Russian state and society, it is quite possible that the same scenario could emerge as in Germany after the First World War – the emergence of leadership which makes Vladimir Putin look like a screaming liberal. Brutal and unnecessary as Russia’s war on Ukraine has been, the art of trying to put a conflict to bed and being able to move on is through giving both sides an ‘out’, not in penalising one side, the losers. In other words, Putin has to be allowed to save face, whether that is liked or not. We are not saying Russia and Russians should not face war crimes trials; we are saying Russia and Russians need to be allowed to move on to hopefully a more peaceful future.

There are many ways a settlement could come about while retaining justice for Ukraine. Crimea was mainly ethnically Russian and a possession of Ukraine’s based on a whim of Stalin, a move not too significant at a time when all were in the Soviet Union. Ukraine accepting the loss of Crimea would be a psychological blow but could be a price well worth paying. Accepting Crimea as Russian might seem to give in to ‘might is right’ but compromise may be necessary to avoid endless bloodshed. So far as the eastern provinces of Ukraine claimed by Russia, we have suggested Russia withdrawing but allowing all there to claim Russian citizenship. Attending to Russian interests in terms of security guarantees is part of meeting Russian interests rather than being put off by its positions and this was an important part of the Russian invasion to begin with, aside from arch-nationalist concepts of a ‘Greater Russia’.

A long war is in nobody’s interest except the arms companies who, as usual, are happy to make a killing (sic) from it. Attempting to get Russia into harmonious relationships with the rest of Europe has to be a long term aim, a possibility which was badly dealt with after the fall of the Soviet communist regime when the West did nothing. This does not mean excusing Russian crimes but nor should it mean excusing other countries’ crimes; Brown University’s study attributes 4.5 million deaths to the USA’s warmaking since 2022 https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2023/IndirectDeaths – and where are the penalties and sanctions on the USA? And there are carrots as well as sticks which can be used, even if better relations with Russia may have to await another leader than Putin.

Ireland, meanwhile has jumped on the bandwagon of military support for Ukraine through training for Ukrainian soldiers as well as ‘non-lethal’ support. Not only is this incompatible with neutrality but denies Ireland the opportunity, which it should be taking, to explore possibilities for bringing the war to a close, a war to which there is currently no end in sight. If you don’t look then you don’t see. If you don’t explore possibilities to end the war then it is permitting more and more death and misery. Those seeking peaceful solutions and resolutions should never be put off by the position adopted by the different sides but strive to find ways to meet sufficient of the belligerents’ interests that an end to the war becomes possible. Ireland is doing nothing in this regard.

– See also ‘Readings in Nonviolence’ in this issue which looks at different peace proposals and possibilities to end the war in Ukraine,

Northern Ireland:

A miserable legacy

Challenges to the British government’s Legacy Act, formally the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, as it now is since it passed into law, are coming from from a variety of sources, national and international – including possibly the Irish government. So, just perhaps, it may not get too far. It offers a conditional amnesty to those accused of killings during the Troubles and will stop any new Troubles-era court cases and inquests being held.

However the whole sad saga presents an appalling picture of how the current British government treats Northern Ireland. To act against the will of every single political party in Northern Ireland takes some doing not only because of the way that represents the vast majority in the North but because such unity, such unanimity across the board, is so unusual. Even if the British government really did believe its Act is the way forward (which is dubious) it should have hesitated to act against such universal opposition; its actions smack of superiority and, dare we say it, colonialism.

The current system and possibilities are not ideal but all the Northern Ireland political parties and victims’ groups are certain it is preferable to the new Legacy Act. With the passage of time the chances are getting steadily slimmer of justice in the courts, or even for truth through the coroners’ courts, but this was considered preferable. Meanwhile, of course, the British government reneged on the deal which it had done in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement which did provide an agreed way forward and institutions to match. The government failed to implement the deal and then, in 2020, announced it would develop its own proposals – resulting in the Legacy Act of today.

Cui bono? Apart from a few commentators, only British military veterans’ groups are in favour and that gives a clue. But a major factor is surely not only protecting former British military personnel, it is even more protecting the state. We already have a certain amount of information about the actions of the state in running informers within paramilitary organisations but there are major questions about what agents of the state knew about forthcoming paramilitary actions where they could have prevented deaths but did not do so to protect their sources or agents, or for other reasons. And then there is the impunity given to informers who in some cases were involved in appalling actions. This is, of course, aside from where deaths and human rights abuses were perpetrated by soldiers and other agents of the state.

Human rights groups have been scathing about the Legacy Act, drawing comparisons with what was done in Chile introducing impunity for those involved with the Pinochet regime. The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) states, for example, that it “fails to honour the UK’s obligation under the ECHR to carry out proper investigations into deaths and serious injuries that occurred during the NI conflict“ – and indeed that the UK government is in serial breach of its obligations to do so. They also state that it would “shut down existing legacy mechanisms at a time when such mechanisms are increasingly delivering for families.”

The Troubles were a terrible time for many people living in Northern Ireland. Moving on from the Troubles, even 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement, has also been very difficult. For the British government to do a ‘solo run’ on the legacy of the past when there was a very reasonable collective agreement on the issue nearly nine years ago is quite bizarre and would suggest that they are acting primarily in their own interests to protect the British state. That is particularly sad for victims across the board – civilian, paramilitary, police, military, whoever. Justice delayed, or in this case negated, is justice denied but truth has a way of emerging in the end. And the judgement on those who closed off possibilities for justice will not be a warm one.

Archival, documentary and campaigning materials available from INNATE

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

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

INNATE photo and documentation site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lINNATE seminars and conferences – Photos of participants and documentation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INNATE main website

https://innatenonviolence.org/

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

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

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

lAn alternative defence for Ireland (Dawn, 1983)

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

lBishopscourt Peace Camp 1983-86

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

lChristian Nonviolence – a study pack (1993)

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

lConsensus for small groups

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

lCorrymeela House Belfast

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

lDawn Train

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

lEco echoes

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

lMichael Davitt, Land War and Non-violence

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

lINNATE annual reports

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

lMusical musings on Irish history and culture (2002+)

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

lNonviolence – The Irish Experience Quiz

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

lNonviolence in Ireland – a study guide

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

lNonviolence – An introduction

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

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

lNonviolence Manifesto from INNATE

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

lNonviolent News since 1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lNonviolence in Irish History

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

lMy kind of nonviolence (2012)

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

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

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

lPeace groups in Ireland through the years

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

lThe Peace People Experience, 1987

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

lPeace trails

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

lPosters

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

lWorkshops/Training in nonviolence, and group work and dynamics

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

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

lVegetarian and vegan cuisine

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

Materials passed to PRONI

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

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

D4828

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

PTE 83/2022

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

Billy King: Rites Again, 305

In the damp of Irish weather you might not always recognise relatively warm weather outside of summer, but the autumn has been just that. In the garden, leaves and foliage have been very slow to die back and perennial plants to take on their winter garb (or lack of it). ‘Our’ lilac – actually in a neighbour’s garden – still has quite a few leaves on it and the new growth which came after it got chopped back in the summer looks perfectly green and healthy. Marigolds and rudbeckia are still flowering away. The gorse/furze/whins/aiteann outside the city looks like it is coming into nearly full bloom. A few decades ago you could have expected a hard frost before the end of October – I define a hard frost as probably something below -2° although in practice I see it as when all the nasturtiums turn to mush. Last winter there was no ‘hard frost’ at all. It’s global warming at work, and in the Irish context that can mean more rain and wind. And you may want to issue a religious or secular prayer that the Gulf Stream doesn’t stop or Newfoundland here we come…..

Reconciliation

Reconciliation is an interesting word and concept, conciliation is too but what does it mean and especially in the context of the North? Rev Norman Hamilton, a former Presbyterian Church in Ireland moderator, recently accused the various governments and politicians of not having a clear definition https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/politics/ex-presbyterian-moderator-asks-london-dublin-washington-and-ni-politicial-parties-for-their-definition-of-reconciliation-3906790

There are technical definitions of reconciliation in relation to accounting and legislative processes but relevant definitions in this context include “The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity” and “the process of two people or groups in a conflict agreeing to make amends or come to a truce” – obviously in the context of the North, however, we are talking about group processes, so “the process of making two people or groups of people friendly again after they have argued seriously or fought and kept apart from each other, or a situation in which this happens” is a bit more apposite (as opposed to opposite). We probably all need to work on our own definitions of reconciliation, and indeed our understanding of forgiveness (another difficult one to be clear about).

I am reminded of the old cartoon about a character expressing thanks for advice they were given about dealing with interpersonal conflict rather than letting it fester. Asked how they resolved the matter they stated, “I killed the bastard”. No, not funny except just possibly in a fictional circumstance of someone doing the unexpected. And doing something positive and unexpected is an excellent way to promote reconciliation. A positive gesture or undertaking can be a great way to assist travelling to reconciliation. Actually listening to each other in the North, as opposed to talking at each other, could be such a gesture.

The U?S of A

There are bodies which proclaim themselves unreformed and unreformable. However realities change over time even if systems do not and the US political system seems singularly inappropriate for the 21st century, likewise the idea that you need a billion dollars, or thereabouts, to even enter the presidential race, and before that there is a long race to enter the bigger long race.

I have been following events there with some interest especially in the Trump era and afterwards, including Republican moves to get into key election posts where they can call the shots (sic). I know US democracy, such as it is, is teetering on the brink. But I was astounded to read an article in the Guardian where all three writers took quite pessimistic views on the topic of how close the USA is to civil war https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/nov/06/how-close-is-the-us-to-civil-war-barbara-f-walter-stephen-march-christopher-parker?CMP=share_btn_link

Of course definitions of ‘civil war’ do not need to move to images of Gettysburg, it can be assassinations, turmoil of various kinds, political violence. The ‘U’SA is certainly already very divided and did have what amounted to some sort of coup attempt within the last couple of years in the Capitol invasion of 6th January 2021. Where the legitimacy of the decision making process in the political system is already hotly contested then there are certainly Big Problems.

Will mob rule trump or can the USA move to a more democratic system? I am not sure of the answer to that one. There are strong labor, civil rights, peace and other movements within the US which are often not recognised. But whether they and those on the left and centre of the political class can avoid meltdown is an unfortunate question to have to ask.

The extent to which the USA is being overtaken as an economic superpower is also relevant. People may go with the ‘bigger pie’ argument of economic development, unsustainable as that is, and many people have gone with Trumpism, it would seem, because of hits they have taken economically. However the Donald is not as much flavour of the decade in US Republican circles since the US mid-term elections didn’t show he was delivering the goods (in terms of people he was backing doing well) but it would be a brave person to write off Trump. To mix metaphors, you can’t keep a rotten apple down.

Edumbification

There are many questions about the economic development model in the Republic and its reliance on multinationals but there is no denying that It Has Worked to a considerable extent in helping to bring wealth. And why did it work? Relatively low taxation, a largely English speaking environment, membership of the EU, and an educated population attracted the, mainly US, multinationals. And where did the population get educated? Partly from (what were) the regional technical colleges, now technological universities, established from the start of the 1970s, but also because of an emphasis on education within many families.

However the relative lack of investment in education in the Republic is a danger for the future, as quality may decline in some instances. But in the North under the current British government regime, and no Stormont, there are going to be actual cuts as opposed to inflation eating away at educational spending power. This is so short sighted as to be dangerously myopic.

A recent survey by the ESRI https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-63779243 showed economic productivity in the Republic to be 40% higher per head than in the North – there are some uncertainties about the role of multinational profits in this but the study tried to take this into account. “An additional economic modelling exercise undertaken by the authors suggests that almost all of the productivity gap can be explained by lower levels of investment and skilled workers in Northern Ireland. Low investment and relatively low levels of skills are chronic problems in the Northern Ireland economy, although there has been some improvement in skills in recent years. The authors suggest that if firms in Ireland were faced with the same labour market as exists in Northern Ireland productivity levels would fall by an average of 30% and as much as 60% in some sectors.”

Cutting spending on education, at any level, is simply crazy. Skilled workers have to be paid for and their skills built up from the first day of kindergarten and primary school, not in a rat-race way but in terms of allowing the potential of the child or young adult to develop. For the North to have to cut back on education at any level, and in the economic context most directly post-secondary education, is totally crazy. But that is where things are at, and it is sadistic as well as sad for those whose life chances will be stymied by such cuts.

Celebrating murderers

Celebrations of gunmen who have killed others in the Troubles are common in Northern Ireland, in numerous different formats including especially murals and ‘wayside shrines’. However the writing is certainly not on the wall for violent murals like the new UVF one on the Shankill Road, Belfast which celebrates two arms-toting men and a red poppy wreath (on the latter my comment is ‘no comment’). Naturally the daughter of someone murdered by one of the gunmen is distraught; having the killer of your father openly celebrated must be painful beyond the imagination.

However the law, as interpreted, says this mural is legal. It is certainly not a moral mural but it is judged legal by the police who have said that while it is abhorrent it does “not constitute the offence of Encouragement of Terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2006, or other offences.“ If that is the case then the law is a wal-ly and needs to change. How paramilitarism is remembered and celebrated in the North is deeply problematic and paramilitary memorialisation is a key way in which territories are defined and marked, something which has to be overcome if divisions and hatreds are ever to be transcended.

Maybe in time in Northern Ireland we can come to celebrate togetherness in a vibrant and meaningful way which overcomes and leaves far behind the divisions which exist but marks our common humanity. Last time I looked, Catholics and Protestants in the North, or however you describe those two cultural-political grupings, were both human beings and members of homo not-too-sapiens.

Leprechauns and leps forward

It would be remiss of me, given the news item about The Steel Shutter film and 50th anniversary conference in the news section of this issue, not to mention a little saying by one of the participants involved in the original event. Belfast community worker Sean Cooney, who was in the 1972 encounter group, used to talk approvingly, in the community context, about “the leprechauns – the people close to the ground”! My only surprise in mentioning this is that he is the only person I have heard using this expression or joke.

Well, the year is drawing towards a close, not a year to look back on with any fondness in relation to building peace and progress at home or abroad. In fact with the ecological crisis closing in on us there is a more than a sense of trepidation. But I wish you a peaceful and pleasant Christmas/New Year and, well, a peaceful world in 2023…..and if I wish you a Preposterous New Year then what I wish for is some people stepping outside of their constraints to do the radically positive actions which are needed to transform the dire circumstances we face. Imagination and not procrastination is what is needed in many areas of life and the world. I hope you have a great break over Christmas and New Year, and c u in 2023…. Billy

INNATE Annual report 2021

 

Being pro-active and innovative is always easier to talk about than do but, strange as it may seem, the Covid era has made some developments more possible. The formation of StoP – Swords to Ploughshares – a network on the arms trade and demilitarisation in Ireland, and work INNATE has been doing on Irish peace movement history, have both been made easier by the shift to remote working.

StoP was started by INNATE following a seminar on the arms trade in late 2020; it is an independent, cooperative network which has had a good first year with involvement from Derry, Belfast, Dublin, Limerick and Galway among other places. It has acted as network, clearing house, and call to action. The highlight of the year for work in this area was undoubtedly the launch of the Downpatrick Declaration (originated from within Afri, and backed by INNATE and StoP); this proactive attempt to address militarisation in Ireland is a vital ingredient in work for peace. https://www.downpatrickdeclaration.com/ A StoP seminar on how Raytheon was kicked out of Derry was another important piece of work. https://youtu.be/Y0MxO1GmACQ

Work on peace movement history came to the fore for INNATE with two seminars in November, one on work to do with Northern Ireland and one on international peace work in Ireland. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/51689114275/in/dateposted/ This endeavour will continue in 2022; so far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the work fits into INNATE’s ‘Civil society and the Troubles’ project, to record and accredit work done by all parts of civil society. Meanwhile five large boxes of INNATE’s peace movement ephemera, records and event files went to PRONI/the Public Record Office NI, with more to go, and other materials are seeking a home as part of downsizing.

Public manifestations were not entirely absent; the coming into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was marked by an event organised by INNATE at the police/PSNI headquarters at Knock, Belfast – and the British government reported for acting illegally. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/50862311953/in/album-72157616378924274/ On St Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick himself, along with supporters, appeared at Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast’s docks to drive out the drones being developed there for the RAF. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/51046065166/in/album-72157616378924274/

The usual 10 full issues of INNATE’s monthly publication Nonviolent News were produced in 2021, and a news supplement for January (there was none in August due to illness). In terms of length, issues averaged just over 10,000 words. One series which has been running has been on ‘Art and peace’ with interviews conducted by Stefania Gualberti, and this will continue. Each issue has had Larry Speight’s careful and informative ecological analysis, and Billy King’s more wayward musings.

The main INNATE website moved to using WordPress early in the year which means that it is usually online at the same time as the e-mail edition is sent out; all the old content is still there. The shorter paper edition resumed monthly despatch in the autumn with the ‘missing’ issues (due to Covid) being mailed out then.

The INNATE photo and documentary site, with considerably over two thousand entries on Flickr, has continued to build up and can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/ It should well surpass half a million photo views in 2022. To facilitate finding what might be sought, using the word search or else accessing material via the named 43 subject albums is recommended.

Many other explorations and engagements took place not detailed here. A draft listing of peace groups in Ireland since the 19th century was drawn up and circulated for comment, listing nearly sixty projects and organisations in all (a few of which came and went a couple of times) and this publication was finalised early in 2022.

Monthly INNATE meetings took place remotely in 2021, with additional planning meetings as necessary.. Everyone is very welcome to join in and ‘anyone’ ‘anywhere’ can participate; we very much welcome additional involvement (even in a very limited way) and greatly appreciate those who contribute financially as INNATE is run on a very frayed and tight shoestring – and all those involved in the work are volunteers.

Rob Fairmichael, Coordinator, February 2022