This piece is based on a handout which was part of a presentation by INNATE coordinator Rob Fairmichael on Nonviolence in Ireland, past and present to a Pax Christi/Loyola Institute seminar on Advancing nonviolence held in TCD in October.
See the February 2023 issue of Nonviolent News for a different take, listing all of INNATE’s online resources, covering both the main INNATE site and the Flickr photo/documentation one. See https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2023/02/01/archival-documentary-and-campaigning-materials-available-from-innate/
Please get in touch at email@example.com if you are think INNATE can assist you in exploring any of the INNATE material concerned, you have suggestions for additions, or would like to explore being involved in any projects such as peace trails.
There are many issues regarding definitions of what is ‘nonviolence’ which cannot be fully explored here. This includes differentiating between ‘non-violence’ (action which is not violent) and ‘nonviolence’ (committed either ideologically/philosophically/religiously, or pragmatically as with Gene Sharp – ‘it works’). All of this determines what actions and groups we consider to be non-violent or nonviolent.
The term itself is difficult as it contains a negative (April Carter compared it with the original term for a car as a ‘horseless carriage); there have been suggestions in other languages for different terminology, e.g. ‘relentless persistence’.
We need an analytical but not imperialist (grabbing and labelling) viewpoint as to what is nonviolence/non-violence, and appreciation of different campaigns working non-violently for social change, saving the climate, etc, While we can understand other people’s actions for social or political change as part of non-violence or nonviolence we have to understand that they may not understand it that way and therefore we have to be careful and sensitive in our labelling; however there is nothing to say we cannot understand particular actions in a different way to those involved.
And is nonviolence a) an ideology, b) a spiritual or life imperative, c) a methodology, d) a pragmatic choice, e) all or some of these? f) other?
And where is the greatest imperative to be involved?
What follows are primarily resources from INNATE –
lNonviolence in Irish History pamphlet (Dawn, 1978) – covering O’Connell, Davitt, Quakers, Boycott, US ‘westward’ moving Irish, peace groups; link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/
lNonviolence – The Irish Experience Quiz link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/ This is a short attempt at a ‘prejudice reduction exercise’ to show Irish history, distant and contemporary, consists of a lot more than violence…. It starts off with a mention of the Céide Fields where people lived peaceful, settled lives 5,000 years ago, with no evidence of enemies or violence, and in 15 different examples includes the classic non-violent action of switched allegiance and setting up alternative institutions when republican MPs in 1919 set up the first Dáil rather than attend the Westminster parliament.
lPeace groups in Ireland through the years
With the notable exception of Corrymeela https://www.corrymeela.org/ (which predates the Troubles in the North) and possibly Cooperation Ireland, all the Troubles-era peace and reconciliation groups in Northern Ireland are defunct or inactive. However this pamphlet covers all groups from the early 19th century onwards in the whole island. Download from https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/
This draws for some early history on Richard Harrison’s “Irish Anti-War Movements 1824 – 1974”; his Stair na Síochána in Éirinn [le Risteárd Mac Annraoi, as gaeilge] is to be published by Coiscéim and is currently at the printers – 300 pages and illustrated.
lThe Peace People Experience (Dawn Train, 1986), this is a detailed study of the most prominent Northern peace group which began in 1976, link at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/
lPeace People and other peace groups
INNATE’s photo site is also a documentation site with information and links. Peace groups covered, North and South, include (in alphabetical order) Afri, CND, Corrymeela, Dawn, Drumcree Faith and Justice Group, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Glencree, INNATE, Irish Pacifist Movement, Northern Ireland Peace Forum, Pax Christi, Peace and Reconciliation Group, Witness for Peace, Women Together. Go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/ and select ‘Albums’.
lNonviolence in Ireland: A study guide
A short study guide for individual learning and reflection or group use. Download at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/ It consists of 16 or 17 short parts with online resources and questions for individual or group reflection.
lMy kind of nonviolence
Fifteen people from different parts of Ireland, and with different takes on the topic, write about what nonviolence means to them, available online at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/pamphlets/
lINNATE’s photo site has over 2,600 photos or entries, historical and contemporary, and the easiest way to use it is through the albums (groupings of photos on a particular topic or group) of which there are 54.
Go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/ and select ‘Albums’ from the toolbar, scroll down to see the ones that interest you. It includes albums on individual peace groups, and subject albums such as monitoring and accompaniment, Troubles and peace in Northern Ireland, disarmament and particular campaigns in this area.
lPeace trails – telling local stories of work for peace, justice and inclusion – plans got derailed by Covid but will take off again. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/peace-trails/
lVideo of seminars on recent peace movement history from seminars organised by INNATE, 2021. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/51689114275/
Larry Speight’s column in Nonviolent News (since 2004) has been an important part of INNATE’s insistence on ‘nonviolence towards the earth’.
Issues more generally include local and global justice, climate justice, peace and neutrality, social and cultural inclusion, interpersonal and ’domestic’ violence issues.
Current groups: Just some include Afri, Alternatives to Violence Project/AVP; CND/Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Corrymeela: Glencree: PANA/Peace and Neutrality Alliance; Pax Christi, StoP/Swords to Ploughshares; Financial Justice Ireland, Green groups (nonviolence towards the earth and thus humanity) including FOE, Feasta, Stop Climate Chaos, Friends of the Irish Environment, Eco Congregation; civil liberties groups inc, ICCL, CAJ.