Irish plans for fossil fuel divestment It's not often that Ireland leads the way on green matters but it is doing so in relation to government divestment from fossil fuels. On 26th January the Dáil voted by 90 votes to 53 on the second stage of a bill to divest from fossil fuel companies, and it now goes to committee. Only Fine Gael and some supporting independents opposed the bill. Commenting on the landmark vote, Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth (FOE) said: "This is first real sign of leadership from Ireland on climate action. Over the last 20 years our Governments have more often been laggards than leaders. Playing catch up at best, more often being delinquent. Today our parliament stepped up and overruled the ministers and civil servants whose first instinct is to do as little as possible, and nothing at all until they are forced to act." FOE comments that the campaign to divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund from fossil fuels has been led by Trócaire, with the support of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition who have it as one of their top demands.
The bill itself was introduced by Independent TD Thomas Pringle and written "in light of the urgency to phase out fossil fuel exploration, extraction and combustion in a timely manner to enable delivery of the commitment adopted in the Paris Agreement." It would enable Ireland to divest its sovereign wealth fund, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), worth €8.5 billion, from coal, gas and oil and would see a ban on any further fossil fuels investment going forward. When passed, ISIF would have to sell its fossil fuel industries over 5 years. Fossil Free Europe described the event as "an important moment in the history of the divestment movement."
Thomas Pringle commented "This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated. We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result." www.foe.iewww.stopclimatechaos.iegofossilfree.org/europe
War –Torn Children exhibition, Belfast
The War-Torn Children exhibition is on at the Linen Hall Library, Donegall Square, Belfast, from 1st March – 15th April and highlights the devastating impact of war on children. It is an initiative of Conflict Textiles and INNATE in collaboration with the Linen Hall Library, CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) and Fundació Ateneu Sant Roc (Catalonia), whose photographic exhibition Després de les onades / After the Waves is included. The exhibition consists of textiles (arpilleras and wall hangings), posters, letters, photos and memorabilia.
The exhibition launch is open and takes place at 1pm in the Linen Hall Library on Wednesday 1st March 2017. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, will deliver the keynote address. This will be followed by the, also open, 6pm launch of Margaretta D'Arcy's book: "Ireland's Guantanamo Granny" and the publication of a new edition of her book "Tell them Everything." Phil Scraton (Emeritus Professor of Criminology, QUB), will facilitate a discussion with Margaretta D'Arcy. Open programme during the exhibition includes a guided tour by Roberta Bacic, on Friday 3rd March at 3pm, and an arpillera doll making workshop, facilitated by Roberta Bacic, from 2 – 4pm on Friday 14th April (enquire about booking). See here
The Corrymeela Community is organising its first annual Carafest over Easter Weekend 14th–17th April, at the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle. This festival will have seminars from the programme team, seminars and workshops from Community Members, worship times, music, discussions with Jo Berry & Pat Magee, stories from Liz Weir, political, interfaith and refugee panel discussions, times for talking, long meals and a celebration of life at Easter. There will be a celebration of Easter Sunday with the dawn of the new day at a service on the cliffs overlooking Rathlin Island and the Mull of Kintyre. The word reconciliation means 'to become friends again' and so the word 'cara' (friend in Irish and Scots Gaelic) has been chosen for this festival of faith and reconciliation. You can book online and prices range from £99 for the full weekend with accommodation and breakfast to £50 non-residential; family tickets and day tickets are also available. www.corrymeela.org
Shannon, Dublin implementing Trump immigration ban on Muslims
Irish peace and anti-racism groups have joined together to denounce the implementation of a US Immigration ban on Muslims at pre-clearance facilities in Dublin and Shannon airports. US President Trump signed an order which means people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen travelling to the US via Ireland are likely to be detained. "Shannon and Dublin's complicity in allowing the US to deny entry to approved refugees, asylum seekers, visa holders and even US legal residents is shocking" said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. He continued "The fact that people could now be barred from planes at Shannon because of their religion or country of origin is in stark contrast to the fact that CIA torturers and US military personnel linked to war crimes have been allowed to pass through the same airport unimpeded." Vicky Donnelly, coordinator of Galway One World Centre said "Any cooperation with this racist and surely illegal ban only adds to the shame felt by many people in this region at our complicity with US militarism at Shannon, and it must be resisted". www.shannonwatch.org
Afri: Féile Bríde
This will take place on Saturday 4th February, 11am - 5pm, at Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare Town. Among the issues to be explored at this year's conference will be forced migration – the inevitable consequence of war and climate change. Féile Bríde happens annually in Kildare around the start of Spring in February. It is a time for celebration and reflection in the spirit of Brigid's message of justice, peace and hope which is as relevant as ever today. Speakers will include distinguished peace activist and author Kathy Kelly and Scottish writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh. Book tickets online. The Afri website is at www.afri.ie This item appeared in the January 2017 e-mail/web news supplement
Pope Francis on nonviolence
Pope Francis issued an important statement on nonviolence for the Fiftieth World Day of Peace on 1st January, "Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace". It includes statements like "make active nonviolence our way of life" and "To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence." While mainly emphasising the positives of nonviolence he also says "Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering.....At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all." See here.
AVP – Alternatives to Violence Project
Upcoming prison workshops are 10th-12th February, Second level workshop in Wheatfield prison (full); 21st-23rd February, Basic workshop in Shelton Abbey; 24th-26th February, Second level workshop in Cloverhill prison. Workshops are coming up for Limerick, Castlerea and Dublin in March but the dates are not confirmed yet. If you would like to attend one, get in contact but for prison workshops the clearance process can take up to four months. In January there were basic workshops in Wheatfield and Limerick and three one day workshops for Transition Year Students were run in St Mark's Community School by a team of young facilitators. See avpireland.ie
Natural flood management and protection
A new study, "Natural Flood Management: Adopting ecosystem approaches to managing flood risk", commissioned by Friends of the Earth and written by Anja Murray, has found that natural land management techniques can significantly reduce flood risk but are being ignored by Irish policy-makers, despite evidence of their contribution to flood management around Europe. Natural Flood Management is a comprehensive approach to managing soil, wetlands, woodlands and floodplains along a river to retain and slow water at times of flood risk, reducing the speed and the peak of floodwaters compared to approaches that rely only on dredging and walls. The report was launched at an event to mark World Wetlands Day in Dublin City Council.
Speaking at the launch, the report's author, ecologist and broadcaster, Anja Murray said:"Natural flood management has gained recognition in many countries as a viable and cost effective approach to flood risk management, with extensive projects across Europe and further afield that have restored peat bogs, planted riparian woodlands, restored and created new wetlands, re-profiled rivers and their floodplains to hold back floodwaters.
"Natural flood management is virtually unknown in Ireland, despite the growing problem of widespread flood damage in recent years and forecasts of worse to come. There have been no trials or pilots of catchment based approaches to flood management in Ireland, despite the evidence that natural flood management can be an effective means of significantly reducing flood peak." The report is available on the Irish FOE website www.foe.ie
MII and elder mediation
MII/The Mediators' institute of Ireland took up the theme from a programme on RTE television on 16th January which showed the struggle of one family to get the appropriate care for a parent after a stroke. "Deciding on the best and most appropriate care setting for a loved one can be a very challenging time for families," commented Seosamh Ó Maolalaí, MII Elder Mediation Liaison, "One of the biggest challenges is getting agreement among family members, including the older person concerned, on the best and most appropriate type of care for the person who needs it. Having these difficult conversations is always challenging. And this is where mediation can be of huge assistance and support". See here.
Summer School on Transitional Justice: Gender and conflict
The summer school of the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, runs from Monday 12th June - Friday 16th June 2017 at the Jordanstown campus, on the topic "Gender, Conflict and Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism: International, Regional and Local Dimensions." It is aimed at both postgraduate students and practitioners working in the field of transitional justice and human rights. See here
Civil society call to reject CETA
Over 80 Irish civil society groups, including unions, farmers and business owners, are calling on MEPs to reject the EU Canada trade deal (CETA) on which the final vote will be taken on 14th February. The trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA, will compromise laws which protect health, food standards, the environment, workers' rights, and the rule of law in the EU as we know it. The most controversial element is that the agreement will allow foreign companies to sue countries that introduce laws and policies which impact on their profits. This will put countries like Ireland under pressure not to bring in laws which limit businesses in any way, laws that may be designed to limit tobacco use or pollution levels, for example.
Mark Cumming, Head of Comhlámh, the association of international development workers and volunteers, said: "We are calling on people to use the online CETA Check tool to call on MEPs to reject the deal. Many Irish MEPs have not committed to vote against the deal yet."
Attracta Uí Bhroin, Facilitator of Environmental Law Implementation Group (ELIG) said: "The most controversial element of CETA is it will allow companies to sue countries that introduce policies or laws which impact on their profits, in a special system outside the courts. This will put countries like Ireland under pressure not to bring public interest laws which limit businesses in any way. We've yet to see the Government's sums which justify how this deal is in the interest of Irish citizens who will have to foot the bill of these claims in the future. If the EU Parliament approves this deal in February, this will clear the way for many elements of the deal to come into effect even before Dáil Eireann gets to vote on it." See here to contact your MEP to vote against CETA. See also environmentalpillar.ie
4 Corners Festival, Belfast
Coming from a cross-community Christian background, this Festival seeks to inspire people from across Belfast to transform the city for the peace and prosperity of all. It consists of innovative events of music, prayer, storytelling and discussion designed to entice people out of their own 'corners' of the city, and into new places to encounter new friends and perspectives. This year's theme is "Our Wounded and Wonderful City" and it includes music and poetry, art and prose, lecture and play, walk and banquet. The 4 Corners Festival takes places from Friday 3rd to Sunday 12th February. Full programme at www.4cornersfestival.com
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