Afri Hedge School 2017

Afri Hedge School 2017
The Right to Food and Shelter

Tuesday 7th November, 9.45am- 3.30pm
Room A47, I.T. Blanchardstown

The 2017 Hedge School will look at some of the causes of hunger, homelessness and displacement. Organised in partnership with third year students from the Community and Youth Development course in I.T. Blanchardstown.

Free entry to all – donations welcome to cover costs. Lunch, and tea/coffee is provided.

You can book on Eventbrite by going here

CETA, Fancy Socks and Corporate Power

Afri’s focus on An Gorta Mór is about looking at causes and consequences and, especially at its relevance for today.  The ‘Great Hunger’ had many causes, including colonialism, blind allegiance to laissez faire economics and loss of biodiversity leading to over-dependence on one variety of potato.  These issues remain totally relevant today as, for example, ten large profit-driven corporations control the vast majority of the food we eat.  It is in this context that Afri has been campaigning to highlight serious concerns around the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).  Not only is this deal about further promotion of intensive agriculture, but most worryingly of all, it includes the toxic ‘Investor Court System’.  This short film outlines some of the issues involved.

 

Ramblings and the 2017 Famine Walk

Afri Famine Walk 2017, Doolough, County Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

Sometimes you really do count your blessings.  There I was, in November 2016, setting out from Louisburgh Co. Mayo on a cold wet autumn morning, wondering whether my right leg, mildly strained in a recent tennis match, would manage the eleven-mile famine walk to Doolough.

How trivial an ‘injury’ in the context of the 1849 tragedy the walk commemorates.  Hundreds of starving men, women and children, ordered to tramp those eleven miles to Delphi Lodge, were denied an audience, let alone the relief they sought, by the men of power.  Many died by the roadside on their despairing return trail.

Afri’s Famine Walk happens each May, but this was a re-enactment for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ series.  Local historian Mary O’Malley painted a poignant scene around her own family story, and Joe Murray set the context of Afri’s work for justice, human rights and sustainability. 

Yours truly was to handle ‘the broader history’; thank goodness for Cork University Press’s superb Atlas of the Great Irish Famine!  Its unique blend of scholarly analysis and humane reflection dispelled some of my clouds of ignorance about that great lacuna in our history and culture.

The Atlas breaks the twin silences of the survivors and the scholars, whilst respecting the irrevocable silence of the over one million victims.  It allowed me to sketch some of the broader background to Doolough’s tragedy, along with some nuggets of salutary and surprising information.

Things I never knew: fish and seafood did form part of the pre-Famine fare of those who could obtain them.  Ireland’s potato-based diet, though fatally precarious, made the pre-Famine population healthier than the European average.

By the Nineteenth Century almost all major Irish towns were ports.  Westport had nearly half its population in manufacture in 1821 – but in cottage and artisan production which soon drowned in the tide of new imported factory commodities.  (more…)

The Standing Rock Water Protectors

Below is a short film, made by RoJ, about the Standing Rock Water Protectors, following a visit by Chas Jewett to Dublin.  To read more about Chas’ visit go here.

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Adopted

Press Release from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, on the 7th July  2017 states at the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a prohibition treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their intentional or accidental detonation. Biological weapons were banned in 1972 and chemical weapons in 1992.

On adoption of the treaty, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said:

“We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security.

No one believes that indiscriminately killing millions of civilians is acceptable – no matter the circumstance – yet that is what nuclear weapons are designed to do.

Today the international community rejected nuclear weapons and made it clear they are unacceptable.

It is time for leaders around the world to match their values and words with action by signing and ratifying this treaty as a first step towards eliminating nuclear weapons.” (more…)

Protest during visit of Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau

From left to right: Lisa Patten, Andy Storey, Joe Murray and Gráinne O’Neill at the Stop CETA protest on the 4th July 2017. Photo: Derek Speirs

A protest took place today outside Government Buildings to coincide with the visit of Canadian Premier Trudeau. The protest was in opposition to the proposed EU Canadian Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement and to call for the rejection of the deal by the Irish Government.

The protest was organised by Comhlamh and supported by Afri and participants expressed concerns as to how CETA will compromise laws which protect health,  the environment, and the rule of law in the EU.

Participants also urged the Government to hold off on any vote to ratify the deal until the European Court of Justice examines the legality of CETA under EU law. Protestors are particularly alarmed by the notorious Investment Arbitration System, included in the deal, which allows foreign big business to sue Governments when their actions impact on their profitability.

The Water Protectors

Chas Jewett, Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Water Protector. Photo by Derek Speirs

Chas Jewett, from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Standing Rock Water protector, spoke in the Teacher’s Club on Monday evening at an event supported by Afri, Comhlamh, Feasta and Friends of the Earth.  This public meeting was part of a tour around Ireland visiting Cork, Galway, Cloughjordan, Leitrim and Dublin.  Chas is a tribal organiser who lives in Rapid City, South Dakota, and aims to encourage people to engage and mobilise.

Since 2016 the Standing Rock Reservation has been the scene of a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline which aims to bring oil from Canada into the US through Native American lands over fears of contamination of drinking water supplies.  The existing Keystone 1 pipeline has leaked 26 times.  

Chas spoke about the legacy issues of the 19th century treaties between the U.S. government and the First Nations people.  In 1873 General Custer found gold in the Black Hills which led to people being moved – without compensation – and separated into various different reservations, one of which is the Standing rock reservation.   (more…)

Short film about the 2017 Afri Famine Walk in Mayo

For 30 years Afri has walked the famine road through the Doolough Valley in County Mayo. It is a walk like no other, abounding in memory, music, history, solidarity and spectacular beauty; retracing the steps of the dispossessed of the past and forging solidarity with the banished and oppressed of today.

The 2017 walk linked the experience of Irish people fleeing on coffin ships or being condemned to workhouses during An Gorta Mór in the nineteenth century with those crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy, rickety boats today, some of whom, if they survive, may end up in Direct Provision Centres for asylum seekers in Ireland.

A short film of the walk was made by RoJ (see above)

Creating Alternative Food Futures

A short film made by RoJ about the Food Sovereignty event held in NUI Maynooth in April.

The Water Protectors

Venue: The Teacher’s Club, Parnell Square

Date:  Monday, June 26th

Time: 8pm

Standing Rock was a beacon of hope for the world where indigenous people from all over the United States came together to resist corporate power and protect the water that is their life.  Chas Jewett is one of those protectors.  This public meeting will draw out the links between the Standing Rock action and threats to water in Ireland and worldwide and the need to continue protecting our water and our planet.

Speakers:

Chas Jewett, Standing Rock Water Protector & Cheyenne River Sioux

Oisín Coghlan, Director, Friends of the Earth, Ireland

Speaker (tbc) from anti-fracking group, Love Leitrim

 

Organised by Afri, Comhlamh, Feasta and Friends of the Earth Ireland

Significant Move Towards Ban on Fracking Welcomed by Afri

Outside Leinster House following the passing of the private members bill (presented by Tony McLoughlin TD for Sligo-Leitrim)
banning fracking from Ireland. Here members of ‘Love Leitrim’ and supporters who campaigned to have fracking banned. Photo by Derek Speirs.

31st May 2017

Afri has welcomed the completion of the Bill to ban fracking which today passed all stages in the Dáil and will now go to the Seanad. “This is a victory for people power and for community resistance”, according to Joe Murray. Afri would especially like to congratulate Love Leitrim who led this persistent, determined and successful campaign.

We also pay tribute to the community in Rossport for the part they played in this success as it was John Monaghan who first alerted the community in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, to the dangers of fracking and who urged the community to organise and resist.

Film by Dearbhla Glynn on fracking

“Seeking asylum is by no means criminal”

Donnah Vuma speaks at the beginning of the 2017 Afri Famine Walk. Photo Derek Speirs

“I feel humbled and yet honoured to be here today.  I have found it a challenge to say a few words, I actually wanted to say no without giving this a thought, but remembered those that have walked this path before, the people that sacrificed their lives to seek relief for the masses of their village, they did not second guess themselves they took the challenge with swiftness, in the worst of weather and on empty stomachs with nothing but the will to survive.

Thank you to Action from Ireland (Afri) for finding a way of awakening the world at large, to spare time and resources to commemorate this event. In whatever part of the world we may be, we need to remember those that are treated with injustice and inequality for the sake of their political opinions, religion, race and gender. We also need to remember the thousands of families — including infants and the elderly fleeing war and violence in Syria who have to walk more than 1,400 miles to get to Serbia’s border with Hungary in hope of finding peace and a future. Above all, we need to remember those that sacrificed their lives fleeing on coffin ships or those who were condemned to workhouses during the great Irish Famine (An Gorta Mór). (more…)

Reflections from the 30th annual Famine Walk

Reflections on the 30th Famine Walk from Rob Fairmichael

‘Music from A Dark Lake’ – CD of music from the Doolough Famine Walk available to buy from Afri now! Buy online at www.afri.ie/donate or contact us directly

On 20th May 2017 a couple of hundred people set out  on the 11 mile walk from Doolough/Delphi Lodge for Louisburgh in bright, early summer weather, and it remained dry and bright. They had earlier heard Joe Murray, Danny Cusack and Donnah Vuma speak, and Joe Black sing. The theme, of this the 30th annual walk, was not just the commemoration involved in the Famine Walk but the inhumanity of the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers in Ireland today which treats people not as human beings but as numbers. A tree was planted in Delphi Lodge which again welcomed walkers, a stunning contrast to 1849. These are The Facts.

But what about The Feelings? Every walker has their own feelings, their own reason for undertaking this 11 mile walk.  Remembrance and commemoration are the principal reasons and some people would fast during the walk as an act of solidarity. There is also the challenge of a long walk, and if people are not able then a shuttle car takes them onward. There is beautiful scenery, interesting conversation – on the theme or everything else under the sun – and interaction with others. Those who stay in Louisburgh for the evening enjoy ceol, ól agus craic. But for most being there is also a physical statement of their commitment to justice and peace in the world today. (more…)

Remembering; Celebrating; Solidarity

Find out who is going on facebook here.

Famine Walk 2017: From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

‘Bog Cotton’ by Choctaw artist Waylon (Gary) White Deer. The painting, among other things, features the Workhouse and the Direct Provision Centre.

From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

Saturday 20th May, Doolough Co. Mayo

Registration from 12.45pm in Louisburgh Town hall

Beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Donnah Vuma, Abjata Khalif, Danny Cusack

Music: Joe Black

***Register online here***

See also 2017 Famine Walk brochure

For 30 years Afri has walked the famine road through the Doolough Valley in County Mayo. It is a walk like no other, abounding in memory, music, history, solidarity and spectacular beauty; retracing the steps of the dispossessed of the past and forging solidarity with the banished and oppressed of today. 

Extraordinary people have walked this road over three decades and extraordinary stories have been told: stories of food and famine; of oppression and denial of human rights; of wars, violence and the impact of climate change; but also stories of courage and determination; of inspiration, illumination and motivation. And music, song and theatre from some of our greatest artists have been integral parts of every walk. (more…)

Creating Alternative Food Futures: Food Sovereignty in Ireland and Beyond

Venue: Maynooth University

Date: April 13th 2017

Time: 10am to 3.30pm

Please confirm attendance by emailing foodsovmaynooth@gmail.com

April 17 is the International Day of Peasant Struggle – a day to recognize and acknowledge the difficulties faced by diverse food producers amidst a world in which one-tenth of humanity experiences hunger. There is no better time of the year to discuss and debate how we can create alternative food futures in Ireland and beyond. Whether by adopting food sovereignty or some other framework, at issue is finding ways for urban and rural dwellers, peasants, landless people, small-scale farmers, and coastal communities to work on mechanisms that can nourish and empower food producers and consumers like never before. The task to is identify and raise the profile of projects and practices that might build a sustainable, democratic, and just food system. During this one-day event held at Maynooth University, we invite attendees to contribute and share their experiences about creating alternative food futures. (more…)

Reflections from Féile Bríde 2017: Darkness to Light

Speakers U.S. peace activist Kathy Kelly (second from right) and Scottish author and campaigner Alastair McIntosh (right) together with Afri Co-ordinator Joe Murray and Brigidine sister Rita Minehan at the 2017 Féile Bríde conference in Kildare on Saturday 4th February 2017. Photo: Dave Donnellan

When we look at the many problems confronting our world, we can sometimes think that things are worse than ever and that little progress has been made towards creating a more just and compassionate world.  But it is important that we keep in mind the progress made, as well as the challenges that continue to face us.

When we held our first Féile Bríde in 1988, apartheid was still in place in South Africa, the conflict in the North of Ireland was still raging with nightly reports of deaths and injuries and East Timor was under the jack boot of Indonesian occupation.   (more…)

The Hungry Grass

Students from Beneavin De La Salle College, Finglas Dublin are given a tour of the Dunshaughlin Famine Graveyard and Workhouse and are told harrowing stories of the poorest people from days gone by. Afterwards they are honoured by Kathy Kelly who shares her amazing experiences fighting for justice and peace. Pete Mullineaux then holds a conscious workshop where the students are asked to demonstrate all the good things the world has to offer.

Funded by WorldWise Global Schools

Date for your diary: 30th Afri Famine Walk

Donncha O Dulaing (centre) leads the first Famine Walk in 1988

Thirty years on the ‘Famine Road’ have generated many memorable moments and iconic images.  On the first walk in 1988, walk leader Donncha O Dulaing arrived by helicopter to join Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison in the Philippines, and Mayo woman Caitriona Ruane, recently  returned from  Central America, before leading us off  on the first ‘chapter’ of this extraordinary journey.

The following year, Brian Willson, having lost both legs while attempting to stop a train delivering arms from the US to Central America, was applauded as he bravely crossed the finishing line.

Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah were almost blown away with the force of the gale that blew up when they led the walk in 1991.  It helped us all to understand a little better how it would’ve been for the hungry poor of 1849.

The voices of Juana Vasquez and Dario Caal, representing the Maya from Guatemala, echoed off the mountains as they spoke at the edge of Doolough about the importance of solidarity and how they believed they were walking with the spirits of our ancestors through the sacred Doolough valley in 1995.

And then the gates of Delphi Lodge were opened to the walk in 2013.  We walked through the gates solemnly carrying the names of those who had died in the tragedy of 1849 and the names of those who died of hunger in our own day, in our world of plenty.  We planted an oak tree, we planted potatoes supplied by Willie Corduff of Rossport and we listened to the deeply emotional rendition of ‘Connacht Orphan’ sung by its author, Declan O’Rourke.

Join us for the 30th Walk on May 20th 2017 where more extraordinary moments are sure to be generated.

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Afri’s annual Doolough Famine Walk was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ show and was selected as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Pick of the Week’ on Sunday 19th February.  Listen to the show here.

To register online go here or check out our facebook event page.  If you  are planning on doing the Famine Walk please contact the Afri office for a sponsorship card – admin@afri.ie or 01 8827563.

 

General Information

  • Please assemble in Louisburgh for registration at 12.45pm. 
  • There will be an approximately 15 min opening ceremony, including speakers and music – this is a very important part of the Famine Walk and we would encourage all participants to be present for this part of the event.
  • Buses will bring walkers to start point from 1.30pm. 
  • A tree will be planted at the start of the walk at the Famine Memorial in Delphi Lodge before walkers return to Louisburgh. 
  • There is no parking available at Delphi Lodge. 
  • The walk is approximately 11 miles (18 km) and a shuttle car will be available along the route if needed.
  • Comfortable shoes, raingear and water are strongly recommended.
  • Tea/coffee (but not food) will be provided at a halfway point along the way.  There will also be toilet facilities at the halfway point as well as along the lake.
  • IN THE INTEREST OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, PLEASE WALK ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR THE DURATION OF THE WALK.

Sponsorship

We are asking participants to consider raising sponsorship for Afri, so that we can continue our important work.  If you would like to do so, please get in touch with the Afri office and we will post you out a sponsorship card.  If you would prefer not to raise sponsorship you can register online here or pay €24 on the day – which includes the registration fee and cost of the bus to the start of the walk.

White Silence Equals Violence

Peace Activist Kathy Kelly (left) with Nuria Mustafa (Centre) and Jack Hynes (right) at Afri’s 2003 Famine Walk in Mayo.

 

White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting a Verdict
by Kathy Kelly

January 25, 2017

This morning, here in Minneapolis, I’ll learn whether six jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dan Wilson and I are criminals.  The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex. Two Minneapolis police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were involved in the shooting. Jamar Clark died after a bullet was fired directly into his head. Several witnesses say that he was handcuffed and motionless when he was shot dead. The police officers have been cleared of all charges and are back on the job.

Dan and I are among 25 defendants charged with obstructing a Minneapolis Metro transit vehicle on April 11, the opening day of the Minnesota Twins baseball season.  The Legal Rights Center lawyers working with us arranged a calendar so that small groups would be tried weekly.  Earlier this month, two people were acquitted of all charges and one person has been convicted. Two days ago, Andrew Gordon and Priyanka Premo, lawyers from the Minneapolis Legal Rights Center who are representing Dan and me, began the jury selection process. Yesterday, evidence was presented and the six-person jury was asked to determine a verdict. The jury didn’t arrive at a verdict last night. We felt grateful they are not rushing to judgement on what many would see as a cut and dry case. The prosecution presented, as evidence, a photo of me standing, arms linked with others, in front of a bus. (more…)