Blood Fruit

i Jul 15th Comments Off by
At the premiere of "Blood Fruit" in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O'Brien (film director), Cathryn O'Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

At the premiere of “Blood Fruit” in Galway: (from left to right) Theresa Mooney, Karen Gearon, Sinead O’Brien (film director), Cathryn O’Reilly, Liz Deasy, Michelle Gavin, Sandra Griffin, Joe Murray (Afri) and Mary Manning.

Members of Afri were delighted to attend the premiere of ‘Blood Fruit’ in Galway recently. Director Sinead O’Brien has ensured that the eventual telling of this extraordinary story on the big screen was worth the long wait. The film recounts the story of ten exceptional young workers in Dunnes Stores in Henry Street who took the courageous decision to refuse to handle ‘the fruits of apartheid’ in 1984. This decision was to have major consequences for the workers themselves – being locked out for more than 2 years – and internationally as the story became known around the world. It resulted in a rare and amazing victory when the Irish Government banned the importation of fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

The film relays the experience of the daily drudgery on the picket line as well as their invitation to address the UN, their meeting with Desmond Tutu en route to receive the Nobel Peace prize and their abortive visit to South Africa where they were held by armed police before being sent home on the next plane. This is a compelling and inspiring story which should be compulsory viewing for people of all ages, reflecting what is best in human nature – the ability to empathise with the suffering of others even in faraway places and to express solidarity to the point of making a real and significant difference.

Nelson Mandela had said that the action of the strikers had helped him during his imprisonment and, in a message sent to the strikers via Afri for the premiere, Archbishop Tutu saluted them, describing them as ‘a beacon of hope’ and ‘part of the history of South Africa’s struggle for freedom’.

Afri supports Palestinian Appeal for Solidarity and Humanitarian Intervention

i Jul 15th Comments Off by

The on-going humanitarian crisis in Gaza has in recent times once more reached such a level of frenzied depravity that it is too easy to become frozen in a kind of shocked paralysis. The fact that it comes amidst a persecution by the Israeli powers of the Palestinian people that has spanned many decades and the earthly lives of countless Palestinian souls, makes it seem all the more unjust and no less intensely disturbing.

Horribly stuck in a traumatic historical time warp, it is as if the crimes of past wars have achieved the ultimate victory over humanity by the perpetuation of these same crimes by their victims on other human beings.

The parallels between the terrible crime against humanity that was the genocide of the Jewish and other people by the Nazi regime, and the crimes against humanity and apparent genocide being conducted by Israel against the Palestinian people today, are so obvious that it seems redundant to even speak of them.

Yet in the face of an impotent international political system and an international community that, for the most part, remains resolutely silent in the face of such crimes, then failing to speak of these parallels (when recognising the sovereignty of all life) is a kind of treason: a betrayal not just of innocent Palestinian civilians but of humanity everywhere. (more…)

Afri alarmed by Irish companies supplying US army and military industry

i Jul 8th Comments Off by

 

Members of Afri outside the company headquarters of D.G. Total Engineering Solutions in Ratoath highlighting the company's supplying of forensic equipment to Abu Ghraib in Baghdad.  Photo: Dave Donnellan

Members of Afri outside the company headquarters of D.G. Total Engineering Solutions in Ratoath highlighting the company’s supplying of forensic equipment to Abu Ghraib in Baghdad. Photo: Dave Donnellan

Press release

The justice and peace group Afri has expressed alarm at the extent to which Irish companies are involved in supplying military equipment, including to the US army. Afri first brought this issue of Irish participation in  the military industry to light when it published the ‘Links’ Report in 1996, demonstrating the early stages of this trend of supplying such components.

Afri condemns the practice of companies making profits on the back of human suffering and misery caused by war and violence. Irish companies are supplying components, including parts for drones to one of the most aggressive military forces on the planet, the US army, which has been involved in the slaughter of tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. This, along with the use of Shannon as a war-port, places Ireland ever closer to the heart of the US war machine. (more…)

Airing Erris 3: Focus on policing

i Jul 7th Comments Off by
Willie Corduff speaking as Denis Halliday (right) looks on.  Photo: Brian Fitzpatrick

Willie Corduff speaking as Denis Halliday (right) looks on. Photo: Brian Fitzpatrick

The third episode in the “Airing Erris” series was held yesterday in Ceathrú Thaidhg in Erris, County Mayo.  This episode focussed on policing and included contributions from former UN assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, Goldman Environmental prize winner Willie Corduff, former Garda and Human Rights Monitor Bernard McCabe, peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy and investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty.  Garda Whistleblower John Wilson, also attended, and spoke about his experiences of Garda corruption.

The event was livestreamed by Atlantic Livestream and can be watched again here.

Lorna Siggins also wrote an article about the event in the Irish Times: Ex-UN official calls for presidential commission to investigate Garda

An International Ban on Killer Robots is needed now

i Jul 2nd Comments Off by

Noel Sharkey, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield, has said an international ban must be put in place now, before one country starts using them in conflict, opening the door to others to follow suit.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, Professor Sharkey noted that so far no nation has openly used entirely autonomous aircraft, submarines, surface vessels or tanks that are capable of tracking, selecting, targeting and deploying weapons entirely by themselves and based on algorithms. However,  such systems are already being developed by a number of countries, including the US, China, Israel, Taiwan and Russia. However,  because they have not yet been used, an opportunity is there to ban them before nations race to develop and start using them.

To read more: click here

Professor Sharkey was also interviewed about the Campaign to Ban Killer Robots on RTE: click here

Gerry Conlon Address at Chelsea Manning Solidarity Event

i Jun 24th Comments Off by

In Autumn of 2013, Afri was approached by Ciaron O’Reilly and asked if we would host a visit to Ireland by the family of Chelsea Manning. We were, of course, delighted to do so and to organise a Solidarity meeting in Trinity College onNovember 29th. Among the speakers at that meeting was Gerry Conlon who gave this profoundly moving and passionate address.

Airing Erris 3: Sunday July 6th

i Jun 18th Comments Off by

Airing Erris 3 with a special message from Desmond Tutu and featuring Willie Corduff, Denis Halliday, Margaretta D’Arcy, Bernard McCabe and Gemma O’Doherty will take place in Erris on 6th July. The event will be live-streamed by Atlantic Stream via the following link:
https://new.livestream.com/AtlanticStreamAiring Erris_3_Final (Custom)

Call for a Public Inquiry into the Policing of the Shell/Corrib Gas Project

i Jun 17th Comments Off by

We support the recent demands for an inquiry into allegations of systemic Garda corruption and violence. We believe any such inquiry should include the Shell/Corrib pipeline police operation in North West Mayo. This is one of the longest running police operations in the history of the Irish state and has drawn critical attention from national and international human rights organisations [1] since 2006 over the alleged violence and intimidation used by Gardaí against campaigners.

In 2007, campaigners submitted complaints en masse against the Gardaí to the newly established Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). Out of the 111 complaints received by GSOC between May 2007 and November 2009, 78 were deemed admissible and 7 sent to the DPP. The DPP rejected prosecution in all 7 cases. The majority of campaigners have since stopped submitting complaints to GSOC. In 2010, complaints from 400 Kilcommon residents were submitted to Shell’s Belmullet office detailing the “escalating physical and psychological harassment” continuing in the area. In 2012, residents again submitted a mass complaint, this time to Mayo County Council, outlining serious grievances arising out of the project, including experiences of private security and state policing, with no result. Any inquiry into the policing of the Shell/Corrib Gas Project cannot ignore the following extract from the minutes of the Shell Committee of Managing Directors meeting held in London 22/23 July 2002: “It was noted that development of the Corrib field may be delayed until 2004 as planning consent had been refused for the terminal. The committee queried whether the Group had sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators. Paul Skinner undertook to explore this issue further in consultation with the Country Chairman in Ireland”. [2]

In 2007, GSOC requested to conduct a “practice, policy and procedure” investigation into the police operation but this was turned down by the then Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan. In 2009, the then Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy ignored recommendations from GSOC that a senior Garda on the operation face disciplinary action. The following year, two officers on secondment to GSOC tasked with addressing the body of complaints in relation to the policing of the Shell/Corrib gas project gave their apologies to campaigners before returning to New Zealand. In 2011, following the tape controversy, in which members of the Gardaí were recorded joking about raping and deporting female protestors, campaigners publicly stated that they believed GSOC’s response to the controversy amounted to “blame the victim” tactics through a campaign of spin and misinformation. Quite understandably, there is now no faith in GSOC as it currently exists and any inquiry by GSOC into the Shell/Corrib gas police operation would be dysfunctional, particularly as this inquiry should include the failings of GSOC. (more…)

Irish Government should promote health, education and overseas aid – not useless weapons of war

i Jun 17th Comments Off by

The justice and peace group Afri have expressed dismay at the revelation that the Irish army plans to spend over €4m on upgrading its air defence missile system. The Army stated that the purpose of the missile system is to “take out enemy aircraft” and elaborated on this unlikely scenario by stating that the missiles in question would “deter hostile actions”.

Extraordinarily, this monumental waste of resources is occurring at the same time as health, education, social welfare and overseas development aid budgets continue to be cut causing intense suffering to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and on our planet.

Afri raises the question as to where the ‘hostile action’ is likely to come from that would require such weapons, suggesting that the real agenda is being set by NATO (towards which Ireland is moving ever closer) with its push towards ‘interoperability’ and aggressive military actions. Where does this fit with Ireland’s traditional neutrality, which has been shown to be strongly supported by Irish people in successive opinion polls? For example, a Red C poll carried out for the Peace and Neutrality Alliance in 2013 showed 78% of people support Irish neutrality, an essential element of which is non-participation in aggressive military alliances and minimal military spending.

Afri calls on the Labour Party in particular to clarify where its priorities lie in terms of such spending. Afri believes that this bizarre decision is representative of why the Labour Party is being wiped out in Government. Labour is clearly not listening to its voters by subscribing to and supporting such obscene choices as spending on missile systems while cutting health, education and overseas development aid.

Date for your Diary: Airing Erris 3, 6th July 2014

i Jun 12th Comments Off by

glengadfrommtnLook out for the 3rd installment of the series of events entitled “Airing Erris”. This event will focus on the policing of the Corrib Gas project and will take place in An tSeanscoil, Ceathrú Thaidhg, Co. Mayo at 1pm on Sunday July 6th.

Further information to follow.

To find out more about the other events in the Airing Erris series:

Airing Erris 1: http://www.afri.ie/news-and-events/airing-erris-the-media-and-shell-corrib-2/

Airing Erris 2: http://www.afri.ie/news-and-events/airing-erris-journalism-has-been-infected-by-corporate-public-relations/