“I became a vegetarian and I started using ‘Ecosia’ as my search engine”, was how Keziah Keenan O’Shea, one of the youngest ever speakers at Féile Bríde described her response to becoming aware of the urgent threat posed by climate change. Keziah was one of two students from Mount Temple School, with which Afri had worked in advance of the Paris Climate Change Conference in order to send a message to world leaders on young people’s concerns about the welfare of our planet.
The other student was Ruairí Atack, who spoke about the link between climate change and militarisation – an often missed link in public discourse. Ruairí spoke about the” incredible levels” of military spending – $1747 billion worth in 2014. The military impact of this was shown in a recent report in the Guardian newspaper stating that: “The Iraq war was responsible for 141m tonnes of carbon releases in its first four years… On an annual basis, this was more than the emissions from 139 countries in this period, or about the same as putting an extra 25m cars on to US roads for a year.” (more…)
Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo
Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm
The first Famine Walk was organised by Afri in 1988 to commemorate the Irish Famine and to make links with famine and hunger which is experienced millions of people throughout the world today.
The famine walk retraces a journey which local people made through the Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo, on 30th – 31st March 1849. The immediate cause of the death march was the arrival of two ‘commissioners’, who were to inspect the people and certify them as paupers, so entitling them to a ration of three pounds of meal each. For some reason the inspection was not made and the hundreds of people were told they must appear at Delphi Lodge (eleven miles away) at 7 am the following morning. They set out on foot along the mountain road and pathway in cold, wintry conditions. When they arrived at Delphi Lodge, they were refused either food or tickets of admission to the workhouse and so they began their weary return journey. It was on this journey that hundreds of people died.
In 2013 the gates of Delphi Lodge were opened, Walkers were welcomed, a tree was planted and a memorial unveiled to those who died in 1849. Delphi Lodge is now an integral part of the Famine Walk. The Walk is one of solidarity and remembrance and includes music, reflections and finished with ceol agus craic in a local pub.
**More details on the walk will be posted closer to the time.**
Photo of 2012 Famine Walk by Derek Speirs.
“One of the problems about the debate on climate change is that people keep speaking in the future tense…about what will happen to our children and our grandchildren. Unfortunately, however, climate change is not a future tense issue, it’s a real and present danger. Another myth is that climate change only affects countries of the Global South. While it is true that countries in the southern hemisphere are among the most seriously affected, it is also having a profound effect on all countries, including Ireland.
Anyone who doubts this would only need to have travelled through Ireland over the weekend to see the floods that have laid waste to much of the country. Severe flooding is now occurring with a regularity and intensity not seen before, while response of our governments has been less that inspiring, to say the least. Enda Kenny’s response is to twiddle his thumbs and speak out of both sides of his mouth. Enda’s performance at the Climate Conference in Paris was particularly cynical – delivering one message to the conference and the opposite one for the benefit of the Irish Farmers Association, which itself is mired in controversy over inflated salaries and corruption at the highest level. Meanwhile the North of Ireland remains the only part of Ireland or Britain with no legislation to tackle climate change.
The message is clear: we cannot wait for our governments to act on such a crucial issue. We, the people, must lead and they will be forced to follow.”
~ Joe Murray, Afri Co-ordinator
Saturday 6th February in Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town
The recent Climate Conference in Paris, while lacking binding commitments, marked a milestone in terms of governments of the world coming together and recognising the seriousness of the situation and the need to tackle climate change. Even more important, in advance of, and during, the conference an unprecedented demonstration of people power was witnessed. Post-Paris it is clear that this people power needs to continue and grow, that it is up to citizens of the world, we the people, to take responsibility and ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. This is a time of opportunity and Féile Bríde will explore what can be done – and what is already being done – by ordinary people to save our planet.
10.30am: Gathering at the Well (adjacent to Irish National Stud) for walk to Solas Bhríde
The arrival of the Flame & words of welcome
Music by Imogen Gunner and friends
11.30am: Farming and forestry – Alan Matthews
12.15pm: After Paris and the Climate Change Bill – What now? – Oisin Coghlan
1pm: Sustaining a Climate of Peace – Young People’s Perspective
Ruairí Atack & Keziah Keenan-O’Shea, students from Mount Temple Comprehensive School, Dublin
1.30pm: Lunch and tree planting
2.30pm: The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Gráinne’s corner
Gráinne O’Neill explores the exciting things that are already happening to tackle the urgent issue of climate change.
Music by RoJ Whelan and friends
Short inputs from Baltinglass Community Garden, Cloughjordan Eco-Village, Cabragh Wetlands, Dublin Cycling Campaign, Irish Seedsavers Association, and well as information about vegetarianism, solar panels and more…
3.30pm: Tea break
3.45pm: A Time of Opportunity – music and reflections
You can also download the Féile Bríde Brochure.
Feíle Bríde is part of a week-long series of events taking place in Kildare organized by the Brigidine Sisters and Cairde Bríde. Further information can be found here. Organized by Afri in partnership with St. Patrick’s Missionary Society Kiltegan and Cairde Bríde
Japanese Government Must Not Sign the Japan-India Nuclear Agreement: We Demand Peace Diplomacy Befitting the A-Bombed Country
Yasui Kazumasa, Secretary General, Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)
December 15, 2015
On December 12, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo issued a Joint Statement with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announced that they had agreed in principle to conclude a bilateral agreement for cooperation in nuclear energy.
However, India is a nuclear country which in 1998 openly went nuclear by developing and testing nuclear weapons, and continues to refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The government of the A-bombed Japan must not offer nuclear technology to such a country and give a helping hand to its development of nuclear weapons. The Japan-India nuclear agreement should not be signed. (more…)
Afri funded and coordinated a group of anti-fracking activists from Spain and the UK to come to Ireland on a four day visit over the weekend of November 27th 2015. Their visit began with them giving a talk in Dublin, hosted by the Worker’s Solidarity Movement in Jigsaw. The following day they made their way to Co Leitrim and on to Fermanagh to meet members of the anti fracking group LAMP (Letterbreen and Mullaghdun Partnership). A visit to the site of the planned exploratory well in Belcoo followed before the main event Making the Connections, Fracking No!
Making the Connections, Fracking No! took place in The Glens Centre in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim on November 28th, bringing together anti fracking activists from northern Spain, England and Ireland in an evening of theatre, singing, discussion, music and dancing.
Donal O’ Kelly performed his awarding winning one man show ‘Fionnuala’, in which the human rights abuses perpetrated at the hands of Shell during the Corrib Gas Project in Erris, Co Mayo are starkly conjured up. Spanish surtitles accompanied the performance to critical acclaim and oddly timed laughter!
Next up came the Kidz from the Glen who sang an anti-fracking song called Stand Up for Ireland written by Michael Mc Loughlin. (more…)
As the world drifts deeper and deeper into war, wreaking havoc on families, communities and our planet the actions of people like Mick Wallace and Clare Daly in attempting to put on the brakes should be applauded and commended – not penalised. Wars facilitated by Shannon have helped to destabilise areas in the Middle East and beyond, created the anger contributing to the rise of IS/Daesh and unleashed the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War
It is extraordinary that perpetrators of war and destruction can parade through Shannon unhindered while those who are opposed to war are arrested, demonised and imprisoned. The actions of Mick Wallace and Clare Daly should be a wake-up call to the Irish Government to reverse the shredding of the last remnants of our neutrality and end the use of Shannon for war and destruction.
12th December 2015
Afri joined with St. Columb’s Park House in Derry for the launch of their ‘Campaigning Communities’ initiative on December 3rd 2015. This project aims to support communities who are campaigning around a broad range of justice and peace issues. As part of the launch, Donal O’Kelly performed his award winning play Fionnuala about the community resisting Shell in Erris, Co. Mayo, who are an inspiration to many communities throughout Ireland.
Director of St. Columb’s Park House, Helen Henderson, opened the proceedings with a profoundly insightful reflection entitled ‘Spaceship Earth’, which was followed by an introduction to the ‘Campaigning Communities’ initiative by its co-ordinator Nuala Crilly. Joe Murray also spoke, referring to some of the significant campaigns in which Afri have been involved – such as the Dunnes Stores Strike, East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign and supporting the community resistance in Erris. The evening concluded with a rousing medley of protest songs performed by Paddy Nash and Diane Greer.
The following day, Afri’s former Development Education Co-ordinator, Rose Kelly, travelled from Moville to St. Columb’s Park House with around 30 pupils from Rang a 4 to launch her book Pathways of Peace and to plant a tree, donated by the Woodland Trust, in honour of the occasion. These were an exceptionally talented group of students who had written and performed their own song as well as sharing their own reflections and poetry on care for the planet. They even drew inspiration from the haka – made famous by the New Zealand rugby team – to convey a message of hope and peace!
Pathways of Peace is an excellent development education resource, comprising stories of the lives of inspirational young people and the example of peace and justice that they have embodied. The resource includes their stories as well as suggested activities for use in the classroom. This resource is now available to buy from Afri.
Afri attended the Climate March in Dublin on the 29th November to join with people around the world who were marching ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris calling on world leaders to take immediate action on climate change.
Film by Dave Donnellan
Afri Coordinator, Joe Murray stated, “One of the problems about the debate on climate change is that people keep speaking in the future tense…about what will happen to our children and our grandchildren. Unfortunately, however, climate change is not a future tense issue, it’s a real and present danger. Another myth is that climate change only affects countries of the Global South. While it is true that countries in the southern hemisphere are among the most seriously affected, it is also having a profound effect on all countries, including Ireland.
The message is clear: we cannot wait for our governments to act on such a crucial issue. We, the people, must lead and they will be forced to follow.”
After the March Afri and Food Sovereignty Ireland launched the Food Sovereignty Proclamation at the Department of Agriculture. Food Sovereignty is an effective response to the challenges posed to food systems by climate change. To read the proclamation and to sign it you can visit the Food Sovereignty Ireland website here.
The 2015 Hedge School was held in IT Blanchardstown and the focus this year was on climate change and its impact on human rights. Students from the Social and Community Development Course, with the guidance of their lecturer, Liam McGlynn, had been preparing for the Hedge School for several weeks and students were actively involved in contributing to all aspects of the day – including workshops on the theme of climate change and human rights as well as registration of attendees, creating a short film on climate change and organising the above action: “act now or pay later”.
As well as the students’ contributions, Maitet Ledesma from IBON International, spoke eloquently about the impact of climate change in the Philippines as well as the lead into the Paris conference on climate change. This was followed by a debate between Oisin Coghlan of Friends of the Earth and Harold Kingston from the Irish Farmers’ Association on the impact of Irish Agriculture on the climate. Harold was arguing that the Irish climate is best suited for growing grass – which is then used in dairy or beef farming. He also maintained that the targets set by the EU were unrealistic. Oisin on the other hand, refuting this, stated that targets are essential to drive action to tackle climate change and held that the government weren’t even trying to meet the 2020 EU targets in order to get easier targets for 2030. Oisin also held that Ireland needs to do its fair share to tackle climate change and should not be looking for special exemptions. The debate was chaired by Afri chair Nessa Ní Chasaide.
After lunch Donal O’Kelly drew parallels between the nonviolent environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa and Frederick Douglass, a freed slave, in a dramatic piece. The day of the Hedge School itself coincided with the 20th anniversary of the hanging of the Ogoni 9 – of which Ken Saro Wiwa was part – by the Nigerian military dictatorship with the collusion of Shell. At the beginning of the day a candle was lit by one of the IT students – who is from Nigeria – in memory of the Ogoni 9.
The day concluded with a world cafe – an opportunity for all participants to reflect on how they felt about climate change – hopeful, angry, despairing and so on – and a chance to mingle with those who felt differently.
Afri would like to thank ITB and in particular Liam McGlynn for hosting the 2015 Hedge School
For the past several weeks Afri has been working with students in Mount Temple School in Dublin on an exciting film and music project. Our aim was to prepare a strong message to send to World leaders who will gather in Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change on November 30th. This meeting is critically important for our world and for the future of all of us.
We are very pleased with the outcome of our work – this short film represents the creativity, passion and hope of a new generation – young people who can see the madness of destroying our planet through war, violence and an insatiable addiction to fossil fuels… and who are ready and willing to do what they can to bring about change.
Please spread this message far and wide.
Students At U2’s Former School Send Powerful Message To World Leaders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJaa8Xk57CM via @AfriPeace #ClimateMarch #Cop21
Letter from Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa – one of the Ogoni 9. The 10th November 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the execution of the Ogoni 9 by the military dictatorship in Nigeria, with the collusion of Shell.
I do remember, with pride, the famine walk in 2006. It was emotional and fulfilling. I remember the inspiring speeches, the sacrifices of Christy and Vincent. Thank you for giving me the opportunity during the walk to share experiences with the people of Rossport and the wider community in Erris County Mayo.
Nov 10 2015 marks 20 years of the killing of my brother and 8 Ogoni activists.
A study by the United Nations Environment Programme has shown that, despite the fact that no oil production has taken place in Ogoniland since 1993, oil spills continue to occur with fierce regularity. The production facilities that Shell used to crowd out farmers and fishermen have fallen to rust and ruin, and neglected, antiquated pipelines continue to leak oil as they snake from other parts of Nigeria through Ogoniland. Fishermen and farmers can no longer make their living or feed their families from the water or the field.
This is the bounty that Shell has brought to the people of Ogoniland. It promised prosperity and a bright tomorrow. When it wants to distract people from the price that will eventually be paid, Shell talks of jobs, crows about its lavish philanthropy and promises that no harm will be done, no chaos left in its wake. I heard these promises in Rossport and I fear that Shell’s bounty in Ogoni may yet be repeated elsewhere.
I am hugely relieved for the people of the Arctic, many of whose families .have lived there for thousands of years, that Shell recently announced it was retreating from Arctic drilling for the foreseeable future.
But this is a company that pantomimes concern and compassion for human beings when its only true concern is for where new money can be found. No doubt Shell’s sights are already set on its next oil field conquest, irrespective of who lives there or their history with that land.
When my brother Ken was executed, his last words were “Lord, take my soul…but the struggle continues.” I hope Ken is watching and seeing that, yes, it does. From Ogoniland to the Arctic, to Erris County Mayo and beyond, people are rising up to say “Shell No!” They are standing strong against a corporation and an entire industry that will mortgage our future for quick profits. I can’t think of a better way to honor my brother.
On Tuesday November 10th 2015 at 6pm, human rights campaigners and environmentalists gathered at Shell’s Irish headquarters to mark the twentieth anniversary of the execution of poet and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others known as the Ogoni 9. The vigil is being organised by Afri and is supported folk singer Christy Moore and Sr. Majella McCarron, an Irish missionary nun from County Fermanagh who was formerly based in Nigeria where she was a friend of Saro-Wiwa.
The Ogoni 9, campaigners against Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta, were executed by hanging in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. In 1996 the U.S based Center for Constitutional Rights sued Shell for its complicity in human right abuses against the Ogoni people, including collusion in bringing about the deaths of the Ogoni 9. In June 2009, on the eve of the trial, a settlement of $15.5 million was made to establish a trust on behalf of the Ogoni people. Shell continues to face fierce criticism for the environmental and health legacy they have left in Ogoniland. (Ref: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/shell-oil-nigeria-ken-saro-wiwa-niger-delta )
Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother Owens, speaking about his brother’s death has said that he fears lessons have not been learned.
“Shell talks of jobs and progress, crows about its lavish philanthropy and promises that no harm will be done, no chaos left in its wake. I heard these promises in Rossport and I fear that Shell’s bounty in Ogoni may yet be repeated elsewhere. This is a company that pantomimes concern and compassion for human beings when its only true concern is for where new money can be found. No doubt Shell’s sights are already set on its next oil field conquest, irrespective of who lives there or their history with that land.”
“When my brother Ken was executed, his last words were “Lord, take my soul…but the struggle continues.” I hope Ken is watching and seeing that, yes, it does. From Ogoniland to the Arctic, to Erris County Mayo and beyond, people are rising up to say “Shell No!” They are standing strong against a corporation and an entire industry that will mortgage our future for quick profits.”
Joe Murray, organiser of the vigil and Director of human rights and peace organisation Afri, agrees that there is a clear parallel between Ogoniland and Mayo.
“Just as Shell colluded with the military dictatorship in Nigeria, the Irish State has colluded with Shell in bribing, bullying and intimidating the community in Kilcommon into accepting a monument to fossil fuels at a time when climate change threatens the very survival of our planet. The Corrib gas project, in which Statoil is also a partner, has been a disaster for human rights, civil liberties and the environment. The natural gas giveaway has already resulted in a very bad deal the Irish taxpayer.”
Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport 5 who spent 94 days in prison at the behest of Shell, says the community in Erris remember the Ogoni 9 on a daily basis.
“Today, as Shell preaches progress, many miles from their homeland in Nigeria the crosses of the 9 Ogoni heroes stand defiantly in front of the main refinery gate at Ballinaboy as a reminder to Shell that their sins will follow them forever.”
A separate vigil by the Shell to Sea group was held from 12 noon at Shell’s headquarters on 52 Lower Leeson St., Dublin 2.
I.T. Blanchardstown, Room A57
Tuesday 10th November 2015, 9.30am – 4pm
In our history, Hedge Schools were places of learning, continuity and resistance, emerging out of the draconian Penal Laws that forbade formal education to most Irish people. Learning about and resisting the causes of poverty is at the heart of Afri’s work and the Hedge School symbolizes the kind of resilience and creativity needed to address the crisis facing our world as a result of climate change and the obscenity of the war industry.
The 2015 Hedge School will explore the themes of climate change and human rights. This year’s Hedge School is organised in partnership with the students from the Social and Community Development Course from I.T. Blanchardstown.
The 10th November 2015 is the 20th anniversary of the execution of the great nonviolent environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 9. We will be marking this event at the Hedge School.
The first Dromore West area Famine walk took place on Sunday, October 18th at the Dromore West workhouse in West Sligo. The Walk began at St Farnans Shrine, Doonaltonin and after an initial welcome at the Holy Well, walkers made the journey of four miles along country roads back to Dromore West workhouse. Organised by the Afri Choctaw Famine Landscape Project and LEAP Community Project in Easkey, the purpose of the walk is to “commemorate, heal through remembering and stand in solidarity with those who still suffer in a world of plenty” said Máire Nic Fhearraigh, a walk organiser.
The Afri Famine Landscape project has held Famine walks in Derry, Falcarragh, and Ballyshannon. Gary White Deer, a Choctaw, was the walk leader for the West Sligo commemoration. In 1847, the Choctaw donated monies to help feed Irish Famine victims after undergoing similar suffering. “Let’s honour Ireland’s forgotten” said White Deer, referring to the unmarked Famine grave at the Dromore West workhouse. “And then together we can walk into the future remembering others.”
Afri gratefully acknowledges the support of Concern Worldwide
Shannonwatch Press release
The Department of Transport has revealed that in 2014 a total of 272 flights were given permits to take weapons or explosives through Shannon Airport. In response to a freedom of information request by Shannonwatch they confirmed that the majority of the flights were taking US troops between military bases and locations in the Middle East. The information also shows that US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace. Again the majority of these are flying to or from US military bases around the world.
The permits are requested by airline operators under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order. Close to twenty requests were refused in 2014 but the Department would not reveal where these were from or why they were refused. It would only state that they were refused on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“The information provided by the Department shows the alarming level of support that Ireland is giving to US military operations overseas” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. “Over 550 permits were granted to airlines carrying troops, weapons and explosives to their forward operating bases. There would seem to be an overwhelming bias towards facilitating flights from the US and other NATO countries. How can our government claim we are in any way neutral when this is happening?” (more…)
Around thirty people gathered at the Guild Hall on Friday, July 31st 2015 to take part in Derry’s first Famine walk.
Deputy Mayor of Derry city and Strabane District council, Thomas Kerrigan of the DUP officially launched the walk which was also addressed by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Helen Henderson, director of St. Columb’s Park House, spoke about the importance of the walk and the danger of history repeating itself. She warned especially about the dangers of TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, regarding things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations and has been described as “an assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”
Following the opening speeches, walkers proceeded from Guildhall Square across the Peace Bridge to the Londonderry Poor Law Union Workhouse, located on Glendermott Road, the Waterside. First opened in 1840, Derry’s workhouse didn’t close its doors until 1948. The Walk had been called “The Longest Walk”, referring to the 13 steps to the workhouse master’s quarters that starving families once had to climb to ask for admittance. (more…)