Damien Dempsey to lead Dublin Famine Walk

Choctaw Gary White Deer in Glasnevin Cemetery

Choctaw Gary White Deer in Glasnevin Cemetery

A Great Hunger commemoration walk led by Damien Dempsey will proceed from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin Cemetery on Saturday, 27 August, at 2:00 PM. The theme of the walk is “Gan Bia, Gan Beal, Gan Ainm” (Without Food, Without Voice, Without Name) and is being sponsored by Afri.

Glasnevin Cemetery has the largest mass grave in Ireland, with tens of thousands of victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger interred. Names of all Famine victims have been kept in the Glasnevin registry, highly unusual for Famine mass burials. “Through remembering, healing happens” said walk organiser Choctaw Gary White Deer. In 1847, the Choctaw donated monies for Irish Famine relief.

“It’s our duty to pass on the true history, brutal and beautiful, to the children, and they might see they have more in common than they thought with less fortunate people around the world now” Damien Dempsey said. “Everyone is very welcome to come along” he added.

Other walk leaders include: Choctaw Gary White Deer, musician RoJ, and Justine Nantale (Uganda).

The Resistance Continues

Film by RoJ

On Monday July 25th Afri and friends gathered in Dublin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the acquittal of the Pitstop Ploughshares on charges of $US 2.5 million criminal damage of a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport en route to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (more…)

Bloomsday Not Bombsday

Afri staff, volunteers and supporters donned Panama hats on Bloomsday, June 16th, and picketed 30, Botanic Avenue to highlight the fact, revealed in Panama Papers, that a company at this address facilitates commission payments on behalf of major Italian Arms Company Finmeccanica.  See below film about the action.

Film by RoJ

Spirit Felt During Famine Walk

Nóilín Ní Cholla sings sean nós song An Mhaighdean Mhara to walkers at Famine Graveyard in Dunfanaghy

Nóilín Ní Cholla sings sean nós song An Mhaighdean Mhara to walkers at Famine Graveyard in Dunfanaghy

“We were very pleased with this year’s Afri Famine Walk in Northwest Donegal” said Máire Nic Fhearraigh, a walk organiser. “Participants came from as far away as Dublin.”

Called “Seeds of Hope and Remembrance”, the nine-mile journey originated on Saturday 4th June in Dunfanaghy and ended in Falcarragh. Walkers stopped along the way to lay flowers at a Famine mass grave. “When Noleen Ní Cholla sang a beautiful sean nós song at graveside, it stirred something there. Everyone felt the spirit of what we were doing. We carried that spirit with us on our walk” Nic Fhearraigh added. (more…)

“Seeds of Hope and Remembrance” connects with Glenveagh National Park

Chocktaw squash

“Seeds of Hope and Remembrance” is the theme of this year’s Afri Famine walk in Northwest Donegal. “Choctaw heirloom squash seeds will be planted at the community garden in Falcarragh to honour the Choctaw, who helped to feed Famine Ireland” explains Maire Nic Fhearraigh, a walk organiser.  The squash is called issito in the Choctaw language and matures into a large, oblong shape that is bright orange, both inside and out. Sean O Gaoithin, head gardener at Glenveagh National Park recently reflected on the planting of Choctaw squash seeds at Glenveagh and on food security, community gardens and how planting seeds helps us to remember our heritages:

“Heirloom seeds connect us with our histories. In the past twenty years at Glenveagh we’ve collected many plant seeds unique to Donegal and the country, like the Gortahork Cabbage and Irish apples. By growing them we become the keepers of these plants and we connect to our heritage directly, to the biodiversity of this particular place and to our ancestors. By bringing these kinds of plants in and highlighting them in a high profile growing venue, Glenveagh in a sense has become the Botanic Gardens of Donegal.

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Seeds of Hope and Remembrance – Donegal Famine Commemoration Walk

Tony Dalton Falcarragh community gardener receives Choctaw heirloom squash seeds from AFRI organiser Waylon White Deer

Tony Dalton, Falcarragh community gardener, receives Choctaw heirloom squash seeds from Afri organiser, Waylon White Deer

For hundreds of years, Choctaw Indians  raised corn, beans and squash in vast and fertile flood plains,  until the American army evicted them from their ancient homelands on deadly 500-mile forced marches. Not long after, the Choctaw were asked to donate monies to help feed the victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger. They gave what little they had. (more…)

Shamrock Shame

On the 25th May 2016 peace activists and Afri friends, Dave Donnellan and Colm Roddy, entered Shannon airport to inspect illegal U.S. military war planes stationed there. The three security authorities of the Gardaí, Army and airport police all refused to search the planes for weapons in gross dereliction of their duty to protect innocent civilians. Dave and Colm were arrested and charged with criminal damage without lawful excuse. See article about the action here.

Statement from Joe Murray, Coordinator of Afri:  “In light of the courageous faith actions of Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan in exposing Shannon’s bloody role in war, Afri calls on the government to end the use of Shannon as a warport. The consequences of the wars facilitated by Shannon are seen in the chaos in the Middle East region and the tsunami of refugees driven from their homes to which, in turn, Europe and Ireland has ruthlessly closed their borders.”

Film about the action by RoJ

Reflections from the Food Sovereignty Assembly and Famine Walk

The 2016 Famine Walk began at Delphi Lodge, led by walk leaders Cathryn O'Reilly and Clare O'Grady Walshe (the other walk leader not present here is Rafeef Ziadah) among others. Photo by Derek Speirs

The 2016 Famine Walk began at Delphi Lodge, led by walk leaders Cathryn O’Reilly and Clare O’Grady Walshe (the other walk leader not present here is Rafeef Ziadah) among others. Photo by Derek Speirs

Around thirty people gathered for Afri’s 3rd annual food sovereignty assembly, which took place in the town hall in Westport on the 20th May this year to examine food sovereignty issues and to explore what practical steps are necessary to implement the ideas of the Food sovereignty Proclamation which was agreed and posted in 2015.  Among the questions discussed at this year’s event were: how can we accelerate the transition to a low carbon, fair and resilient society?; how can we produce both food and energy in ways that reduce greenhouse gases and their negative impact on the planet? Among the many suggestions was to continue to have April 24th – the actual date of the 1916 Rising – as a food sovereignty day in future years as it was this year.

Rafeef Ziadah speaking during the Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

Rafeef Ziadah speaking during the Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

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Ireland SolidariTree

On the eve of the Afri Famine Walk, Palestinian poet and activist, Rafeef Ziadah, planted an olive tree and an ash tree, sacred trees of Palestine and Ireland, with Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh in attendance. The olive and the ash, together called the SolidariTree, symbolises the bond of support between the people of Ireland and of Palestine. The event was organised by Palfest Ireland.

Film by RoJ

Famine Walk 2016


Mairtín OConnor family

A series of memorable events will take place in Mayo on May 20th and 21st as part of a Famine Walk week-end, organised by Afri.

On Friday, May 20th the 3rd annual ‘Food Sovereignty Assembly’, bringing together people involved in many aspects of growing, distributing and cooking food, will take place in the Town Hall in Westport from 2pm to 6pm.

On Saturday May 21st the Doolough Famine Walk will take on added significance, one hundred years on from the 1916 Rising. Remembering and commemorating acts of resistance in Ireland and abroad have been key themes of the Walk since its inception. (more…)

Food Sovereignty Assembly 2016

Food Sovereignty Assembly 2016 p1 (more…)

Reclaiming the Vision of 1916

Afri's banner visible during the 'Reclaim the Vision of 1916' march and rally. Photo by Derek Speirs

Afri’s banner visible during the ‘Reclaim the Vision of 1916’ march and rally. Photo by Derek Speirs

Afri was invited to take part in the Reclaim the Vision of 1916 event in Dublin on the 24th April 2016, behind the banner, “The Right of the People of Ireland to the Ownership of Ireland” which focused on the ideals behind the 1916 Rising, as distinct from the military dimension which is so heavily emphasised in so many of the state commemorations.  Afri staff carried a banner with the message “Afri rising to the challenge of tackling climate change, abolishing war and restoring Irish neutrality”

Just A Second in Moville

Graphic Harvest produced as part of the Just A Second Schools project in 2015. Drawing by Eimear McNally

Graphic Harvest produced as part of the Just A Second Schools project in 2015. Drawing by Eimear McNally

At the end of April,  Afri’s Co-ordinator Joe Murray and Choctaw Gary White Deer travelled to Moville for a ‘Just a Second’ event, as part of our WorldWise Global Schools Project.  The ‘Just a Second’ educational programme focuses on the absurdity of  in excess of €40,000 being spent every second on war and weapons while a billion people suffer from hunger, lack of clean water and adequate housing.  We began by walking from Moville Community College to the Quays. This was the departure point for many people from Donegal and surrounding areas who  emigrated down through the years, often because of poverty or famine.  We were joined there by Rose Kelly and students from Scoil Eoghain. We had music, poetry and readings focussed on those who are being forced from their their homelands today as a result of poverty, war and climate change. Following this moving event, participants walked back to Moville Community College where we planted a mountain ash together with students and teachers and then had a short seminar touching on issues to do with climate change, militarisation, famine and forced migration. (more…)

Panama Papers show Ireland’s Complicity in the Arms Trade

Afri's Links report from 1996, which detailed Irish companies with links to the arms trade back in the 1990s.Afri has expressed alarm at recent revelations in the Irish Times regarding involvement by Irish-based companies in the international arms trade.

Afri cited as one of the most disturbing revelations in the report the fact that a Drumcondra-based company – Intertrade – has acted for one of the world’s largest arms companies, Finmeccanica, whose products include jet fighters, torpedoes and electronic warfare equipment, which are shipped around the world to cause death and destruction.

The company is also implicated in financial scandals, accused of using bribes worth millions of dollars in relation to arms deals in India and Panama.  The leaks show how Intertrade uses offshore companies to process sales ‘commissions’ – a classic device to hide corrupt payments. (more…)

NATO out of Neutral Ireland

Afri board member, John Maguire, activist Ciaron O'Reilly and Afri Co-ordinator, Joe Murray at a protest action during the Easter weekend

Afri board member, John Maguire, activist Ciaron O’Reilly and Afri Co-ordinator, Joe Murray at a protest action during the Easter weekend

The 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising was commemorated in a number of state events around Easter time and beyond. While it is very important to commemorate the first steps towards Irish independence it is regrettable that such emphasis was placed on the military hardware of the NATO-linked Irish Army today, as distinct from the ideals of the Proclamation, for example. One of the most bizarre events was the presence of a fleet of NATO Warships in Dublin Port over the Easter weekend. As we commemorated the sacking of Dublin City Centre by British warships 100 years earlier, the irony of a British warship among the other NATO vessels seemed to be lost on the Government as well as those queuing to go aboard. It was a striking illustration, nonetheless, of the degree to which Ireland has now abandoned neutrality and locked arms with the former colonial powers and their military escapades and ambitions. Hearing about this at the last minute, Afri organised a small picket and we were joined by anti-war activist Ciaron O’ Reilly who addressed the assembled audience!  Here’s a short film of him speaking at this event below (film by Redjade Magyarországon).

Date for the diary: Famine Walk 2016

Famine Walk 2016 poster

Famine Walk 2016: Memory, Solidarity, Sovereignty

Saturday, May 21st, Registration from 12.45pm (€20 per adult participant)

Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo

To register go here. See also facebook eventpage here.

Walk Leaders:
Rafeef Ziadah (Palestine)
Francisco Cali-Tzay (Guatemala)
Clare O’Grady Walshe (Ireland)
Cathryn O’Reilly (Dunnes Stores Strike)

 

Music: Máirtín O Connor
(special fundraising gig for Afri with Máirtín & family in the Derrylahan, Louisburgh at 8.30pm on Saturday 21st)

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A Time of Opportunity: Reflections from Féile Bríde 2016

Imogen Gunner and Hajjime play during Afri's 2016 Féile Bríde.

Imogen Gunner and Hajjime play during Afri’s 2016 Féile Bríde.

“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.

Short film by RoJ

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…)

Supporting Landless people in the Philippines

Maitet Ledesma speaks at the 2015 Famine Walk in Mayo.  Photo: Derek Speirs

Maitet Ledesma speaks at the 2015 Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo: Derek Speirs

One of the people who shaped Afri’s work over many years was Jack Hynes from Galway.  Jack worked with the Columbans in the Philippines for 20 years before leaving the Columbans but continuing his solidarity work as a member of the Afri board and the Filipino-Irish Group.  Jack’s step-daughter, Maitet Ledesma, was also involved in Afri and the Filipino-Irish Group throughout the 80s and 90s.  Maitet now works with a solidarity organization called IBON International and Afri continues to collaborate with Maitet in her work.  Among many projects, Maitet works with landless people in Escalante region in the Philippines.  In 2016 Afri will support this community in their struggle against all the odds, by helping them in acquiring farming equipment and farm animals in order to augment their livelihood.

Background

On September 18, 1985, a crowd composed of sugar workers, farmers, fisher-folk, students, urban poor, professionals and church people staged a protest in the town center of Escalante City, in the Philippines to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. The crowd was estimated to number 5000. The next day, the protesters set up human barricades in front of the public market and at the entrance of the municipal plaza. (more…)

Afri Partner, Abjata Khalif and the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network

Abjata Khalif (right) presents a solar powered lamp to a midwife in Sankuri, Garissa, Kenya.

Abjata Khalif (right) presents a solar powered lamp to a midwife in Sankuri, Garissa, Kenya.

Afri supports the work of the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network, founded by Abjata Khalif, which promotes sustainable development, conflict resolution and protection of human rights. Afri particularly supports these communities through providing solar lamps to school going children and midwives.

These enable children to study after the hours of darkness and help midwives to deliver babies safely.  You can read about this work here: “Tapping Renewable Energy”;  “Traditional Birth Attendants in Garissa, Kenya, now using Solar Lamps“; “Northern Kenyans adopt nocturnal life to escape extreme heat

Abjata also visited Ireland a number of times as Afri’s guest, speaking at some of our events as well as to students involved in Afri’s educational programme.  He spoke at Sustaining Activism’s Fire in 2013  as well as at Féile Bríde in 2014.

Here is a short film about Abjata Khalif and the work he does (made by Dave Donnellan):-

Time to Act on Climate Change

Floods in Roscommon in December 2015. Photo: Dave Donnellan

Floods in Roscommon in December 2015. Photo: Dave Donnellan

“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