30th Anniversary of the Famine Walk

The Afri Famine Walk is a unique and highly significant annual event in Ireland. Recalling a tragic episode from An Gorta Mór, with reverence and respect, it also promotes compassion, action and solidarity with those oppressed and excluded in today’s world.

‘Food for Thought’ in Castlebar and Westport on May 18th

Two important events are taking place in Co Mayo in May which aim to remember the Irish Famine and to explore its links with some of today’s sustainability challenges in Ireland and globally.  Both events, which are free of charge, will take place on May 18th before Afri’s annual Famine Walk (Saturday 19th May, Doolough Co. Mayo). A daytime event, ‘Conversations on Cultural Resilience – Famine, Food, Energy & Culture’ will take place from 10-5pm in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Castlebar, Co Mayo. Subsequently, an evening celebration of Cultural Resilience with further conversation, ceol and craic will take place in Blousers public house in Westport from 8-11 pm.

The events have been organised by a number of leading Irish NGOs and groups who have come together including FEASTA (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability), the human rights NGO Afri, the community resilience NGO Cultivate, a recently formed Irish language group, Teacht Aniar, and Food Sovereignty Ireland.

The open format of the events will be based on conversation through culture, using the Great Famine as a backdrop, reflecting on the policies and politics of famines. The events are being held in solidarity with the global justice movement and will cover issues such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, climate action and food sovereignty.

One of the event organisers, Mark Garavan, FEASTA member and lecturer with GMIT Castlebar says:
County Mayo was one of the counties which suffered most when the great famine hit between 1845 – 1848. The recent extreme weather events in Ireland, international instability and the refugee crisis have focussed many minds on the fragility of the global economy and the vulnerability of ecosystems worldwide. There is a need to build resilience on a grassroots local level whilst also reinforcing global solidarity and justice. Unfortunately there is often a lack of dialogue on how we should go about this. The upcoming events aim to stimulate such a discussion and Mayo is the place where it can begin.”

‘Food for Thought’ will also explore and celebrate the legacy of the radical economist and founder of Feasta, Richard Douthwaite, who is known internationally for his writing on different aspects of sustainability creative and his work with communities in Ireland and abroad.

All events are open to members of the public to attend.

To register for the free events or see the complete schedule visit: https://foodforthoughtmayo.eventbrite.ie/.

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…)

From Doolough to Dili and back

President Taur Matan Ruak presents Joe Murray with the 'Order of Timor-Leste’ medal on behalf of on behalf of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign

President Taur Matan Ruak presents Joe Murray with the ‘Order of Timor-Leste’ medal on behalf of on behalf of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign

One of the highlights of Afri’s year is the Annual Doolough Famine Walk and 2015 was no exception. The walk encapsulates many elements, from the tragic story which it commemorates to the reality of continuing famine and food inequality today; the local and the global, connecting Ireland, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the world. The breath taking beauty of the landscape and the way in which Delphi Lodge has now embraced the story adds another dimension.  East Timor was the focus of the 1993 walk, which was led by Tom Hyland and Timorese students Dino Rai and Jose Lopez. The walk is also a generator of ideas and images, a place to plant trees and potatoes, to sow seeds to sing songs and recall stories.

In May 1994, Don Mullan and I left from the walk to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. On that occasion Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and his wife Sunandra had just led the Famine Walk and unveiled a memorial to Mahatma and Michael Davitt in the famine graveyard in Swinford. Gandhi, of course had strong links with South Africa, spending many of his formative years there before returning to India to lead the independence movement.

In 2015, I left the Famine Walk to fly to Dili, capital of the first newly independent state of the 21st century, Timor Leste. I last visited Timor in 1999, as part of a human rights delegation including Fr. Michael Lapsley and Robbie McVeigh from Derry. We met with many groups and individuals on that occasion including the leader of the resistance Xanana Gusmao, who was in prison in Jakarta at that time. Soon after he was released and a referendum was held in which the people overwhelmingly voted for independence.

 

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Canadian Scientist to speak in Dublin about risks of hydraulic fracturing

i Mar 6th No Comments by

Jessica ErnstThere will be a public event on Fracking on Monday the 11th of March at 6.30pm in the Smock Alley Theatre, Exchange Street, Dublin 2, with Canadian scientist Jessica Ernst, organised by Friends of the Earth, No Fracking Dublin and Afri.

Jessica Ernst, a 55-year-old Canadian scientist with 30 years oil and gas industry experience, is suing the Alberta government and gas producer EnCana for unlawful activities related to hydraulic fracturing. She is in Ireland on a speaking tour that includes visits to areas that will be potentially affected by fracking in the North and West of the country.

Jessica’s presentation is a thorough and shocking story of regulators failure to protect health and the environment. Her lawsuit methodically details how Alberta’s two key groundwater regulators, Alberta Environment and the ERCB, “failed to follow the investigation and enforcement processes that they had established and publicised.”

This event is relevant to those who want to prevent fracking in Ireland, and who would like to find out more about the issues involved.

To book for this event, go here: http://www.eventbrite.ie/event/4001927874

Audit Report on Ireland’s Debt launched

i Sep 15th No Comments by

Today, a team of researchers from University of Limerick led by Dr Sheila Killian, released the results of an audit of Ireland’s debt. The audit, commissioned by NGOs Action from Ireland (Afri), Debt and Development Coalition Ireland (DDCI) and the trade union UNITE, will provide a credible and explanatory picture of Ireland’s debt. The audit was carried out by Dr Sheila Killian, Dr John Garvey and Francis Shaw.

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Comhlámh’s “Stop the EU’s resources grab!” Campaign

i Sep 14th No Comments by

The EU’s new trade policy on raw materials is undermining the effort of the world’s poorest countries to develop their economies for the benefit of their population and to fight against inequality and poverty. This policy will prevent developing countries from exercising control over their natural resources, and from ensuring they get a fair price for their raw materials. (more…)

Dalai Lama and John Monaghan Attend ‘POSSIBILITIES Civic Summit’

i May 15th No Comments by

Joe Murray of Afri is introduced to the Dalai Lama by Richard Moore

John Monaghan is congratulated by Des Brannigan, following his address at the Possibilities Civic Summit

On Wednesday, April 13th, two thousand people gathered in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel for the sold-out POSSIBILITIES 2011 civic summit. POSSIBILITIES was organised by three Irish non-profit organisations: Afri, Children in Crossfire and SpunOut.ie and aims to inspire people, young and old, to become vocal and active in transforming our country and our planet for the better.

The event was attended by the exiled and soon to retire Tibetan leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who accepted a personal invitation to come to Ireland from his close friend, Derry man Richard Moore. Richard was blinded by a rubber bullet at the age of 10, and went on to seek out and befriend the British soldier who shot him.

The Dalai Lama spoke on the subject of ‘Universal Responsibility’ and how taking action for change is something we all have a duty to do. Following the Possibilities Summit, the Dalai Lama went on to speak at events in Kildare and Limerick as part of his third visit to the Republic.

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Launch of an Independent Citizens Audit into Ireland’s National Debt

i May 4th No Comments by

Details of an independent audit undertaken into Ireland’s national debt were unveiled in Dublin, Wednesday, May 4th. (more…)

New Proclamation, read at Afri Event in Arbour Hill, Easter Monday

i Apr 25th No Comments by

25.4.11 Dublin. Actor Donal O’Kelly as a bondholder, reading a satirical version of the 1916 Proclamation, which cedes Irish sovereignty to international bondholders, alongside Andy Storey reading the actual Proclamation at an Afri event at Arbour Hill on Easter Monday. Photo by Derek Speirs

POBLACHT NA H EIREANN

THE ‘PROVISIONAL’ GOVERNMENT

of the

SENIOR BONDHOLDERS

TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of the Markets and not of the dead generations from whom she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to our interests and strikes for her enslavement to debt. (more…)

Human Rights NGO Calls for Independent Inquiry into Policing Corrib Gas Dispute

i Apr 8th No Comments by

Press Release, 7th April 2011

Justice and human rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has backed the call for an independent international inquiry into policing of protests around the Corrib Gas project in the wake of the revelation that Gardaí joked and laughed about raping a protestor in their custody, and had previously engaged in verbal sexual abuse of a local woman. (more…)

Food is Our Future

i Feb 21st 1 Comment by

Keep Ireland GM Free

Press Release, 21 February 2011

Clodagh McKenna, Clare O’Grady Walshe & Ruairi Quinn advocating a ‘GM-Free Ireland’

Leading chef and TV presenter Clodagh McKenna, joined people from the food, farming, conservation and human rights sectors in Dublin today to raise awareness about the inherent dangers of new moves to allow a relaxing of laws in relation to genetically modified food and feed. These major changes are occurring in the final days of the Fianna Fáil Government, as Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith heads to Brussels tomorrow Tuesday 22nd for a vote which will have far reaching implications for Ireland’s future in Food.

(more…)

Campaigners call for debt audit

i Feb 20th No Comments by

Press Release, 3 March 2011

A number of prominent Irish academics, writers and activists have backed a campaign to audit Greece’s public debt, amid suggestions that such an audit might also be required in Ireland.  Greek campaigners are calling for an independent and international Audit Commission to find out why the debt was incurred and the uses to which borrowed funds were put.  There is a widespread belief that much Greek debt was used for wasteful or corrupt purposes and that the cost of repayment should not be borne by the Greek people.   Among the Irish figures supporting the Greek debt audit campaign are writer Fintan O’Toole and former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday.  International supporters of the campaign include renowned linguistics professor and writer Noam Chomsky and filmmaker Ken Loach. (more…)

Dalai Lama says ‘vast possibilities are available to the people of Ireland’ in advance of April visit

i Feb 2nd No Comments by

PRESS RELEASE, 1 February 2011

Issued by POSSIBILITIES 2011 (Children in Crossfire, SpunOut.ie, Afri)

Speaking in advance of an April visit to Ireland, Nobel Peace Laureate and exiled Tibetan Leader the Dalai Lama has today delivered a message to the people of Ireland in which he calls for people to demonstrate courage and hope.

“Our world is in turmoil but this also provides an opportunity for true transformation towards peace, justice and happiness if we show courage and hope.” he said in the message which can be viewed in full on the new website http://www.possibilities.ie

The Dalai Lama’s message comes ahead of his April 13th – 14th visit, which is in support of the new POSSIBILITIES 2011 social change initiative, which is being launched by 3 non-profit organisations; Children in Crossfire, SpunOut.ie, and Afri.

“It is my hope that POSSIBILITIES 2011 will open up a space of dialogue, action and reflection and strengthen the realization that vast possibilities are available to the people of Ireland at this time.” said the Tibetan spiritual and political leader.

During his visit the Dalai Lama will deliver a talk entitled ‘A Call For Universal Responsibility’ at a major national Social Forum at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin on April 13th, which also includes Mary Robinson, the popular Irish music group Kila and other yet to be announced very special guests. He will then visit Kildare, in partnership with the Solas Bhríde Centre, where he will speak on ‘The Spirituality of Compassion’, before concluding his visit on Thursday April 14th with a talk entitled  ‘The Power of Forgiveness’ at the University of Limerick.

His visit, which is his 3rd to the Republic of Ireland (having visited in 1973 and 1991), follows a personal invitation from Derry man Richard Moore who the Dalai Lama describes as his personal hero.  In 1972, aged 10, Richard was blinded by a rubber bullet and years later he befriended the soldier who shot him. He has gone on to become a leading advocate for children through his Children in Crossfire international development organisation, of which the Dalai Lama is patron.

According to Richard, the Dalai Lama represents the type of progressive leadership that is badly needed in Ireland right now: “The Dalai Lama offers a deep wisdom to help us better understand and address the urgent and interconnected range of economic, social, political and environmental problems facing us today. He is someone respected by people from all walks of life, someone who can help us realise the real possibilities for change that exist in amongst all the tough times.”

More information on POSSIBILITIES 2011 and the Dalai Lama’s visit to Dublin, Kildare and Limerick, including ticket information, is available from www.possibilities.ie. Tickets go on sale for the POSSIBILITIES 2011 Social Forum tomorrow Wednesday February 2rd at 9am from Ticketmaster.ie and Ticketmaster outlets north and south.

http://www.possibilities.ie

ENDS

………………………………………………………………….

His Holiness The 14th The Dalai Lama’s Message to the People of Ireland (via Office of Tibet )

“I am looking forward to visiting Ireland in April to participate in a range of events organized by Children in Crossfire, Afri and SpunOut.ie. I very much look forward to speaking in Dublin, Kildare and Limerick at events which I hope will help people realise their own potential, as well as the immense possibilities that exist for realising much needed personal, social and global change. It is my hope that POSSIBILITIES 2011 will open up a space of dialogue, action and reflection and strengthen the realization that vast possibilities are available to the people of Ireland at this time.

Our world is in turmoil but this also provides an opportunity for true transformation towards peace, justice and happiness if we show courage and hope.  As I have said before, I truly believe that individuals can make a difference in society and it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier and fairer world.
It will be especially important to visit at a time when Ireland is facing serious turmoil, as is the world as a whole, grappling as it is with economic upheaval, climate change, and great and growing chasms between rich and poor.

I hope that my time in Ireland – in the company of my good friend and my hero Richard Moore – will contribute towards the building of a new civic and cultural force for change.”

………………………………………………………………….

COMMENTS/INTERVIEWS:

Dalai Lama specific queries/comment
Richard Moore: Founder of Children in Crossfire | Tel.: Derry +44 (0)28 7126 9898 | Email: ursula.moore@childrenincrossfire.org | Web: www.childrenincrossfire.org |

POSSIBILITIES initiative, including April 13th Social Forum
1) Joe Murray: Coordinator of Afri, | Tel.: 086-2116956 / 01-8827563/7581|Email: admin@afri.ie | Web: www.afri.ie |
2) Ruairí McKiernan: SpunOut.ie Founder | Tel. 091-533693 | Email: ruairi@spunout.ie | Web: www.spunout.ie

Kildare visit
Rita Minehan csb, Solas Bhríde Centre | Tel.: 01-8642440 or 045-522890 |Email: Rminehan@gmail.com or info@solasbhride.com | Web: www.solasbhride.ie

Limerick visit
Sheena Doyle, Press Officer, University of Limerick | Tel.: 061 202219 / 086 3807859 | email: sheena.doyle@ul.ie | Web: www.ul.ie/dalailama
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ADDITIONAL NOTES

1. Children in Crossfire

Children in Crossfire are a Derry based international organisation founded by Richard Moore in 1996. Children in Crossfire works to protect and promote the rights of some the world’s most vulnerable children, and in particular to ensure primary school access to all children and to reduce infant mortality.

Richard Moore, Founder:

“Children in Crossfire are delighted and honoured that His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, has agreed to come to Ireland to speak at the Possibilities event.  We can not think of anyone more suited to provide leadership, hope and inspiration at a time when the world and in particular Ireland needs it most.  Through the series of events that His Holiness is speaking at in Dublin, Limerick and Kildare we envisage that people will be empowered and given the confidence to act and bring about change at a personal, local and global level.”

2. Afri

Afri is a peace and justice organisation who for the last 35 years have been active in promoting peace and development in Ireland and abroad. Afri holds the annual Féile Bhríde peace conference in Kildare, a winter school on social justice issues and an annual Famine memorial walk in Co. Mayo. Supporters include musician Christy Moore, Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is the Patron of the organsiation.

Joe Murray, Coordinator:

“Afri is delighted to welcome the Dalai Lama, the Head of State and spiritual leader of Tibet, to Ireland. We welcome him as the representative of the people of Tibet who continue to experience suppression of their rights on a daily basis. We welcome him as one who knows at first hand the reality of colonialism and political violence as a result of Chinese aggression towards his homeland. We welcome him as a symbol of resistance to cultural domination and political annexation. We welcome him as a refugee, forced into exile on St. Patrick’s Day 1959. We hope his visit will be a source of support for refugees in Ireland and generate a more enlightened, generous and welcoming approach to refugees and asylum seekers here. We welcome him as a Nobel Peace Laureate, the first to be recognised for his concern for the global environment. We hope that the Dalai Lama’s life of service to humanity will be an example that will inspire others. Mindful of our own history, Afri has always striven to develop links between Ireland and oppressed people around the world and has worked in solidarity with oppressed communities in Latin America, the Philippines, South Africa, East Timor and the Niger Delta, amongst other places. We see the visit of the Dalai Lama as a way of strengthening the links between Ireland and the people of Tibet. We believe that this visit is happening at a crucial time, when hope, courage, integrity and true leadership are urgently required.  We believe that his visit will be a sign of hope to those here who are marginalised and have their rights trampled upon by government or corporations. We hope for a re-awakening and a deepening of awareness about the way in which our planet is being devastated and our resources squandered. The Dalai Lama’s dream for Tibet is that it would be a zone of peace at the heart of Asia. We believe that Ireland could become a zone of peace at the heart of Europe, rejecting warfare and the violence of corporations who put profit before people.”

3. SpunOut.ie

SpunOut.ie is a pioneering driven youth organisation that works to empower young people to make a difference in their own lives and in the world around them. SpunOut.ie provides information, support and opportunities for young people to engage in health and social issues and discuss, debate and act on the issues that affect them such as mental health, education, employment and climate change. SpunOut.ie also runs an Academy of Activism and will soon launching a micro-grants awards scheme amongst other youth health and civic initiatives.

Comment by SpunOut.ie Founder, Ruairí McKiernan:

“We welcome The Dalai Lama to Ireland and what is a turning point in our country’s history. We are having to face up to our past, present and our future and many people are looking within to question our values and our culture. The Dalai Lama is one of the greatest messengers for peace and inner revolution alive. He echoes Gandhi’s ‘be the change you want to see’ mantra and is an all too rare figure of integrity and courage. As a teenager and leader of a peaceful isolated country he was forced to deal with a brutal invasion of his country and later into negotiations with the infamous Chairman Mao. The Dalai Lama has a great affinity for young people and SpunOut.ie believes he can add huge value to our work in empowering and mobilising Ireland’s massive population of young people, who desperately need support and opportunities to transform our struggling island.”

4. Solas Bhride Centre, Kildare

Solas Bhríde is a small Christian centre, established in Kildare in 1992.  It is committed to unfolding the legacy of St. Brigid of Kildare in a creative and life-giving way in the 21st century.  The Centre welcomes peoples of all faiths and none in their search of meaning.  It has become a popular destination for pilgrims and visitors, local, national and international.  Brigid’s flame, tended in Solas Bhride since it was relit at an Afri Justice and Peace Conference in Kildare in 1993, burns as a beacon of hope, justice and peace for our country and our world. Plans are in place for a larger ecologically sustainable Centre and Hermitages in the near future.

Rita Minehan csb, Solas Bhríde Centre:

“Solas Bhride is honoured to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Kildare. The people will extend a warm Céad Mile Fáilte to the Dalai Lama.  He is renowned worldwide as a spiritual leader and a man of peace and we eagerly await his message of peace and compassion.  The Dalai Lama will have an opportunity to imbibe some of the rich heritage of Kildare.  St. Brigid, its founding saint, is renowned through the ages as a spiritual leader, peacemaker, a woman of the land, an advocate for the poor and a woman of legendary hospitality. The Dalai Lama will be presented with the Brigid flame, and will give an address to those assembled on the theme of Compassion.”
www.solasbhride.com (Dalai Lama visit info published in late February)

5. University of Limerick

University of Limerick Professor Don Barry, UL President:

“We are extremely honoured to host this Lecture and to welcome the Dalai Lama onto our campus at UL.  His Holiness is respected all over the world as a truly inspirational spiritual teacher whose energy, compassion and wisdom touch everyone he meets. He has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the US Congressional Medal in recognition of his tireless efforts to promote the compassionate and peaceful resolution of human conflict and we very much look forward to hearing his message on the Power of Forgiveness when he speaks at UL”
www.ul.ie/dalailama

What Ireland can learn from the Global South

i Dec 31st No Comments by

New Publication from Afri

PRESS RELEASE, 31 December 2010

A campaigning group is calling for the cancellation of Irish bank debt on the grounds that it is unjust and unsustainable, and for a renegotiation of the EU-IMF ‘bail out’. The call will be made at a press conference (taking place at 12 noon in the Central Hotel, Dublin, on Friday 31st January) to launch an Afri Report entitled ‘The IMF and Ireland: What We Can Learn from the Global South’.

Action from Ireland (Afri) claims the loans from the EU and the IMF will be used to repay the bondholders (mainly European financial institutions) who lent to those Irish banks that have now crashed and burned, and whose liabilities the Irish state has recklessly guaranteed. Afri chairperson Andy Storey said that “these debts were not incurred to run Irish public services but by private speculators chasing a quick buck – why should ordinary Irish citizens now pick up that tab?”

He accused the Irish government of acting as debt collectors for foreign banks. Afri, he said, has extensive experience of the negative impact of the IMF, especially in Developing Countries, and, based on this experience, is well placed to warn of the danger of accepting diktats from such international institutions. (more…)

The Dalai Lama to visit Ireland in 2011

i Oct 22nd 3 Comments by

MEDIA RELEASE, 22 October 2010

Issued by Children in Crossfire

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama will visit Ireland next year to take part in a series of events being planned by three Irish based NGO’s. Children in Crossfire, Afri, and SpunOut.ie, will host The Dalai Lama in his visit to Ireland and organisers say the visit comes at an important time when Ireland, North and South, is looking at important questions of identity, peace and progress.

The announcement comes just days before UTV screens a documentary about Children in Crossfire founder, Richard Moore, who the Dalai Lama calls ‘His Hero’. The documentary, ‘The Dalai Lama’s hero’ (screened on UTV, Sunday October 24th at 10.15pm GMT) follows Richard Moore and Charles Innis the British Soldier who blinded him, as they travel to India for a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama and charts their journey to forgiveness and friendship. Moore was blinded at the age of 10 by a rubber bullet in his native Derry and has since become a leading international advocate for the rights of children suffering from the injustice of poverty. His friendship with the British Solider who wounded him has become an inspiration to many and features in his autobiography ‘Can I Give Him My Eyes?‘ the title of which comes from Richard’s father’s passionate plea to the doctors who tried to help him after the attack.

The Dalai Lama is now the Patron of Children in Crossfire, which works to protect and promote the rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and it was during a visit to the Dalai Lama’s home in exile in Dharamasala, India earlier this year that he warmly accepted the invitation to return to Ireland.

Speaking at the announcement of the visit of the Dalai Lama to Ireland, Richard Moore says:

“There is perhaps no greater advocate for peace and compassion as respected worldwide as the Dalai Lama. He is a man of great warmth, depth, knowledge and insight. As a refugee from his native Tibet since fleeing the Chinese invasion in 1959, he has suffered a great deal alongside his people. His extraordinary work for peace has been recognised by his Nobel Peace prize in 1989, and by the awarding of the U.S Congressional Medal in 2007. However, it is the great admiration and esteem The Dalai Lama is held in, by people from all walks of life and all faiths, that makes him such an important figure and perhaps the most important figure in a world that is struggling with complex economic, ecological and social problems, and the need to cultivate human understanding, connection and collective action. It is against this backdrop that we are profoundly honoured and excited to welcome His Holiness back to Ireland, an island he has great respect and affection for.”

More information on the trip itinerary and programme will be announced on the www.dalailamaireland.com website in the coming weeks, in a visit that will connect with youth, church and community groups.

ENDS

• Media queries: Children in Crossfire

****

Organising Partners

Children in Crossfire

Children in Crossfire is Derry based international organisation founded by Richard Moore in 1996. Children in Crossfire works to protect and promote the rights of some the world’s most vulnerable children, and in particular to ensure primary school access to all children and to reduce infant mortality.

Afri

Afri is a peace and justice organisation who for the last 35 years have been active in promoting peace and development in Ireland and abroad. Afri holds the annual Féile Bhríde peace conference in Kildare, a winter school on social justice issues and an annual Famine memorial walk in Co. Mayo. Supporters include musician Christy Moore, Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is the Patron of the organisation.

Comment from Afri

“Afri, together with our partners Children in Crossfire and SpunOut.ie, is delighted to welcome the Dalai Lama to Ireland as the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet.

Afri welcomes The Dalai Lama as the distinguished representative of the people of Tibet, who have suffered colonisation and the brutal suppression of their rights by China for many years. We welcome him as a symbol of resistance – to cultural domination and political annexation – who has never acquiesced in the attempts of the Coloniser to silence him.

We welcome him as a refugee, who was forced to escape into exile in 1959 and who has never been able to return to his homeland. Ireland and the world can learn much from his leadership and example.

He brings a message of hope for refugees in Ireland and beyond.

He represents a rallying point for those whose rights are being marginalised and trampled on by government and corporations in Ireland and elsewhere.

At a time when Ireland so needs such a symbol of hope, his visit will help ensure that other voices are heard – voices of those too often silenced and ignored.

SpunOut.ie

SpunOut.ie is a pioneering web based youth organisation that works to empower young people to make a difference in their own lives and in the world around them. SpunOut.ie provides information, support and opportunities for young people to engage in health and social issues and discuss, debate and act on the issues that affect them such as mental health, education, employment and climate change. SpunOut.ie also runs an Academy of Activism and will soon launching a micro-grants awards scheme amongst other youth health and civic initiatives.

SpunOut.ie comment

“We welcome The Dalai Lama to Ireland and what is a turning point in our country’s history. We are having to face up to our past, present and our future and many people are looking within to question our values and our culture. The Dalai Lama is one of the greatest messengers for peace and inner revolution alive. He echoes Gandhi’s ‘be the change you want to see’ mantra and is an all too rare figure of integrity and courage. As a teenager and leader of a peaceful isolated country he was forced to deal with a brutal invasion of his country and later into negotiations with the infamous Chairman Mao. The Dalai Lama has a great affinity for young people and SpunOut.ie believes he can add huge value to our work in empowering and mobilising Ireland’s massive population of young people, who desperately need support and opportunities to transform our struggling island.”

Afri marks Entry into Force of Convention on Cluster Munitions

i Jul 28th No Comments by

On 2 August Afri and the Bloom Movement for Global Justice beat the drums in front of Croke Park to mark the Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention is the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty in more than a decade and it was negotiated and adopted by 107 countries at Croke Park in May 2008.

Photos: Derek Speirs

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Tutu congratulates Afri

i Jul 23rd No Comments by

I want to express my solidarity with, and support for, Afri on the occasion of their 35th anniversary. I am proud that Leah and I have been Afri’s International Patrons for more than 25 years. I first came to know Afri when they invited me to a conference in 1982, which I was unable to attend because my passport had been confiscated by the Apartheid government of South Africa. However, I took up that invitation two years later in 1984 and visited Ireland at Afri’s invitation during the inspiring anti-apartheid strike by young workers in Dunnes Stores in Dublin. That strike was a unique and inspirational act of international solidarity by young people in Ireland and I continue to thank them for their contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa. I also commend Afri for the support which they gave to the strikers, including arranging for me to meet them as I went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

That strike became a template for Afri’s work in the succeeding years. They have continued to be involved in education, awareness raising and campaigning on a wide range of issues from opposition to the dictatorships in Latin America throughout the 1980s to their support for communities affected by the activities of Multinational Corporations today. I have been impressed, for example, by the way in which Afri supported the Ogoni community in the Niger Delta before, during and after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues, and how they have linked this struggle to that of the people of Rossport in the West of Ireland who are currently facing threats to their health, safety and environment by the multinational consortium which is seeking to extract gas in that region. Afri is admirable in that it has never shied away from making the difficult but necessary local global links.

Afri continues to work on a range of other challenging issues: such as support for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza; highlighting the dangers posed by global warming, climate change and peak oil; and campaigning against the ongoing obscenity of the global arms trade, costing more than 1000 billion dollars annually while a billion people in our world suffer from hunger.

Afri is a small organisation with a global reach, whose creativity and imaginative approach give it an ability to punch above its weight. Afri represents a dissenting voice that sometimes goes against the grain, an extremely important role in society, especially at a time when the dominant approaches have brought us to a situation of grave inequality and crises. I reaffirm my support for Afri, my congratulations on their 35th Anniversary and my belief that organisations like Afri are now needed more than ever and that they should be supported and encouraged by all who believe in democracy in Ireland and beyond.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu congratulates Afri (PDF)