Reflections from Féile Bríde 2018

 

Afri’s 2018 Féile Bríde took place on Saturday 3rd February in Solas Bhríde in Kildare town.  It was a rich and full day with contributions from Peadar Kirby about caring for our global village, Hanny Van Geel (Via Campesina), Rose Hogan (Trócaire) on ‘food for life’, John Maguire on ‘Peace Meal Change’ and wrongfully imprisoned Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle, as well as music and poetry.  You can get a flavour of the day in a short film made by RoJ.

Here is a report from Sr Patricia Mulhall, who attended the conference:

This is the twenty-sixth year of another well-attended Afri conference hosted at Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare.  As visiting speaker, Peadar Kirby named it, the Ard fheis of Afri. Some 200 people attended in the beautiful setting of the Centre & Hermitages, a centre of hospitality, brightness radiating a warm welcome. Brigidines – Mary, Phil and Rita – organise and manage the Centre with Cairde Bhríde, faithful friends and staff.

 ‘Light out of Darkness’ was a fitting theme for a day punctuated by music and message of hope. Speakers with academic presentations and personal stories enlightened and entertained the participants. The day began with a presentation from Peadar Kirby, entitled ‘Caring for our Global village.’ Peadar is Professor Emeritus of International Politics and Public Policy in the University of Limerick, Ireland. He is associated with the eco-village of Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, a 67-acre site with 50 acres of land for allotments, farming and woodland as well as 50 low- energy homes. (more…)

Reflections from Féile Bríde 2017: Darkness to Light

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

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

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

The 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…)

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

Arrests of Mick Wallace and Clare Daly

Shannon_SLIDESHOWAfri strongly endorses Shannonwatch’s condemnation of the arrest of Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly as a result of their action to inspect war planes passing through Shannon.

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

Extent of Shannon and Ireland’s Complicity in War Revealed

Shannon_SLIDESHOW

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…)

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon

A protest at Shannon Airport took place on March 15th to mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role. It was preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport. Organised by Afri and supported by PANA.

 

Film produced & edited by Dave Donnellan, also including filming by Muireann De Barra

 
“I feel it is my duty as an Irish artist to follow the example of Margaretta D’Arcy and make a stand against the shocking situation of Shannon’s continuing use as an instrument of war.

As St. Patrick’s Day looms I want to help focus attention on the fact that the shamrock is stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of lives taken by the U.S military campaign, of which Shannon is an essential component. Is this the kind of Ireland we want to celebrate?

The sight of Irish politicians celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S is grotesque while human rights abuses and death continue to be facilitated by the Irish government’s gift of Shannon airport to the U.S war machine. I hope my actions can in some way draw attention to the shameful complicity of the Irish government in mass murder”.

– Dylan Tighe​, musician, writer and actor

“At this time of year when a bowl of shamrock is handed over in the White House as a symbol of the gombeen attitude of our leaders, it’s vital to challenge the hypocrisy of the neutral Irish state letting its second airport be used as a warport by the US. How many rendition kidnap flights flew through Shannon with prisoners now in Guantanamo for more than a decade without trial, many force-fed for months? We’ll never know because military flights were not and are not inspected.

I feel compelled to use whatever artistic skills I might have to challenge glib acceptance of the use of Shannon by the US army, as a gesture of solidarity with those far-off communities suffering attack by US armed forces with the complicit aid of Shannon Airport. Not in my name, not with my compliance”.

– Donal O’Kelly, writer, actor and director.

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride

Shamrock1

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride – A protest at Shannon Airport at 12 noon to 1pm on Sunday, March 15th.

To mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role.

Preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport, starting at 11.00 am.

Organised by Afri and supported by PANA

Peaceful Endeavour to Terminate Aggressive Landings at Shannon

Afri has consistently opposed the abandonment by successive government of Ireland’s policy of neutrality, a policy whereby Ireland pursued largely non-militaristic foreign policy and refused to participate in wars of aggression.

All that has now changed, against the will of the Irish people and governments cravenly provide Shannon Airport to the US for its never-ending ‘war on terrorism’ as well as surrendering our neutrality in many other ways.

Afri recently launched a petition opposing the use of Shannon as a war-port, which is on-going and our Board member John Maguire has devised this campaign called ‘PETALS’ (Peaceful Endeavour to Terminate Aggressive Landings at Shannon) as a way of drawing attention to our continual participation in wreaking death and destruction on other peoples and nations.

John was prevented from handing these peace shamrocks to passengers in Shannon Airport this weekend. Apparently war planes and rendition flights are acceptable in Shannon but not shamrocks!

To sign our petition to show that you oppose the military use of Shannon airport go here.

Shannonwatch Welcomes Oireachtas Petitions Committee Visit to Shannon

Shannonwatch Press Release

Shannonwatch welcomes the visit to Shannon Airport by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions. The visit which took place on October 2nd was a follow-up to a petition by Shannonwatch earlier this year. The petition called for the Government to investigate the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace for the transit of US armed troops, munitions and other war material, as well as for the refuelling of CIA-associated aircraft involved in extraordinary rendition.

During their visit to Shannon, representatives of the Committee met with members of the Gardai including Chief Superintendent John Kerin and with airport officials before meeting again with Shannonwatch. They were informed that about 40,000 US troops had gone through Shannon so far this year. However Shannonwatch understands that airport officials said that US troops were not essential to the economics of Shannon Airport as they contribute relatively little, and that civilian passengers contribute far more with shopping, car parking and so on.

Amongst the topics covered in a constructive meeting between Shannonwatch representative Edward Horgan and the Committee were the non-searching of US military aircraft, and past indications from Gardai that the Attorney General had issued advice not to search suspected rendition planes.

“We had a long discussion on issue of Gardai searching or non-searching of US military and military chartered aircraft” said Mr Horgan. “Gardai continue to insist on needing a warrant from a judge to search chartered troop carriers, and it is even suggested that international diplomatic laws forbids them from searching US military aircraft. We have never received an adequate explanation of the legal basis for such claims”.

Shannonwatch asked the Oireachtas Committee to seek clarification of exactly what laws the government is referring to when it talks about sovereign immunity and chairperson Padraig MacLochlainn TD undertook to follow up on this.

Shannonwatch also raised the fact that military planes and chartered “civilian” troop carriers are treated differently and pointed out that both are bound by international laws on neutrality. “We also pointed out the direct contradiction in government policies when they continue to declare a policy of neutrality while being in gross breach of international laws on neutrality. We recommended that the Committee should consult an international law expert on neutrality and they agreed. Matters of policy are primarily a matter for legislators rather than Gardai.”

“The issue of whether or not a former Attorney General issued advice that suspect rendition aircraft, and maybe even US military aircraft, should not be searched has not yet been adequately addressed.” said Mr Horgan. “If such advice was ever given it would be a very serious matter, and for that reason it needs to be fully investigated.”

Prior to the Committee’s visit to Shannon Padraig MacLochlainn noted that Shannonwatch have also made serious claims that complaints or requests made to Gardaí at Shannon have not been followed up. He went on to say that “The series of meetings on the ground in Shannon tomorrow will assist the Committee in following up this controversial issue. We will also be able to assess first-hand Shannonwatch’s call for an independent inquiry in relation to what they perceive as the failure to investigate aircraft suspected to be involved in illegal rendition.”

During the meeting Shannonwatch’s Edward Horgan noted that while legal issues such as neutrality are important, the reality that Ireland has been facilitating wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people including children are being killed, while failing in our constitutional and moral responsibilities to promote international peace and justice, is of greater importance. “We will not allow our government or the Gardai to ignore that fact” said Mr Horgan.

Shannonwatch are organising a large demonstration at Shannon Airport on October 12th at 2pm. It is being supported by peace and anti-war groups from around Ireland, and is being held at a time of renewed bombing in the Middle East by the US and its allies.

Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning

Report by Genny Bove

The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.

Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.

Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.

Nuala Kelly

Human rights campaigner, Nuala Kelly, speaking about Gerry Conlon at Resisting Injustice. Photo: Dave Donnellan

The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. (more…)

War Games at Croke Park

A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008.  Source: Wikipedia

A USAF F-16C over Iraq in 2008. Source: Wikipedia

I was planting a tree in the garden of my north Dublin home on Saturday afternoon when the silence was shattered by a sudden thunderous roar, the like of which I had never heard before, while I caught a glimpse of a black streak flashing across the sky. My wife ran from the house alarmed and fearful – thinking that an attack of some sort was actually taking place. In our local vegetable shop, a staff member reported customers instinctively ‘running for cover’ as they were overwhelmed by the deafening noise. A man in his 70s who was repairing a house nearby had to go inside for an hour as a result of the shock.

We later learned that the cause of our Saturday afternoon jolt was two F-16 war planes, performing a fly-past for the American football match in Croke Park. I thought of the fear that, if only for a few seconds, these war planes had generated. The vaguest hint, perhaps, of what it must be like for families in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for whom this is a daily reality, except in these instances it is no propagandist fly-past as the war planes ‘deliver’ death, destruction and misery. I thought of what it would be like for my own children if this had been the ‘real thing’, and of those children for whom this sound is the last they will ever hear! (more…)

Afri expresses outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park on Saturday 30th August

The justice and peace group Afri have expressed outrage at the “fly past” by 2 U.S. jet fighters as part of the U.S. football match in Croke Park at the weekend.

“Many people in the surrounding areas were shocked and frightened when the silence of a quiet Saturday afternoon was shattered by the thunder of 2 F16 fighter jets which, without warning or explanation, flew overhead in a “lap of honour” for the participating teams.  What would it be like if, as in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, they were firing the missiles which are their stock in trade?  Who gave consent for this invasion of Irish air space by elements of the U.S. war machine? Is it appropriate that the headquarters of Ireland’s national games, built over many years by the pence and shillings, cents and euros, of loyal supporters should be used as a backdrop for U.S. war propaganda?

If official permission was given, Afri would condemn the authorities in Croke Park and the Irish Government for collusion with this disgraceful display.  As with Shannon Airport, this shows a typically supine attitude by the Irish Government to U.S. power.  Is there no limit to our willingness to prostrate ourselves before the altar of U.S. militarism?   Sport should be a means of bringing people together and promoting peace, not a vehicle for promoting war and militarism,” said Dr. Iain Atack of Afri.

Should there be a recurrence of this event in future years, Afri stated that it will mobilise people to protest against such obscene conflation of war and sport.

Article in the Irish Times by Fiona Gartland: Croke Park Classic: fighter jet fly-past upsets people, dogs and anti-war group

Shannonwatch Welcomes Attempts by TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to Inspect US Military Aircraft at Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch, 22 July 2014

Shannonwatch welcomes attempts by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon earlier today. At a time when the airport may be helping to supply the weapons used by Israel to kill and main civilians in Gaza, it is vitally important that we have proper oversight of what is on the military planes at the airport. Despite repeated requests, the authorities refuse to search the planes to ensure they are not in breach of international law.

“We are being told repeatedly that there is no proof there are illegal weapons on the planes” said Mick Wallace. “It is nonsense to suggest that none of them are involved in military operations or that there are no weapons on board these planes, which is what the government says. But because the authorities won’t search the planes to find out if that is the case, people like us have to do it.” (more…)

Afri alarmed by Irish companies supplying US army and military industry

Shannon

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…)

Shannon Shame

See photo attached of Hercules C 130 US warplane at Shannon today being “protected” by Irish Defence Forces patrol. In addition to its military forces in Afghanistan, US special forces are also operating in Yemen, in several African countries including Ethiopia and Somalia, and from US navy ships in the Indian Ocean, and war planes like the one photographed below are being used to transport supplies including arms through intermediaries to the rebel side in the Syrian civil war.

No US military aircraft have ever been searched by Gardaí at Shannon airport, even though the Irish Government Jet on a trip to the USA with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was reportedly searched on at least one occasion at Washington Dulles Airport.

Photo provided by Edward Horgan

Link to petition calling for end of military use of Shannon airport:  http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-respect-ireland-s-constitution-end-u-s-military-use-of-shannon

Petition – U.S the military use of Shannon Airport

The people of Ireland are being pulled into wars we don’t support. Every week planes full of armed U.S troops pass through Ireland’s Shannon airport en route to conflict zones. The airport has been directly involved in the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Over two million U.S troops have used Shannon Airport since 2002.

Ireland has even given an exemption to fees for these military flights. In addition, CIA rendition torture aircraft have regularly used the airport en route to the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp and other torture sites. Shannon’s use as vital cog in the illegal U.S. renditions programme has been highlighted by Amnesty International, the Council of Europe, the UN Committee Against Torture and others.

It’s time to show the world that we don’t support the bombing, killing and torture of innocent people.

With Shannon back in the news, we now have a real opportunity to put pressure on politicians to hear our voices.

Please sign and share the petition today.

http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-respect-ireland-s-constitution-end-u-s-military-use-of-shannon

(more…)

Peacemakers like Margaretta D’Arcy uphold the greater moral law

Photograph taken in solidarity with jailed Peace Activist Margaretta D’Arcy at “Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib” in Ceathrú Thaidhg, County Mayo on the 18th January

Signs of hope and causes for optimism are still to be found amid the bleak picture often presented on the daily news. Despite the realities of war, climate change and hunger, we can find hope and inspiration in those who continue to resist, to struggle, to challenge, and even to celebrate.

Imbolc, the ancient Irish festival that marks the beginning of spring, is almost upon us. It represents a time of new beginnings after the long, dark winter. In Irish tradition, people celebrated this time on February 1st, and honoured Brigid, who was noted in legend as a strong and fearless leader that carried a torch for peace, truth and justice. (more…)

Release Peace Activist Margaretta D’Arcy

Photograph taken at “Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib” on January 18th in Ceathrú Thaidhg, Co. Mayo in solidarity with jailed peace activist Magaretta D’Arcy. Photo: Dave Donnellan

Friday 17th of January 2014

Department of Justice, 94 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy was arrested yesterday and brought to Limerick prison to serve a three month sentence. Ms D’Arcy suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is also being treated for cancer.

She was arrested and charged as a consequence of a peaceful protest against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from their wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, due to the Irish Governments commitment to active participation and support for the doctrine of perpetual war. She refused to sign a bond to say that she would stay out of unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

Please contact Mr. Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice at: minister@justice.ie to seek her release and share this message with your friends.

Use of Shannon Airport by U.S. Military Implicates Ireland in Iraqi/Afghan Slaughter

Press Release

From left to right: Donal O’Kelly as an Irish politician, Dylan Tighe as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner and Raymond Keane as a US marine in a protest action to highlight the use of Shannon airport by the US military on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war earlier this year. Photo: Derek Speirs

The human rights group Afri has said it is dismayed but not surprised by the revelation, given in response to a Dáil question, that a US military aircraft “armed with a fixed weapon” stopped at Shannon airport early last month. Afri opposes the use of Shannon by US military because of the way it implicates Ireland in the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people in the US’s disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Afri believes, as confirmed by groups such as Shannon Watch, that weapons are regularly transported through Shannon, the only difference being that on this occasion the weapon was visible. The ongoing arrogance of the US was again in evidence in the failure by the Embassy even to answer questions about the type of aircraft or weapon where the aircraft had flown from or its destination.

Afri is appalled by the craven attitude of the Irish Government and by Mr Gilmore’s bending over backwards in an embarrassing attempt to explain and excuse this ‘administrative error’.

Afri once again calls on the Government to end this practice of participating in proxy war by handing our airports over to the US war machine.