Bhopal Solidarity Event in Manorhamilton

The Manorhamilton Bhopal Hearts event took place in The Parlour on Main Street Manorhamilton on Monday 3rd December, International Bhopal Day.

The event was mounted following the visit in September to the Glens Centre Manorhamilton, organised by Afri and Love Leitrim, of two survivors of the Bhopal disaster, Safreen and Namdev. Safreen, now 19 years old, whose parents are sick as a result of the Union Carbide contamination, walked with her schoolfriends in 2008, all aged 15, from Bhopal to Delhi, 13 days, and handed paper hearts in to the Indian Minister for the Environment, to remind him what a heart is. The message was – clean our water or hearts will stop beating.

On 3rd December 1984 in Bhopal, India, a large pesticide plant operated by Union Carbide incurred a catastrophic accident that released toxic gases. 8,000 people died as a result, wiping out entire communities and villages. 600,000 were injured or disabled. Almost 30 years later, illness and diseases associated with the gases continue to cause suffering for the region’s population. Dow Chemicals, one of the sponsors of the London Olympics, took over Union Carbide, and have refused to take responsibility for cleaning up the still-polluted water supply. The Indian government have moved only recently, and slowly, to start to make reparation.

In Manorhamilton, we wanted to mark the terrible legacy of Bhopal, salute the resilience of the coping survivors, and warn of the hazards of poorly-regulated chemical processes introduced into communities. A group of people in Manorhamilton, with artists Jackie and Peggy McKenna, made hearts of various materials – glass, wool, papier-maché and ceramic – which they presented in The Parlour, Main Street as an expression of support from the people of North Leitrim to the survivors of the Bhopal disaster.

Manorhamilton Bhopal Hearts were posted to Eamonn Gilmore, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and the Indian Ambassador.

Bhopal Hearts will be hung on the Manorhamilton Christmas tree on Saturday 8th December when its lights will be turned on!

– Donal O’Kelly


Ban Depleted Uranium Film

4 minute documentary filmed and directed by Dearbhla Glynn, with the support of Afri, outlines some issues posed by use of the Depleted Uranium Weapons.
It brings us to Basrah, Southern Iraq, where much of destruction was caused during Gulf War in 1991. The ammunition used during the Gulf War contained DU.
Depleted uranium is a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel. Once exposed it stays in the environment for up to 400 million years.

DU becomes internalized through inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin. Alpha radiation inside the body is the most potent carcinogenic agent known to science – twenty times more damaging than x-rays or gamma rays, causing cancerous diseases, congenital anomalies and malignancies. DU use is not an issue known or spoken about outside of the military, and there is very little understanding of it or consequences of using the DU weapons.

There are short interviews with Dr. Hamdan, Dean of Basrah Medical school, Dr. Hassan, Head of Oncology, Laura Bush Hospital, Dennis Haliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator, outlining some of these issue in the documentary.

To find out what you can do to stop the use of this terrible weapon, please go here:

Afri welcomes International Peace Bureau to Ireland

As one of only two Irish member organisations [1], Afri is delighted to welcome the International Peace Bureau for its first ever Council meeting in Ireland. The IPB is a winner of the Nobel peace Prize and has acquired a distinguished peace promoting reputation in the course of its over 100 year existence.

The meeting will take place in All Hallows College, Drumcondra, on this week-end, November 16th – 18th, and will coincide with Afri’s annual Hedge School which will take place at the same venue. Also, as part of the Afri/IPB weekend, the annual Sean MacBride Peace Prize will be presented to two heroines of the ‘Arab Spring’ by its first ever recipient, President Michael D. Higgins.

Afri became a member of the International Peace Bureau in the 1980s at the recommendation of Sean MacBride who was IPB President for more than ten years and was also a special advisor to Afri. For this reason also we are happy to welcome the IPB and to be part of the Sean MacBride Peace Prize ceremony.

Continue reading “Afri welcomes International Peace Bureau to Ireland”

International Peace Bureau to Award 2012 Sean MacBride Peace Prize to Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egypt) and Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisia)

The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce its decision to award the 2012 Sean MacBride Peace Prize to two Arab women: Lina Ben Mhenni from Tunisia and Nawal El-Sadaawi from Egypt. They have both shown great courage and made substantial contributions to what is known as the Arab Spring.

The award ceremony will be held on the eve of IPB’s annual conference, which this year doubles as Afri’s Hedge School. The prize ceremony will be held on Friday 16th November, at 6pm. The venue is Woodlock Hall, All Hallows College, Dublin 9. The Hedge School will be held in the same venue the following day. This will be the first ever IPB Council meeting in Ireland in its over 100 year history during which it will be hosted by Afri, a member organisation of the International Peace Bureau.

The presenter of the awards will be President Michael D. Higgins, himself the very first winner of the MacBride Prize in 1992.


About the Prize

Every year the IPB awards a special prize to a person or organisation that has done outstanding work for peace, disarmament and/or human rights. These were the principal concerns of Sean MacBride, the distinguished Irish statesman who was Chairman of IPB from 1968-74 and President from 1974-1985 and special advisor to Afri for many years.

Continue reading “International Peace Bureau to Award 2012 Sean MacBride Peace Prize to Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egypt) and Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisia)”

Hedge School 2012: Disarmament, Development and Democracy – Joining the Dots

Afri’s 2012 Hedge School will be organised in partnership with the International Peace Bureau, and will take place on Saturday 17th November. This will coincide with the first ever International Peace Bureau Council Meeting to be held in Ireland.

As our globalised world gets smaller, so the burning issues we are confronted with seem to overlap to a greater and greater extent. How to solve the challenge of poverty without re-allocating some of the huge sums devoted to militarism? How to ensure a stable future for our economies and our societies without taking into account the massive impacts of climate change and resource depletion? How to redeem the promise of a new democratic order in the Middle East and North Africa without ensuring true gender justice? And how can we achieve any of these things without a full, inclusive, transparent democracy? These are some of the issues we will tackle in the Dublin Dialogue.

On Friday 16th the MacBride prize award ceremony will be presented to two women activists from the ‘Arab Spring’ by President Michael D. Higgins.

The theme of the Hedge School will be “Joining the Dots: Disarmament, Development and Democracy”.


Programme / Clár

Saturday 17th November 2012

Woodlock Hall, All Hallows College, Dublin 9

10am: Registration and tea/coffee

10.30am:  Music by Fionnuala Gill, introductory remarks by Joe Murray and tree planting

11am:  Climate, Resources and War (with Rose Kelly, Paddy Reilly and Andy Storey)

1pm:  Lunch

2pm: Non Violent Struggles for Democracy (with Lina Ben Mhenni, Ruairí McKiernan and Tomas Magnusson)

3:30pm: Tea/coffee

3:45pm: Role of Women in the Arab Spring (with Nawal El Sadaawi, Ingeborg Breines and Iain Atack)

5:30pm: Music.  Concluding remarks by Colin Archer

7pm – 8:30pm: Special performance of “The Cambria” with Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha Fox. The Cambria is the story of freed slave Frederick Douglas’ journey to, and through, Ireland. “A powerful theatrical experience…a stirring production” (Irish Examiner). A small admission fee will be charged at the door.

Followed by Irish music, dancing, conversation agus craic!

*** Full details are available in our brochure which you can download here: Hedge School 2012 Brochure ***

As spaces are limited this year, please register for the event either by downloading our Registration Form 2012 and posting it back to us, or by registering online here:

Bhopal, the Leaks and the Legacy: Lessons for Leitrim?

Afri, in association with Love Leitrim, are hosting a talk called “Bhopal, the Leaks and the Legacy: Lessons for Leitrim?” on  Thursday, 27th September, in the Glens Centre in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim at 8pm.

Speaking at this event will be two activists from Bhopal in India who will be talking about their experiences of campaigning for justice for the victims of the Bhopal disaster.

Balkrishna Namdev

A union organizer before the disaster, Namdev survived the gas leak, set up the Gas‐Affected Destitute Pensioners’ Front and continues to work with Bhopal’s most vulnerable survivors.

Safreen Khan

19 year old Safreen inherited the disaster from her gas‐exposed parents and has lived with contamination from Carbide’s factory site which Dow refuses to clean up.  She co‐founded Children Against Dow/Carbide in 2008.

Death of Ireland’s Good Food Sector

Afri supported and participated in the recent mock ‘funeral procession’ which had been organised to mark the ‘death of the Ireland’s good food sector’, following the planting by Teagasc of genetically modified potatoes in County Carlow.

The ‘funeral’ proceeded to the Department of Agriculture where a letter and a spade were handed in calling on Minister Simon Coveney to ‘dig up the GM spuds’ and save Ireland’s reputation as a clean, green non-GM food producer.

To read an article in the Irish Times about this protest click here.

The Elephant and the Mouse

It would appear that Kevin Hegarty occupies the same delusional world as Christy Mahon, whom he quotes, if he believes that coverage of the Corrib Gas conflict is unbalanced in favour of the community rather than Shell and its apologists. The evidence of Shell’s well-oiled and well financed propaganda machine – in which he is an enthusiastic cog – spinning stories aimed at undermining the courageous and legitimate opposition of the local community to this destructive project is clear for all to see.

That Kevin Hegarty is happy to collude with this discredited company, which is synonymous with human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world, from the Niger Delta to the Arctic Circle, is extraordinary. In doing so he conveniently chooses to ignore the fate of Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues who paid with their lives for standing up to Shell and who are appropriately memorialised at the gates of the refinery in Bellanaboy. I recently visited the Niger Delta and saw at first hand the devastation that Shell and other oil companies have wrought and how local communities have been robbed of their traditional livelihoods of farming and fishing as a result of the pollution of their lands and rivers. Continue reading “The Elephant and the Mouse”

An Arrow Through Time

Afri commissioned Choctaw artist Gary (Waylon) White Deer to create this piece entitled “An Arrow Through Time” about the 1847 Choctaw donation to the victims of the Irish Famine.

“There is a teaching among our peoples that says feeding someone is the greatest thing you can do, because when you do that, you’re extending human life. We have to assume they told us of the depths of the famine, touching on the incredible loss of life and the dispossession… these were common themes to my people at the time. Having gone through that deprivation, there was an automatic empathy.


I guess we’re really trying to complete the circle. We don’t know, just like the Choctaw people in 1847 didn’t know, how their modest actions, their concern at the time, would result in something beautiful happening now…


If we can turn those tragedies round that’s the way the circle can be completed, because that’s the way it was started.


It’s an arrow being shot. It might land way in the future.  But someday your children, or grandchildren, are going to walk through time and they’re going to come to that spot where that arrow landed and there’ll be a blessing waiting there for them.”


– Gary (Waylon) White Deer of the Choctaw Nation talking about his people’s contribution to the Irish during the famine years.  

Ten Days That Shook My World

Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha Fox performing extracts from “The Cambria” at Afri’s 2009 Famine Walk in Louisburgh, County Mayo

Earlier this year we – Benbo Productions, Sorcha Fox and Donal O’Kelly – were invited to take our show The Cambria to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (called HIFA) in Zimbabwe, with the support of Culture Ireland, and in the International American School in Lusaka, at the invitation of the Irish Embassy, Zambia. The tour was also supported by Afri.


Day 1:

Monday 30 April

We meet our technical manager Ronan Fingleton at Dublin Airport and we pool luggage to get the combined weight under the limit. Our luggage includes the backdrop, floorcloth, costumes and props for our show The Cambria, about US anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglass’s journey to Ireland in 1845 on the steamer Cambria. We fly on Emirates Airline direct to Dubai, arriving there late evening. In the windowseat, I witness an incredible electric storm over the eastern Mediterranean, and a gigantic oil flare-off in the Arabian desert. Luckily, Sorcha has found a way to get us accommodated for free in a Dubai hotel, because we have a 9-hour wait before flying on to Harare.


Day 2.

Tuesday 1 May

The flight to Harare has quite a few musicians on board, trying to fit their instrument cases into the overhead lockers. The vertical camera facility on the video screen shows amazing images of East Africa from 50,000 feet. The airport at Harare has a 1970s feel, queues forming for immigration booths with early 1990s computers. We queue up with our $55 entry fees, and get our passports stamped. A HIFA minibus is outside to take us all to the Rainbow Towers Hotel, formerly the Sheraton who pulled out of Zimbabwe a few years ago. We meet the HIFA people and they give us HIFA brochures. HIFA is an enormous festival, with bands and acts from all over the world taking part. The theme this year is “A Show Of Spirit”. We’re glad to bring a little of Frederick Douglass’s resilient spirit to Africa, the homeland his ancestors were forcibly torn from by the slave trade.

Continue reading “Ten Days That Shook My World”