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.
The event ran from 10am to 4pm (press conference 9.30am) and featured a line-up of inspirational speakers, music, poetry and theatre. Former President and ex UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson spoke, in addition to performances by renowned Irish music act Kila; Glenstal Abbey based singer Noirín Ní Riain; poet Colm Keegan; theatre from the school children of Scoil Eoghan in Moville, Co. Donegal and the Derry based Bag-a-trix group; more music and song from the Naked Voice Choir, Majella Murphy and the Discovery Gospel Choir; and talks by broadcaster Shalini Sinha and a range of youth and community activists including John Monaghan from the Pobal Chill Chomáin community group in Rossport, Co. Mayo.
(Full line-up info: http://possibilities.ie/social-forum/ )
Over 1200 tickets for the event sold-out within 5 days of going on sale on February 1st and organisers worked to ensure social inclusion by allocating the remaining 800 tickets at low or no cost to excluded, youth, community and campaigning groups throughout the island of Ireland.
Speaking in advance of the event one of the organisers, Ruairí McKiernan from SpunOut.ie, said the event came at a critical time in Ireland’s history when we all need to stand up and be counted:
“Ireland is in crisis. Whether it be in economics, environment, church, politics, health or education, this country is in fire fighting mode with no meaningful solutions in sight. We can no longer wait for the political system to fix our problems. Politicians have a role to play and need to work with the community but it is really up to the people of Ireland to stand up and be counted, to start walking the talk when it comes to creating the social changes that are so badly needed. If we want to fix the economy, stop youth emigration and suicide, have decent health and education services, deal with climate change and global inequality then it’s up to all of us to become more vocal and active in making that change come about. We need to seize this opportunity and claim our power as citizens”.
“All significant social changes in history have come about because of the mobilisations, demands and participation of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. We are at a huge turning point in our history and there are enormous possibilities to dream a new vision for Ireland, to create more just and equal foundations, and to transform our personal and collective situations. Our event aims to catalyse individual and collective action for change and to help create a wider civic movement for people power.”
The POSSIBILITIES initiative is self-funded through ticket sales and partner organisations’ contributions. Organisers welcome appropriate support to help further explore the initiative, which also includes the www.possibilities.ie website, which will be developed as an online social change hub, and the distribution of 6,000 copies of a free 60 page social change publication.
The event was streamed live online via a free live webcast on www.possibilities.ie
More information www.possibilities.ie