Reflections from Féile Bríde 2024

Afri’s annual Féile Bride Peace Conference entitled ‘The Light of Peace amidst the Clouds of War’, organised in partnership with the Brigidines and Cairde Bríde, took place on Saturday, February 10th, 2024 in the beautiful Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town. 

The Brigid 1500 milestone comes at a critical time for humanity and for our planet. Brigid’s message of peace and her care for the planet were never more urgently needed than today. Our planet is crying out for care and compassion. Our determined opposition to the scourge of war is essential, if we as a species and our planet is to survive.

Féile Bríde 2024 takes place under the shadow of an ongoing genocide in Palestine. It is almost impossible to find terms to describe the horror of what is happening in Gaza but these words from Rev. Munther Isaac in his Christmas Day homily from Bethlehem give some sense of the horror and of the betrayal: “We are watching live images of the execution of the people of Gaza… We are tormented by the silence of the world…Leaders of the so-called Free World have lined up to give the green light to this genocide against a captive people”. He went on to say that ‘silence is complicity’ and we (the people of Palestine)’ will not accept your apology after the genocide’.

How have we come to this sorry pass? How has our world reached a point where we can watch a genocide unfolding in front of our eyes and not only remain muted but where most ‘Western’ leaders offer support or silent acquiescence?

It has happened, I believe because we have not taken seriously enough the urgency of peace. We have opted out, thinking peace is too complicated and handing it over to others. And the ‘others’, eagerly waiting to fill the vacuum are the proprietors of the weapons industry, the war mongers and their puppets in government.

And as we watch the horror of Palestine, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and many, many places around the world, what is our own government’s response? It is not to promote disarmament, demilitarization and de-escalation but to join the chorus and beat the drums for war, to move ever closer to NATO, to shred our neutrality, to abandon peacekeeping with the UN, to break the ‘Triple Lock’ and to build a weapons industry in the Republic of Ireland. And they claim that this is compatible with ‘Pausing for Peace’ in Kildare on the feast of Brigid the peacemaker.

The first Féile Bríde took place in 1993 while war raged in our own country. The Good Friday Agreement brought not only an end to war but it brought hope and a new beginning, showing that dialogue works where war fails. The demand to put weapons beyond use and abandon all violence was echoed again and again by our Government. Knowing what we know, how cynical to now consciously and deliberately develop a war industry in Ireland to visit the same pain, despair and suffering on other people – usually the poor in the Middle East or the Global South. How Shameful: Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.

Joe Murray, Afri Coordinator

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