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Naming the Unnameable: Poetry and the Refugee Crisis

Photo: Cayuco approached by a spanish Salvamar vessel (June 25, 2008) by Noborder Network. CC-BY-2.0 (via Wikimedia).

Photo: Cayuco approached by a spanish Salvamar vessel (June 25, 2008) by Noborder Network. CC-BY-2.0 (via Wikimedia).

The experiences of people seeking refuge are near impossible to understand for those of us whose lives have never been disrupted by conflict.  Who do we turn to then, to make sense of such suffering?  Salman Rushdie suggests that it is, “A poet’s work … to name the unnameable,” and so here are some suggestions of pieces that may help to delve deeper into the shocking images conveyed on the evening news. More…

Notes from Kampala: Reflections of a gendered walk

Photo: PC035354 (Dec 3, 2006) by Stefan Gara. CC BY-NC-ND via Flickr.

Photo: PC035354 (Dec 3, 2006) by Stefan Gara. CC BY-NC-ND via Flickr.

I was out walking the dog this morning. It was a particularly hot morning as the rains haven’t quite taken force. It was lovely and quiet with very few people around. Kampala is always quiet on weekend mornings.

Snoopy is 15 years old, so for an Mzee (old man) of 105 dog years the walk can be a bit of a drag, especially given that Kampala is built on a series of hills. More…

An SDG Guide – for starters!


The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Summit is upon us and all eyes will be on the Paris meeting and its potential wrangles, challenges and outcomes.  Given the debates that characterised the previous Millennium Development Goals agenda, the temperature is likely to hot up with national governments now discussing the SDGs – 17 goals that might fundamentally change the world by 2030.

As with the MDG agenda, this provides those of us involved in development education with a rich and engaged agenda upon which to discuss and debate many of the world’s key challenges.

At developmenteducation.ie we intend to follow the debate on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development offering information, analysis, debate and resources to support the agenda and to offer opportunities for engagement.

First off, an initial guide to the SDGs. More…

Infographic: which kind of activist are you?

Which Activist Are You FINAL Outlined.eps

Links mentioned in the infographic

Read up on global issues, visit:

Find out what you can do in response to humanitar­ian crises. Visit howyoucanhelp.ie

Volunteer locally or volunteer online. Visit volunteer.ie  and volunteeringoptions.org

Some general sources


Note: the activism infographic was produced by developmenteducation.ie and Dóchas as part of the European Year for Development.

A reflection on my privilege

Refugees Welcome sign by  Social Justice Group, Loreto Secondary School from St Michael's Navan at solidarity rally to welcome refugees in Dublin (Sept 12th, 2015). Photo: Grace McManus)

Refugees Welcome sign by Social Justice Group, Loreto Secondary School from St Michael’s Navan at solidarity rally to welcome refugees in Dublin (Sept 12th, 2015). Photo: Grace McManus)

I decided to go in to the ‘refugees welcome’ protest last Saturday in Dublin, partly because I really care about this issue, partly because I knew I had to write this blog, and partly because, as my mom likes to joke, I love a good protest. I wondered who would be there – I imagined the solidarity there would be amongst groups and I contemplated whether any refugees would see this event taking place and know that at least some Irish really mean the Fáilte we extend to them. More…

The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean: 5 things you can do right now.

‘In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.

The horrifying image of the little boy drowned trying to flee Syria has gone viral in the last twenty four hours. People are outraged and rightly so. It is important we turn that outrage into action. But what can we do?

1. Sign this petition: https://uplift.ie/refugee-crisis

Ireland has allowed a disgracefully low number of refugees into Ireland over the next two years (the current number reported is 520 refugees). German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised the Irish intake of refugees in the common European asylum policy, as Germany is now expecting to take in 800,000 migrants in 2015 alone. This petition is a collection of Irish voices saying that we demand that Ireland can facilitate thousands of refugees (closer to 1% of the population just as Germany is), not hundreds.

2. Find your local donation organisation.


There is emergency aid of blankets, tents, food etc being sent to refugee camps around the world. Irish people are historically quite good at donating in times of emergency, and this time should not be any different. Here is one example of where you can donate http://www.gofundme.com/9zwfscys. Social media is also a great place to find your local donation centre.

3. Attend your local solidarity march

Politicians need to know that this issue is important to Irish people. By marching we show that this is an issue worth addressing. We also show that we will not be silent when such travesties are happening in the world. The next march in Dublin has been organised for September 10th.

Find your nearest group (and add new ones under this thread) for info local collection points for aid (set to depart for Calais on 29th or 30th Sept from Ireland) and) discussions and the kind of goods needed for sending:

Again most marches are organised on Facebook so make sure to search for your local one, and if you can’t find one why not organise your own?

4. Challenge anyone who says ‘Oh but Ireland has its own problems, we can’t afford to help’.

There are two ways to approach this sentiment. The first is with the facts. Ireland is a wealthy country. We do not have to pick between ‘helping our own’ and ‘helping them’. We could instead choose between the extreme wealth of some people in Ireland and helping all those who need it. There is enough money in the Irish economy to ensure the basic needs of Irish people and refugees. The problem is that the wealth is not shared equality, instead it is concentrated within the hands of a few. This is our problem, not ‘others’ crossing into our borders.

The second approach is to point to this Facebook status from the Irish Housing Network.


This group are the front liners for Irish housing crisis. So if anyone justifies their position of anti-refugee by referencing Ireland’s housing crisis, let them know that their views don’t match the official campaign line. Humans are humans, we all deserve a home.

5. Stay informed.

This issue has been a problem for many years. It is important that we do not let the issue live in our minds for only one day. There are infographics, news outlets (see Guardian coverage) and organisations that you can check out to keep up to date on the crisis. Keep the conversation going and spread the word.

Connect for change – NYCI and UNICEF event for young people and the 2030 development agenda

Grace McManus reports from an event for Ireland’s post-millennials on preparing for the era of the sustainable development goals, organised by UNICEF Ireland and the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).


Some of the participants during the introduction (Aug 7th, 2015) Grace McManus.

Some of the participants during the introduction (Aug 7th, 2015). Photograph: Grace McManus

Three Friday’s ago a group of young people met in the lovely building of the ombudsmen for children,  primed and full of energy to get working with other young people on the sustainable development goals (SDG) 2030 agenda. For more on the SDGs themselves check out my previous blog piece.

Orla Murphy, one of Ireland’s recently appointment Youth delegates to the UN, welcomed the group and spoke enthusiastically about her want to bring perspectives of young people in Ireland to the UN in September. Afterward, Leo Gilmartin from Phoenix Youth Project got everyone talking during the fun and quirky ice breaker session.

We were straight into work than as two young activists delivered the ‘World’s largest lesson’ to the group. The world’s largest lesson aims to have children across the world all learn about the SDGs the week of September 27th. We brainstormed problems in Ireland, and then decided collectively which of the SDGs each problem was addressed by.

The workshop gave a great overview of the goals as well as facilitating their application in practice for us in Ireland. More…

Earth Overshoot Day 2015 – it takes 1.6 planets to support humanity’s demand on nature…but we only have one.

Infographic 1: sourced on the Overshoot Day website (2015): http://www.overshootday.org

Infographic 1: sourced on the Overshoot Day website (2015): www.overshootday.org

Six days from now we will have used up our ecological budget for 2015.

Our ecological footprint is how much we demand from nature. Presently, we consume 1.6 planets worth of earth’s resources.

Overshoot occurs when:


Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services (Ecological Footprint) in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year (biocapacity).

Once again, World Overshoot Day offers us the chance to measure, explore and debate the growing gap between our demand for ecological resources and services, and how much the planet can provide.   More…

Peace and Peace Matters – the Global Peace Index Report 2015

Source: global economic impact of violence in 2014 - infographic, p64 in 2015 Global Peace Index report.

Source: global economic impact of violence in 2014 – infographic, p64 in 2015 Global Peace Index report.

For the past 8 years, the Global Peace Index (GPI) has been prepared by ‘think tank’ the Institute for Economics and Peace (HQ Sydney with branches in New York and Mexico) focused on the measurement of peace, its causes and its economic value.  The Index ranks countries according to their level of peacefulness using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators for some 162 independent states, covering 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index measures peace using three broad themes – the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation. More…

Ireland’s newest political parties just aren’t compatible with Ireland

Photo: newspaper headline screengrab from Irish Independent (July 22, 2015).

Photo: newspaper headline screengrab from Irish Independent (July 22, 2015).

Migration is a human rights issue. The universal declaration of human rights outlines that humans have a right to social security, a right to work, a right to an adequate standard of living and a right to an education. People who find themselves in countries where these rights are not being met may have to migrate to another country where they have a hope of having these rights vindicated.

Ireland ranks the 11th most developed country in a world of over 190 countries. We have it pretty good in comparison to everyone else. Yet we would refuse these human rights to immigrants should its newest party Identity Ireland get its way. More…