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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…

Read this: the GENE Review 2015

At the request of Irish Aid, the Global Education Network Europe (GENE) are in the process of carrying out a peer review of Development Education in Ireland that will inform Irish Aid’s future strategy in this area.

The Irish Development Education Association (IDEA) has played an active role in ensuring that the voice of the sector is reflected in the review and that, through its Task Groups (Adult and Community Education, Formal Education, Youth task groups), as many actors as possible from across Development Education in Ireland have been involved in the process.

Find out more and read the submissions online.

Read this: on religion and social change

Photo: I miss you my master...by Matthew Fang (Sept 30, 2007). CC By-NC-ND-2.0 license via Flickr.

Photo: I miss you my master…by Matthew Fang (Sept 30, 2007). CC By-NC-ND-2.0 license via Flickr.

I spotted Michael Edwards’ article on opendemocracy.net last week that’s well worth a read. It explores the role of religion in social change, titled Will the left ever get religion?.

And to whet your interest, a few quotes:

Why does religion drive so many people nuts? That’s the question that opens and closes our debate on religion and social change. On the surface the answer is obvious, at least for progressives—it’s because of the damage that’s been done by religion to the causes they hold dear: independence and equality for women, gay marriage and LGBTQ rights, peace and protection from zealots and fanatics, and safety in the face of sexual abuse. How come the ineffable being is always a bloke with a beard who privileges others who look the same as him? Religion has become the mother-lode of patriarchy, stupidity, homophobia and all things conservative.

But the opposite is also true: religion gives tremendous strength and staying power to the struggle for equality and social justice. It’s a force that makes people go to jail for their beliefs, break into nuclear weapons facilities and daub biblical slogans on the walls, found social movements that change society, organize workers to stand up for their rights, and confront dictators at the cost of their own lives. Religious groups are also the mainstays of health, education, social welfare and community-level conflict prevention in many countries. For Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and many others, religion isn’t incidental to social change, it’s pivotal—it’s the reason why they are willing to give so much to the cause. More…

Successful Futures – a new opportunity in Wales?

The Wales Alliance for Global Education (WAGE) held its first successf_futures_coverseminar in Cardiff on 9th July 2015. Colm Regan of 80:20 and developmenteducation.ie was invited to make an input to start the day off.  He, like others that day reflected on the recently published Donaldson report, Successful Futures.


Professor Graham Donaldson was commissioned by the Welsh Government to undertake a review of curriculum.  As he puts it in the introduction:

“My proposals are radical and wide-ranging. They are interrelated and should be seen as an integrated set and not separately. They build on the many existing strengths of Welsh education and aim to provide both a vision for the future and a means of realising that vision that is coherent and manageable.” More…

‘Unofficial Ireland and our sense of ourselves…’


They say the past tells us a lot about the present.  Queuing at immigration in the early morning at Lusaka International Airport in Zambia highlights the point.

Having submitted my passport, the immigration officer comments ‘Ah, you’re Irish, I was taught by the brothers’ – no visa required for Irish visitors.  My Northern Ireland colleague was not amused, travelling as he was on a UK passport and having to pay for an entry visa.

This experience is not unusual throughout Africa, or indeed for that matter in many parts of Latin America and Asia – at least those parts where Irish missionaries and aid workers have been active.  In such regions of the world, Ireland is known for the helping hand it has extended in education, health, agriculture and human rights – it is, as we say, part of what we are, at least in their eyes.  More…

Encyclical with a distinctive ‘edginess’

Photo: poster image taken from In Words and Deeds: 100 Years of Catholic Social Teaching – a poster pack (1991) Trócaire, The Irish Jesuits The National Conference of Priests in Ireland and the Catechetical Association of Ireland.

Photo: poster image from In Words and Deeds: 100 Years of Catholic Social Teaching – a poster pack (1991) Trócaire, The Irish Jesuits The National Conference of Priests in Ireland and the Catechetical Association of Ireland.

With his encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (available online as a long-form letter) Pope Francis has entered the fray not just on the environment and its future but also more broadly on the ethics and impact of dominant models of economic development and ‘extreme’ consumption.  His encyclical highlights the fact that our fossil-fuel based, ‘throwaway culture’ coupled with our ‘irrational confidence in progress and human abilities’ and a ‘blind confidence in technical solutions, is ‘actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, even more limited and grey’. 

In keeping with the vast bulk of scientific research and evidence, Encyclical_cover Francis argues that climate change is not just a ‘global problem with serious implications’ for people and planet, but is also based on substantial and growing international inequality whose impact is felt disproportionately by the world’s poorest people.  It is also rooted in a perverse logic that insists on short-term gain for some at the cost of long-term loss for all.

Contrary to much of western popular perception and (ill-informed) debate, he highlights the reality that the resources and wealth of poorer countries continue to fuel the development of richer countries at huge present and future cost.  He calls on the rich of the world to recognise the impact of their wealth and way of life and begin paying their ‘grave social debt’ to the poor by taking concrete steps on climate change and sustainable ways of living.

‘The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.’