Foreign Affairs

Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Foreign Affairs, Human Rights

Five Planes at Shannon Airport 26/10/2016


Today at Shannon airport, we are contributing to the pain being suffered by thousands of women and children like the Syrian lady described below. There are no less than six United States war planes at Shannon this evening at about 4pm. Two are US Navy C40 cargo and troop transport aircraft, numbers 5832 and 8981, and these arrived at Shannon last night from Sigonella Air base in Sicily Italy, and probably from the Middle East before that. Most likely they are on their way back to the USA to collect more war materials that will be used in the ongoing assault on Mosul in Iraq. The next one is also US Navy, a Hercules C130 number CW4994. Then we have two US Marine Corps Hercules KC130 mid air refuelling tankers, numbers QB 7984 and QB 5736. If these two refuelling tankers are heading for the Middle East then they are probably joining the nine other mid air refuelling tankers that passed through Shannon airport in June this year. Their main purpose is to refuel fighter and bomber aircraft in mid air, so they can spend even more time dropping bombs and missiles without having to return to base to refuel. These two arrived at about 3pm this afternoon. These five aircraft are being protected by an Irish army patrol, accompanied by a Garda patrol car on Taxiway 11. Meanwhile at the main terminal building gate 42 a large Kalitta Air, Boeing 747-222B cargo aircraft on charter to the US military arrived at Shannon yesterday, from Texas, via Prestwick in Scotland. This Kalitta air plane took off again from Shannon at about 7.30 pm this evening. Looks like the peoples of Syria and Iraq are in the process of having a lot more air attacks in the coming days and weeks, and we in Ireland are giving the United States full frontal cooperation at Shannon airport in its business of killing and destruction.

I was a student, once.
I graduated from a prestigious university and shook hands with its founder when I received my diploma.
Now my hands grasp at others’ unwanted clothes;
Cling desperately to donated gifts for my children;
Shove aside other mothers who might win these prizes instead of me.
I was a teacher, before.
I taught English to Syria’s brightest and used up the electricity marking books late into the night.
Now strangers speak to me slowly, like a baby, asking “Do…you…understand?”
And I fool myself that I’m sleeping when night falls
And there is no light but the stars’ to see by.
Really I am doing the same as in daylight, just on my back.
I was a neighbour, back then.
I made baklava and brought it to Aleema when she was ill.
We car-shared on school runs.
Now I live next to strange men who shout and fight late into the night, whilst I clutch my children;
Next to foreign women who pull my hair and accuse me of cutting in the lunch line.
I was a woman, long ago.
I wore make up, I went shopping with friends in Damascus.
I brushed my black hair before a dressing table mirror.
Now I wash with wet wipes.
I search for donated shoes that fit; style is a rare and happy coincidence.
I queue to use portable toilets filled hourly by thousands of ill and unwashed strangers.
Those that bother to use them, at least.
I was a wife.
Ahmad brought me bracelets from the market on his way home from work.
He got grumpy when I woke him in the morning but smiled when he heard me singing.
He hugged our children,
And kissed me before he left,
And went out humming, as he always does.
As he always did.
Now I tell my name to the English girl before me and shake my head when she asks for my husband’s.
She nods and tries to look understanding. But what can she understand?
This girl, barely more than a teenager,
Never having known war, never having loved, never having had to run from chaos to strife, never having lost?
What can she know?
But then I remember, and I forgive.
For I was her, once.

Dáil Debates, Health, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Dáil Issues, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Prisoners

Human Rights, Prisoners

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace attended a District Court case at the Criminal Court of Justice, on Wednesday, 19 October – a case taken by the DPP, in relation to allegations that Leon Wright, currently a prisoner in Block A, Portlaoise Prison, had assaulted a prison officer in 2013.
Initially we had been contacted by Leon’s solicitor, raising concerns that his human rights were being violated, in relation to the manner in which his custody was being handled and the segregated nature of his incarceration.

We had been to visit Leon in Portlaoise and felt that it was important that we should go to the Court case and observe some of the allegations which had been repeatedly made about him, in relation to his behaviour towards prison officers. The case against Leon was thrown out by Judge Alan Mitchell, who was deeply concerned at what he had heard in court, and requested that a transcript of the digital audio recording be provided by the Court Service, with a request that the matters raised might be of concern and warrant further investigation by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly. The judge identified inconsistencies in the testimony of the prison offers. Leon’s defense counsel, Emmet Nolan claimed that Leon was stripped naked and beaten by the prison officers.

We were utterly shocked at some of the evidence presented in court. We believe it raises serious issues concerning the manner in which Leon’s incarceration has been handled. Prison policy is supposed to be dictated on the basis that people are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment, that the time spent should be used to try to rehabilitate that person into society. At present, Leon is in 23 hour solitary confinement and receives no education. We firmly believe that serious damage is being done to this already damaged individual and believe that it is absolutely critical that he is reintegrated into the prison population and entitled to access education and other developmental courses. Leon is scheduled to be released in about eighteen months. Would it not be a more positive approach to give him some of the necessary help now, rather than more punishment, that may have the potential to make him worse when he returns to society?

We know that this badly damaged individual has a frightening history of acts of violence. It goes without saying that we believe that all prison staff should be able to work safely, free from threats and violence. Our intervention is motivated by a desire for a safer environment for prisoners, staff and society at large.

Clare Daly.
Mick Wallace.