Winners of our restaurant voucher competition

Winners of our restaurant voucher competition

We asked for your views on ‘Where to now?’ for Clare and Ireland, as we emerge from lockdown and the new government plans a recovery. Back to normal or radical change?

Thank you to everyone who submitted your views. Last week we published a selection of your submissions: ‘You cannot keep the spring from coming’

We wanted to help support and promote local businesses in Clare and so we promised four restaurant vouchers worth €50 each. We have picked four names out of a hat and we let our winners choose their favourite local restaurant: 

Oonagh O’Dwyer: Joe’s Cafe, Lahinch

Ronan Summerly: Lana, Ennis

Sinead Sheehan: East Clare Community Co-op, Scariff

Theresa O’Donoghue: Hotel Doolin

 

‘Understanding & Challenging Racism’ – Further reading and resources


Understanding and Challenging Racism: further reading and resources


Clare PPN and Fridays for Future Clare
recently hosted an online workshop on ‘Understanding and Challenging Racism’. Lots of people took part and we had a really useful discussion, led by three excellent facilitators, Vicky Donnelly, Ryma Halfoui and Oein de Bhairdúin.
As a follow-up to the discussion, they have compiled a selection of videos, articles, podcasts and other resources you might find helpful. Thanks again to everyone who took part.

VIDEOS

Does My Life Matter?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pjr7OU9N6s
Wexford teenager Noon Abubakar presents a speech she wrote and was due to present at a Black Lives Matter protest march in Wexford. The event was cancelled by the authorities citing that the assembly would exacerbate the Covid-19 pandemic. (June 2020.)

It’s Everywhere
www.youtube.com/watch?v=00HaIYSGiIw
Short powerful video, written and narrated by Racheal Ofori and other Black British people. Entirely relevant to Ireland too.
Racism is everywhere and only when we admit that it’s a learnt construct, and that it exists in everything can we even begin to dismantle it: the overt and the subtly insidious.

Reverse Racism
www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_mRaIHb-M
Many people will claim that racism can work ‘both ways’. The model we looked at during our workshop strongly suggests that it does not. Comedian Aamer Rahman deconstructs the notion of ‘reverse racism’ and what it would take for reverse racism to actually function. He clarifies the links between ideology, colonialism and exploitation, and the profoundly damaging impact of a belief system that elevates white norms, and dehumanises and devalues Black lives, culture, appearance and…everything. All in under 3 hyperbolic minutes.


ARTICLES

Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change (2020)
https://e360.yale.edu/features/unequal-impact-the-deep-links-between-inequality-and-climate-change
An Article exploring the connections between colonial exploitation of land and peoples, making the struggle for climate justice and racial justice inseparable, and links with the disproportionate impact of Covid 19 on communities of colour. Featuring the work of activist
Elizabeth Yeampierre.

I Was Six When I Was First Called A N****R In Ireland (Irish Times, June 2020)
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/i-was-six-when-i-was-first-called-a-n-r-in-ireland-1.4275686
Sean Gallen writes about his experiences of racism in Ireland, from the youngest age.

Black Irish Citizens Twice As Likely To Experience Discrimination (2018)
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/black-irish-citizens-twice-as-likely-to-experience-discrimination-1.3734589
Black Irish citizens are twice as likely to experience discrimination in seeking employment as white Irish residents and black non-Irish people are five times more likely to experience discrimination, new research has found.

A Country Seen Through The Lens Of Direct Provision. (GCN, April 2020)
https://gcn.ie/country-seen-through-lens-direct-provision/
Evgeny Shtorn has first-hand experience of the cruel and inhumane system; he looks at its past and imagines the long-term impact it will have not only on those forced to go through it but on Ireland itself.

Education and Love are Not the Answer (2017)
https://theundefeated.com/features/ibram-kendi-leading-scholar-of-racism-says-education-and-love-are-not-the-answer/
Ibram X. Kendi asserts that, “
Education, love and exemplary black people will not deliver America from racism, Kendi says. Racist ideas grow out of discriminatory policies, he argues, not the other way around.”


Aid, trade and neocolonialism:
T
he following two articles deal with the legacy of colonialism, and the impact of the neocolonial trade rules, tax structures and legacy of debt that continues the flow of resources from the Global South to North:

Let’s Talk About Reparations.” (2015)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/nov/27/enough-of-aid-lets-talk-reparations   

Aid in Reverse – How Poor countries Develop Rich Countries” (2017)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jan/14/aid-in-reverse-how-poor-countries-develop-rich-countries


The Treasury’s Tweet Shows Slavery Is Still Misunderstood (2017)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/12/treasury-tweet-slavery-compensate-slave-owners
David Olusoga on how the modern equivalent of £17bn was paid out to compensate slave owners for the loss of their human property.

Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans (2018)
https://www.teenvogue.com/story/racism-against-native-americans
Details of systemic racism and racist violence direct at Native American communities in the US.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy Mackintosh
https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf
An early article looking at the idea of white privilege by Peggy Mackintosh. “My work is not about blame, shame, guilt, or whether one is a “nice person.” …I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”
First appeared in 
Peace and Freedom Magazine, July/August, 1989, pp. 10-12, a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Philadelphia, PA.

BOOKS

Why I no longer speak to white people about race
by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Me and White Supremacy
by Layla F Saad

I will not be erased’: Our stories growing up as people of colour
by Gal-dem

Queenie
by Candice Carty-Williams

Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernardine Evaristo

Policing the Black Man
by Toni Morrison

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’
by Akala

Dark days’
by James Baldwin

PODCASTS

 Race Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that led to the politics of today.

Intersectionality Matters Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.

Scene on Radio Explores human experience and American society.

1619 An audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.

Hoodrat to Headwrap A Decolonized Podcast with sexuality educator Ericka Hart and Deep East Oakland’s Ebony Donnley.

The End Of Policing – A Conversation with Alex Vitale

Pod Save The People Organiser and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with fellow activists.

Code Switch Fearless conversations about race  

 

ONLINE READING 

 

Who Gets to be Afraid in America? & American Nightmare
both by Ibram X. Kendi

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

It’s Time To Confront The ‘Karen’ In All Of Us: Unpacking White Privilege
by Nathalie Olah

Anticolonial Activism In The Heart Of Empire – Priyamvada Gopal: Black radicals in London learnt vital lessons from rebellions in the colonies, and interpreted for a metropolitan audience

Recitatif – A short story by Toni Morrison which powerfully demonstrates the ways racism is internalised and how it manifests itself in ways such as micro-aggression

Showing Up For Racial Justice’s Political Educational, Toolkit and Resource

1619 Project
An ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very centre of our national narrative.

Feminist Killjoys – Blog of Independent scholar Sara Ahmed, whose area of study includes the intersection of feminist theory, lesbian feminism, queer theory, critical race theory and post-colonialism

MOVIES
(available on Netflix)

13th

American son

Get on the bus

Imperial dreams

LA 92

Malcom X

Moonlight

Mudbound

Strong Island

 

Links & resources related to the Travelling community in Ireland:

 

Behaviours and Attitudes
https://www.exchangehouse.ie/publications_nationaltravellersurvey2017.php

Traveller Homes: Waste of Resource
https://cf.broadsheet.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/jmadigannews1.jpg

Delight of Traveller homes not being built
https://cf.broadsheet.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/f13edb1b-ca77-4adc-958d-5f8287642016.jpg

Annie Furey
https://www.rte.ie/archives/2015/1005/732497-traveller-targeted-in-galway/

Carrickmines
https://www.thejournal.ie/carrickmines-accommodation-problems-2386057-Oct2015/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/some-businesses-including-pubs-close-for-traveller-funeral-1.2404047

Discrimination case thrown out due to accent
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/district-court/traveller-activist-loses-discrimination-claim-against-lucan-pub-1.3938614

Trish Nolan broken lines
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8n-M4sNlGg

——————–

Irish Network Against Racism:
And finally, a resource pack from the Irish Network Against Racism, to better understand racism in Ireland and your role in addressing it:  
https://inar.ie/racism-in-ireland/learn-about-racism/

 

Your views on ‘Where to now?’ for Clare and Ireland

‘You cannot keep the spring from coming’

Your views on ‘Where to now?’ for Clare and Ireland

As political parties were sitting down to plan for a new government, we asked you to send us your views on what direction Clare and Ireland should take as we emerge from the pandemic. Do we go back to ‘normal’ or take the opportunity for major change? Are there aspects of the lockdown that are worth holding on to?

You sent us inspiring ideas and rousing calls for action. Some clear themes emerged, including calls for a national health service, more remote working, creating resilient communities and more local democracy. The most prevalent issue was our environment, with demands for greater climate action, less Roundup on our roadsides, a biodiversity education campaign and more community-owned wind farms.

There was also calls for a four-day week, more workers’ and tenants’ rights and for music and the arts to be part of our recovery.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write to us. Below we bring you a selection of the best submissions. We will now pick four of these names out of a hat for the four €50 vouchers for takeaway meals from local restaurants and will announce those soon.

* * * * *

Michael Callaghan,
Ennis

Going to work is over-rated. Let’s have more remote working. This will help the planet but also the mental and physical health of those who commute.

The five-day week is over-rated. Let’s have the four-day-week as the maximum anybody should be required to do. And the three-day week as the norm. This will mean less unemployment, as the work can be shared around more evenly. And people will be more productive in the fewer days they are working.

The ‘moral hazard’ of giving people money for nothing is over-rated. Let’s have a universal basic income. Let’s at least try it.

Foreign holidays are overrated. Let’s celebrate and encourage holidaying in Ireland. Let’s give up the obsession with Shannon Airport and look for alternative tourism and alternative industries in this region.

Profit is overrated. Let’s remove profit as the deciding factor in whether to keep post offices open. We don’t require parks, libraries or Garda stations to make a profit, so why post offices?

Big business is overrated, for example developer-led renewable energy. Let’s help and support communities to build their own wind farms and solar. In countries such as Denmark and Germany, where most wind farms are owned by the people living near them, wind turbines are popular.

Natural” gas is overrated. Let’s develop offshore wind off the Clare coast and tidal energy on the Shannon Estuary.

The rights of landlords are over-rated. Let’s have a rent freeze and much stronger rights for tenants.

Neat and tidy is over-rated, at least when it comes to roadside verges. Let’s have less cancer-causing herbicide, more wild flowers, more wild grass, more wild growth, more for pollinators to thrive on.

Capitalism is overrated. Let’s encourage and experiment with more collectives, co-operatives and not-for-profit enterprises.

* * * * *

Oonagh O’Dwyer,
Ennistymon

I remember while in college studying Sustainable Development, the profound effect the following words had on me: “Living now that does not have a negative effect on the future”. While that was a few years ago, these words have never been more important or pressing.

What if we were to make Ireland a truly sustainable country to live in and travel to, for society, the economy and the environment? The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN member states in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

With such positive advancements and alternatives in energy, agriculture and economics, and the new resurgence of self-sufficiency since the coronavirus put a halt to our gallop, we have had time to re-address how we live our lives, and here’s hoping it will long continue after the phases have been lifted. DIY, gardening, working from home, alternative transport solutions, cleaner air, and even the simplest of things, seed-saving, all becoming the new norm, skills lost and found. I see this as a golden opportunity to tackle the long-bandied-about climate crisis issues we face in Ireland. Beach closures due to raw sewage or fertilisers from the land, water infrastructure not up to speed, I could go on.

Permaculture and regenerative farming are being seen as real alternatives to our monoculture madness and offer simple yet hugely rewarding ways of living off the land. What about bio-digesters that turn excess effluent into energy to power homes and farms? Explore the sustainable harvest of using red seaweeds to reduce methane emissions from cattle by 60%. Restore our once thriving small fishing industry, so it is not taught as a history lesson! Create retrofit house grants, support for more community energy schemes.

As the recent report arc2020.eu, https://www.arc2020.eu/farm-2-fork-a-truly-green-farming-food-and-rural-vision-for-ireland/ advises, farms can be providers of food, fibre, energy, timber, agro-tourism and recreation. This is a real chance to achieve these goals.

Sounds like common sense to me.

* * * * *

Sam Krawec,
Ennis

We all need to be able to determine the direction of our own lives. This means also having a say in the things that affect our lives. Everyone needs to have a voice in the conditions of our housing, healthcare, education, and employment. Everyone needs to have a voice in the health of our communities and our relationship with the rest of nature. But, as many of us know, this doesn’t happen on its own.

To have a voice we need power. To build power we need mass movements like Black Lives Matter, as well as Extinction Rebellion, the School Strikes for Climate, and so many others. To exercise power we need organisations such as tenant associations, student unions, and labour unions. To do these things we need to figure out which side we are on and who is there with us.

If I could sit down – socially distanced – with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, I would share with them this quote from the late Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep the spring from coming.” I would tell them that, in a way, it is in their own interest to listen to the needs of the people.

In the wake of this pandemic, we need an all-Ireland national health service. To prepare for the economic impact of the pandemic, we need to strengthen and extend the rights of workers to collectively bargain. In the midst of a climate emergency, we need to halt all fossil-fuel related projects and rapidly transition to green renewable energy. If they do not listen and respond to these needs, it is in their own interest to get out of the way.

* * * * *

Sinéad Sheehan,
Scariff

For the first time in the verges of the roadside in east Clare, I saw an orchid. It was the first time the verges had not been cut in the spring, all because of the Covid crisis. Odd that the travel restrictions imposed for the Covid-19 crisis meant there was some relief for the other crises we face – the climate and biodiversity crises.

The verges are now mostly thriving and full of life. I’ve heard another word used too: “overgrown”. Yet it makes absolutely no difference to the human users of that road to have this mini ecosystem in existence but it makes a whole world of difference to the many flora and fauna who can thrive here without harming or hurting anyone else.

Do people know about the biodiversity emergency before spraying the poisonous chemical glyphosate – widely available in local shops in Ireland – all over the declining pollinators’ food, destroying it? If people knew dandelions were of vital importance to pollinators in decline, would they create the dead orange mess outside their homes?

The point I’m making here is we need to take care of biodiversity generally, from the tiniest of insects to the greatest of oak trees. The first step to taking care of anything is education. Most adults don’t know which trees are native to Ireland or which native flowers rare butterflies living in their area feed on. While some grassroots projects are doing their best to reach the population, there needs to be a government-led educational campaign on the other emergencies we are facing, the climate and biodiversity emergencies. We all received booklets telling us how to wash our hands, sneeze into our arms and dispose of our tissues. Now the country needs booklets about what kinds of trees support biodiversity, which species are endangered and what we can do to bring them back.

And if you’re wondering why biodiversity matters, the answer is very simple. Because we are part of it. We are just one more species, and although we have taken over most of the planet now, we need to realise that if we don’t look after the other species who are now struggling here, we too will struggle and may even become extinct.

So I would ask our elected representatives to please create an emergency campaign around climate and biodiversity, a booklet to every door, restrictions on glyphosate and a lot more to promote a healthy environment for us all to thrive.

* * * * *

Theresa O’Donohoe,
Lisdoonvarna

Covid-19 has shown us what communities can do in a crisis as well as how government can trust, respond and support that. Local people played a major part in shaping the national response as teams of people who care passionately about their community jumped into action. They have been working voluntarily for hours on end to make their community safe.

As well as the amazing capacity of our volunteer force, our communities are made up of invaluable front-line workers, innovative teachers, capable students, friendly neighbours, creative entertainers and more, who have all learned to transfer online.

Covid-19 demonstrates how we should act in an emergency. The national health officials deliver the facts every day. The stark reality and required actions were posted to every house and are publicised on every media platform available. People are empowered to understand the gravity of the situation and act accordingly. People are trusted with the information and their capacity to act. The same approach must be adopted for the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

Town councils were abolished in 2014. We need an alternative, with a sustainable development remit, that can co-ordinate emergency response teams. Pandemics are one of many anticipated challenges in the climate and biodiversity emergencies. Being prepared for them is one aspect of the response required. Taking steps to slow them down is another. Local teams are the driving force we need.

We need a national awareness raising campaign telling the truth about the climate and biodiversity emergencies. We need sustainable development and emergency response plans in every single community. We need to build local resilience to ensure our capacity to cope with future shocks.

A government that leads the country on a resilient pathway would be my silver lining. Taking steps now to tell the truth about our predicament, facilitate communities to discuss the challenges and support the actions they decide to take. The policy to support this exists but the political will doesn’t. We need our decision makers to trust the people, trust communities, to shape the national response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

* * * * *

Ronan Summerly,
Ennis

Throughout 25 years as a gigging musician, I have had busy spells and breaks for different reasons but live music was always a constant. As a performer and punter this is the first time that there has been silence.

Some solos artists can perform online from home but if you operate as a full band that may not be an option so all you can do is wait and look forward to a resumption. Another issue is in what capacity live performance can return, as it may not be profitable to feature live music with a very limited audience.

The country is on the first step to reopening but I have not seen a plan to phase the arts back to any sense of normality as yet in any news articles or in any list of phasing for businesses. At the beginning of the year I spoke to a public representative who was looking at the idea of a general Ennis festival covering all aspects of the arts and there was some interest in incorporating Originality Clare and original music into this. Originality Clare is something I set up last year, when I noticed a hole that needed to be filled and had a first night promoting bands performing original music in Ennis.

When we are past this crisis I would like to see talks resume on this and many more matters relating to the way forward for musicians and public representatives, understanding the importance of the contribution of music and arts in general and that it needs to be a step on the road to recovery.

If anybody would like to discuss any points, or any original artists would like to see how we can work together, I can be contacted under Originality Clare on Facebook. I would also like to thank Clare PPN for their ongoing assistance to artists in every form in Clare.

* * * * *

Mary White,
Meelick

Abolish the two-tier health system once and for all. Ireland is for those with extra means and always has been. It’s time for us to abolish this inequality and invest in keeping our doctors and nurses. We need to create a new mentality about serving our own people here and reforming ourselves – something that has never happened. Now is the time to foster a progressive patriotism.

Carbon tax on petrol/diesel at the pumps should be poured into improving rail and bus services and help reduce carbon footprint over time. I don’t support a reduction in the herd and don’t support affecting people’s livelihoods or a 7% reduction which will destroy a lot of people’s jobs and farming. I support meaningful measures over time.

Measures to tackle plastic must be taken and more local produce encouraged.

Reform the secondary school system to give every child a more equal opportunity to actually gain something valuable from secondary education. I support a four-year Junior Cert and three-year Leaving Cert, comprising terminal exams but also continual assessment. Creative teaching must be a goal. Languages must be taught better. Irish teaching must be radically reformed. Teaching must be assessed in a meaningful way. The French, German and Finnish systems should be an inspiration on modeling. Music, PE and Drama must be offered to every single child.

Support power-sharing in Northern Ireland. Promote more all-island co-operation and leave border polls for a post-Brexit future.

Minutes of representatives and secretariat meeting June 3rd 2020

Minutes of Clare PPN Reps meeting 

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Present: Damon Matthew Wise, Emma Karan, Eugene Cremins, Fionnuala Collins, George Atijohn, Hilary Tonge, James Giller, Mary Leahy, Mary O’Donoghue, Noel Kearney, Oonagh O’Dwyer, Padraic Hayes, Madeline McAleer, Sarah Clancy, Sarah Ferrigan, William Hederman

Apologies: Aisling Wheeler, Annie Wise, Elaine Dalton, Helen Liddy, Jean O’Keefe

Facilitated by: Sarah Ferrigan

Minutes: William Hederman

UPDATE FROM LAST MEETING

Suggestions on the Work Plan from the last meeting included: developing a Communications Strategy, both media and social media; encouraging people to support local businesses; encouraging people to protect bees and biodiversity.

UPDATES ON COUNTY COUNCIL, SPCs etc

County Council due to meet next Monday, 8th June, in Glór. SPCs due to start meeting in June. This week a call was also made for the LCDC to meet soon.

Several people said the PPN Reps had been ignored for the past three months. The Council has not involved the voice of the community during the pandemic, when in fact this is exactly when community’s input is needed. Agreed that this should be raised, but noted that councillors are not necessarily the ones to target, as they may also be feeling left out.

UPDATE ON FINANCES & RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Sarah Ferrigan gave an update. Once running/fixed costs have been accounted for, we have approx €4,500, to spend mostly on ‘Training & Development’ and ‘Projects & Events’. This is a low amount.

We have pre-paid €1,800 for training in three areas: Cultural Diversity & Anti-Racism; Local Government; Media. This can be online.

We also have paid for some venues for events. And for some transport with Clare Bus.

DISCUSSION ON WORK PLAN

Sarah Clancy: key ambitions are becoming more effective at having the views of community and voluntary sector taken on board at local authority level; and encouraging participation and a sense of ownership of the PPN among people in Clare.

Open discussion – suggestions were based mostly around:

  1. i) mental health, especially due to effects of lockdown;
  2. ii) supporting people to retrain, refocus careers, an ideas fair;

iii) seminars / webinars

Noel: Can we include in PPN people with mental health difficulties? Also, we should tie in with Aoife Boland of  AIRES Mid West/ HSE.

Sarah C: We can do events around mental health, but note that our role is to influence policy, not to provide service. We need to make sure mental health is considered in all relevant forums. Should we declare that we are a mental health friendly organisation?

Mary O’D: Suggests a poster and a spread in Clare Champion about all the orgs and agencies you can contact if you’re feeling down.

Hilary: Good time to boost the PPN online, as everyone is at home and online. Boost posts. Perhaps a weekly training session; life coaching.

Damon: Disabled People need social events, some don’t use social media very much.

Mary O’Donoghue: Points we are raising here should be expanded and input into Clare LECP (Local Economic and Community Plan), which is up for review soon, and other county-wide plans. Good opportunity to gather people’s views.

Fionnuala Collins : suggests holding an online conference on belonging to a democracy, focusing on the need for open, transparent input and decision-making. Also, we should signpost about options for getting back into the community – classes, social interaction, which places offer counselling, community garden etc

James Giller: Good time to invite public to participate, like the ‘What do we want?’ submissions. Also, pandemic has highlighted discrimination. Ask Council to push for policies to prevent and lessen discrimination. And suggests training for use of online tools.

Madeline: A webinar on ‘Where to post-Covid?’, with follow-up events and trainings, with the PPN leading with the message that community representation needs to be very strong now at decision-making level.

AOB:

Madeline was contacted by a Colin McGann, who is making a documentary on people’s experiences in Clare during COVID:

Please note that we have his contacts but don’t want to share them online

http://www.clare.fm/podcasts/new-documentary-tell-story-clare-covid/

NEXT MEETING: 

Monday 15th June, 2020 at 6:30pm

ENDS

Postcards from the Edge: Willie Hanrahan – ‘We will value the company of neighbours and family in a new light’

Postcards from the Edge: Willie Hanrahan – ‘We will value the company of neighbours and family in a new light’

Postcards from the Edge: Willie Hanrahan – ‘We will value the company of others in a new light’

Social distancing and the closure of marts has been tough, and the drop in farm income is daunting, writes Doonbeg farmer Willie Hanrahan, but the pandemic has made us appreciate how fragile the humanity is and that we can survive without many of the excesses that had become normal

 

Since lockdown began, every morning starts the same. At 6:30 my son Liam (the farmer) leaves the house to start the morning milking. At 7 the rest of us make our appearance, and so the day begins. The major difference from other years is the fact that we have four of our five adult children back living with us. Two engineers and a Leaving Cert student. Makeshift offices with internet access have been installed.

In general the lockdown hasn’t affected our working day to any great extent – the work is the same, cows calving and calves to be fed and tended to, cows to be milked and grass to be managed. However, when we need supplies from the hardware and co-op shop we have to stand in line and socially distance, which is hard and strange as farming is a solitary life and we tend to embrace any bit of social interaction with enthusiasm.

The closure of the Mart has been one of the biggest losses to farmers as a means of selling animals and meeting likeminded people. This has been replaced with online bidding, but the social interaction is not the same. The bargaining and posturing are missing and the enjoyment of closing the deal is gone.

Online selling might be the future, but this lockdown has shown us that maybe we are not quite ready for that lack of human contact. Going to mass on Sunday morning made us stop for a while and put on the Sunday best – maybe not for the prayers but again to see a few familiar faces and catch up on the week’s gossip.

The drop in income in every sector is very concerning. Cattle and milk prices have taken a hammering and the uncertainty will have far-reaching consequences. There will be no on-farm investment this year which will have an effect on other businesses such as building and plant hire.

This lockdown has shown us that we can survive without a lot of the excesses that had become normal. Eating out, foreign holidays, leisure activities and running and racing to every cat-fight, wherever it was happening.

If there are positives in this it has to be that we will value the company of our neighbours and indeed family in a new light. Simple conversation and interaction on WhatsApp can be interesting. The Saturday night quiz has become the in thing at the moment.

The powers that be also thought the world would end if the M50 wasn’t jammed every morning and the sky wasn’t black with the congestion of planes in the sky. Everyone was looking for the soft target to blame for climate change, but now we hear the skies are clearer and the air is cleaner after just a couple of months of lockdown.

It’s time to stop blaming agriculture and the poor cow for all the problems of pollution. The whole aviation industry has to be looked at, and cleaner ways of transporting people and goods have to be found. Our whole mindset and ways of doing things have to be changed.

My chief concern for the future is not climate change, although that needs to be addressed in a common sense manner, but the realisation that we were so susceptible to a virus. Covid-19, although very serious, did not wipe out civilisation. If it were a virus like ebola or some even more serious illness, we would be in dire straights, especially if it was transmitted through the air we breathe. We as a human race are very fragile indeed.

On a lighter note it is time for a general election as Fine Gael is past its sell-by date. We have a Taoiseach who has lost touch with the people, doesn’t know where rural Ireland is or how it survives, and craves holding onto power to the extent that he would sell out rural Ireland and agriculture to keep himself in the limelight that he loves.

Willie Hanrahan is a former Chairman of Clare IFA. The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of Clare PPN.

 

We’d like to hear from you! Back to normal or time for radical change? We’re asking people for their views (in less than 350 words) on how to move forward together in Clare in the wake of Covid-19. You can win a €50 restaurant/take-away voucher. Details of how to submit here: http://clareppn.ie/what-do-we-want/

Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm”

Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm”

Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm’

Living in direct provision means Aung Marma is more vulnerable to infection from Covid-19. He worries, but also keeps calm by taking exercise, keeping busy and meditating

My name is Aung Marma. I was born in 1991. I’m originally from Bangladesh. My ethnicity is Marma, which is one of the 13 ethnic groups in Bangladesh. My religion by birth is Buddhism.

Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim, and for that reason most of our ethnic groups have to face fatality from Islamic extremists and we don’t get justice for what happened to us. Which is why we migrated to neighbouring countries, India and Burma.

As we are Buddhists, the impact of Islamist extremists came on us. Once we were attacked in 2003. Then I went to Sri Lanka for my safety and for further studies in 2008. And I started my studies at university level. In 2016, when I went back to see my mother who was sick, I was attacked by some Muslim settlers and I had flee to Burma for my life.

And from Burma I made a false passport and returned to Sri Lanka. From Sri Lanka I came to Ireland in June 2019 for my safety and to raise my voice for our people, who are suffering at the hands of extremists and are seeking refuge from the world. I hope my voice will be heard by the whole world someday.

So now I am here in Ireland, living as an asylum-seeker and living in the direct provision system.

Living in direct provision means you are more vulnerable to being infected by the Covid-19 virus, since we have to live with many people in the same building.

The Irish Government has taken the initial steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and the managers and workers in our centre have taken all the precautions to prevent infection from the virus. Honestly, I do not have any objections to the management and to the authorities.

I know this pandemic affects different people in different ways. I have seen that some of my friends seem very stressed worrying about their families and their

future. I do also worry, but I keep myself calm, knowing that the pandemic will be over sooner or later.

In Buddhism, the Buddha has taught us about Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering) and Anatta (constant change) – in this world every phenomenon is changeable and not permanent. If one comes to understand the truth as truth, so they can live in calm.

So my idea is to keep myself busy by doing activities. When you’re staying home, do some physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise can be done by yourself and mental exercise can be done by practising meditation. Meditation helps people to understand the reality of things by being attentive to what’s

going on around you. And meditation also helps you to see the impermanence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to ask people to be wiser and calmer to face this disaster and to take every precaution imposed by the authorities. I thank the Government of Ireland for taking the initial precautions for preventing the pandemic. And I would also like to see the laws and rules continue to be implemented until Covid-19 has been completely uprooted from Ireland.

I am well aware that people have reasons to break the rules of government, but if we break the rules we will have to face more fatalities from coronavirus, that is for sure. Therefore, we must be far-sighted and act wisely.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of all of the Clare PPN.

• We’d like to hear from you! Back to normal or time for radical change? We’re asking people for their views (in less than 350 words) on how to move forward together in Clare in the wake of Covid-19. You can win a €50 restaurant/take-away voucher. Details of how to submit here:
http://clareppn.ie/what-do-we-want/