Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back to Brussels

Carla Goffi is now back in town, so we are staying in her lovely guest suite - we have our own kitchen, bath, bedroom, and living room - I can't imagine a better place to be!

Sam Biesemans and Carla Cazzaniga had us over for dinner with Carla Goffi and Gerd Gruene, president of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objectors.

Gerry is preparing for a press conference with Members of European Parliament who are sending a letter to President Obama and other American officials - asking them to allow the UN Special Rappateur on Torture to have a private meeting with Bradley Manning.  The press conference scheduled for Wednesday November 3, 11:30 am in the European Parliament press room.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Our final days in Dublin

On the way from Cork to Dublin, we saw the most amazing rainbow!

Roger Cole and Nuala Dempsey hosted us for a night and formal dinner with Fergus and Teres MacAigan.  All are  with the Peace and Neutrality Alliance.  We had a lovely time and got to know a lot about the organization.

We spent our last two nights with Bill and Dot Fine, American expats who head up the Servas organization in Ireland.  They invited Glenda, her friend Arthur, an aspiring Irish actor and our mutual friend Cristina, for dinner with us.  Cristina is Italian and also a member of Servas.  We joined Servas - it is a way for guests to stay for two nights with a host and get to know each other as a way to promote friendship between people of different countries in order to reduce conflict and avoid war.  As such, the guests and hosts have progressive values and very meaningful stays together.  We became members of Servas while staying with Bill and Dot.

We went to the Egyptian Embassy to participate, as Veterans For Peace members, to protest against the police killings of Egypian protesters in Tahrir Square.  Glenda was there, too.  Gerry was interviewed by an independent journalist.

We toured Kilmainham Jail, which was a good way to continue our Irish history lessons. Many heroes of uprisings for Irish independence were imprisoned here, and some were executed.  Other prisoners included women and children who may have stolen a loaf of bread to feed their family.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cork, Ireland - Occupy Cork, Solidarity Books

Cork has a lot going on and we had opportunities to learn a lot as well as speak.  Our hosts were James and Virginia, and there is a 3rd housemate who is out of town.  James works at Solidarity Books and is part of the socialist anarchy organization - Gerry and I gave a talk at the bookstore - I was able to present the Bradley Manning topic, so we are sharing the podium now.  Gerry also spoke at Occupy Cork.

Pictures from Occupy Cork

We didn't get to spend much time with Virginia, but she is involved with the Kinsale Transition Town, as a teacher of permaculture.

We finally got to met Veronica Kelly!  We met at a cafe to get acquainted, then the next day we met for dancing to a blues band - it was wonderful!  Her husband Serge joined us for a short while as well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ring of Kerry

We took a bus tour today around a peninsula near Killarney.  It was beautiful scenery, although all day mostly on the bus and not enough time just to relax and enjoy the scenery.  However, we're both really happy we did the trip and we got to see more of the west coast of Ireland, this time further south than the Cliffs of Moher.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On vacation - Killarney, Ireland - a truly beautiful part of the world!

It's time to relax for a couple of days before proceeding on to more activist events, so we took a bus from Limerick into Killarney in the Southwest of Ireland.  We walked for a few hours around Muckross Lake, the smallest of the three main lakes in this area.  We walked along the biggest lake before getting to the small one, and at the end were given a ride back into town by some guys who are clearing the area of invasive rhododendrons.  Here's a slideshow of the hike.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Causing trouble in Ireland: VFP joins other protesters at Shannon airport

Limerick Ireland newspaper: US war veterans to protest in Shannon

Shannon airport is used to transport an average 600 U.S. troops per day to/from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as extraordinary rendition flights for purposes of torturing captives.  It is a CIVILIAN airport and these flights compromise Ireland's neutrality - the Republic of Ireland has not taken sides in a war since becoming an independent country in 1949.  Not only that, but the US military only pays $250 per flight, a fraction of the cost of using the airport.  The airport is about $8 million in the red.

An amazing amount of information is available at Shannon Watch, which, along with other anti-war groups, organizes a monthly vigil at Shannon Airport.

The action went well!  There were 20 of us and three media people - from Limerick Leader, Irish Times and an independent journalist.  We walked up to the Garda (Police) guarding the road into the airport and asked under what law they were preventing us from entering.  They were under an oath of silence, so they apparently don't know why they stand at a barricade monthly to prevent the ShannonWatch people fron marching down the road to the terminal. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to Occupy Dame Street, Dublin

During the meeting with the Irish AntiWar Movement in Dublin last week, it was suggested that Gerry speak to Occupy Dublin, so he did tonight.  Pictures Their main point of discussion tonight has to do with whether to participate in a labor union march in a couple of weeks.  It was great to see how the real democratic process works here.

Occupy London

We joined Occupy London for awhile and Gerry gave a little speech of solidarity from U.S. Veterans For Peace.  Ciaron O'Reilly, who has been doing direct actions for many years, joined us and helped us stay the night at the London Catholic Worker House.  He was involved in the destruction of a Boeing plane that was at Shannon CIVILIAN airport being used to transfer troops to Iraq and Afghanistan against the policy of the Irish government to remain neutral with respect to these wars.  Other planes that go through Shannon are doing extraordinary rendition flights to take people to be tortured.  The Pitstop Ploughshares five were acquitted because they were doing the action to prevent a greater harm.

Ely and Lavenham, England

We made a quick hop from Dublin to London and then went up to visit a friend in Ely, Jill, and her dog Lambchop.  Jill took us to the most crooked place in the world, Lavenham!  The buildings are not straight, square, or plumb and go every which way - it's a wonder people can even walk around in their houses!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gaza flotilla support and Irish AntiWar Movement

On November 4 we attended the Dublin rally in support of the most recent effort to break the Gaza blockade.  Several good speakers informed us of the current status and politicians spoke in favor of the flotilla actions.

Gerry spoke before the Irish AntiWar Movement right after the rally.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sligo, Ireland - Gerry and Helen visit Stella

Sligo is a charming town with wonderful people, especially Stella Carroll and her family!  Stella lives a few miles out of town.

Stella had just started fostering a 5 week old kitten when we arrived and was bottle feeding it about every two hours.  She has two permanent residents, Luna the cat and Murphy the rockhound dog.  We also got to meet two of her kids and her 6 year old grandson, Fionn, who is quite a crack-up comedian!
We had a long walk with Stella and  Murphy, going through an old Abbey and graveyard.

Murphy's favorite game is chasing rocks - yes, he has a lot of damage to his teeth and has had to have them removed from his stomach.  Unfortunately, a Rottweiler followed us for a long way and wouldn't go back home and after about 1/2 mile or so Murphy decided to attack her.  He ended up with a sore leg in the process.

We dressed up for Halloween and went to a bar where Stella's daughter and her band played 50's bee-bop music.  We danced the whole time, then went and heard some Reggae music at another venue, getting home well after 2 am.