Song at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2017

Karan Casey sings her new song “Mother Jones” at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2017.

The new song was in the course of completion when Karan was asked to sing it at the Maldron Hotel during the 2017 festival.  Well done Karan.

 

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Photos from opening day of the 6th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School

Above: The Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Tony Fitzgerald, Tony Fitzgerald being presented with an ornamental urn containing earth from the grave of Mother Jones at Mount Olive by Jim Goltz of the United Mine Workers of America – on the opening night of the 6th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival at the Maldron Hotel, Cork, last night. Photo via William Hammond.

Julianna Minihan

Julianna Minihan who gave a most interesting talk about the life and work of U.S. social reformer and campaigner Florence Kelley,

James Goltz

James Goltz with framed proclamation from the International President of the United Mineworkers Union of America. This and two other proclamations presented by James to the Cork Mother Jones Committee can be seen in full on the Spirit of Mother Jones festival website.

Ethel Buckley

Ethel Buckley of SIPTU who gave an informative lecture on “Revitalising the Labour Movement”

Ed Byrne (ASTI)

Ed Byrne, outgoing President of the ASTI who spoke on “Challenging Injustice, Inequality and the Unethical”

Ann Piggot makes presentation to James Goltz

Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones Festival (and former President of Cork Council of Trade Unions) presents a memento to James Goltz on behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

Ann Piggott presents Ethel Buckley

Ann Piggot makes presentation to Ethel Buckley on behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

Ed Byrne of the ASTI with presentation from the Cork Mother Jones Committee presented by Ann Piggott of the committee.

The Environmental Battle in Cork Harbour

Anti-Incinerator demo

Anti-incinerator protest at Carrigaline, Co. Cork, 2016

As the wider community around Cork Harbour continues to await the decision of An Bord Pleanala (State planning board)  in relation to the planning application by Indaver Ireland to construct an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Councillor Marcia Dalton of Cork County Council will address this issue on Thursday morning 3rd August at the Maldron Hotel at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School.

Cork Harbour is a beautiful place and home to tens of thousands of people. It is a large natural harbour extending from Cork city to the Atlantic Ocean at Roches Point. Dotted around it are towns and villages, the best known are historic Cobh, Crosshaven, Monkstown and Passage. In past centuries the British Navy long recognised its importance and its ability to provide protection and it created an impregnable series of forts around the entrance making it one of the most important naval bases and ports on the west of Europe. It has been a trading port for centuries and hundreds of thousands emigrated from Cobh (formerly named Queenstown) in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Almost 50 years ago, many questioned the Government decision to designate areas of Cork Harbour as a centre for heavy and polluting industry and sought answers as to why the quiet Ringaskiddy Village area was selected as the centre for a deep water port. Located near the south western entrance of the Harbour this small village and community was the furthest location on the harbour from existing road networks, infrastructure such as rail links and connections to the rest of Ireland. That road infrastructure is still not fully in place and Ringaskiddy village itself is now virtually cut off from the harbour.

Already then located on Haulbowline Island was Irish Steel and while it provided many hundreds of jobs, its legacy to the harbour has been a large toxic island comprised of 650,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste, which is only now being finally removed. This had given rise to fears for residents and workers health.

Ringaskiddy demo

One of many anti-incinerator rallies at Ringaskiddy

The simmering resentment over the creation of industrial dumps in the area came to national prominence at the Battle of Barnahealy in May 1978, when a forceful attempt to dump asbestos waste (from the Raybestos Manhattan factory in Ovens, near Ballincollig), in spite of a protest by 200 local people organised by the Ringaskiddy Residents Association resulted in violence. The asbestos loaded dump truck from the factory some 35 Kilometres away was driven through the permanent picket of local people including many children, resulting in nine people being treated in hospital. The asbestos factory closed in 1980.

The harbour became associated with the vociferous campaign against pungent odours and pollution from some pharmaceutical plants during the 80s, even as the Merrill Dow plans to establish a factory in Killeagh further east in County Cork were defeated by environmental groups in 1989. There followed a vigorous campaign against the Sandoz factory incinerators by the Cork Environmental Alliance (CEA) in the 90s.

The sustained efforts by local groups such as Responsible Industry in Cork Harbour (RICH) and the CEA and many other community organisations contributed to the then creation of a Department of Environmental Protection and the establishment by its Minister Mary Harney of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency in 1993 (EPA).

Cork Harbour

Cork Harbour (not to scale)- the Indaver incinerator site at Ringaskiddy is highlighted with a star.

Former RTE Today Tonight journalist, Jerry O’Callaghan in his 1992 book The Red Book…The Hanrahan Case against Merck, Sharp and Dohme” concluded

“Cork Environmental Alliance may have lost the battle to stop Sandoz but they probably won the war. In future it is difficult to imagine any chemical projects getting past the praetorian guard of environmentalists without the most thorough inquisition”

Just a year later, on the morning of 6th August 1993, the Harbour exploded back into public consciousness, and exposed the failures to enforce environmental regulations, when the huge explosion and fire at the Hickson Pharmaceutical Plant to the south of Ringaskiddy village created international publicity. It was a miracle that this accident did not result in a major damage escalation and disaster in the lower harbour as water to fight the flames ran dry. For a critical period that morning, the Cork County Council Report acknowledged that there was “a severe lack of water for firefighting”.

Stunned into action both the public authorities and a more progressive industry devoted resources to improving the situation under the watchful and wary eyes of local residents and local environmental groups. The situation gradually improved and tourism, leisure, business, environmental and educational based projects slowly brought about the realisation that this was the way to improve the local harbour economy and create sustainable jobs.

Indaver fire Antwerp 2016

Massive fire which followed an explosion at an Indaver incinerator near Antwerp, Belgium in February 2016

Then in 2001, Indaver Ireland, a Belgian owned incineration company, submitted plans for a waste incinerator just a kilometre from Ringaskiddy village, close by the Irish Naval Headquarters at Haulbowline, within Cork Harbour. The Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE), an alliance of local groups was established to oppose this incinerator.

Described by Frank McDonald, a former Environment editor at the Irish Times in his 2005 book (with James Nix), Chaos at the Cross Roads as “the biggest battle in Ireland so far has been fought over Indaver’s hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy”, the drums of the battle still reverberate daily in Cork Harbour over 12 years later.

A further generation of local people, young and old, has now spent almost 17 years of their lives fighting this incinerator, through three permission applications, through An Bord Pleanála (the State Planning Board), through the Environmental Protection Agency, through the courts in Ireland and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of euro have been raised from voluntary efforts and spent and irreplaceable time lost to their families as ordinary people wade through thousands of complex documents as official deadlines for submissions come and go!

LÉ Niamh at Haulbowline

Irish Naval patrol ship LÉ Niamh at the Irish Naval base at Haulbowline less than a kilometre from the Indaver incinerator site

The third planning application for an incinerator to burn 240,000 tonnes of various waste streams was submitted by Indaver Ireland to An Bord Pleanála on 13th January 2016 and a further public planning enquiry Oral Hearing was held during April/May 2016 in the nearby town of Carrigaline. This was particularly noteworthy for the completely united front of Harbour residents, young and old, politicians of all political parties and a wide range of social, educational, tourism, trade union and cultural organisations and the Irish Department of Defence which expressed total opposition to the project.

During the 17 day Oral Hearing, very serious flaws in the Indaver planning application were exposed in spite of the behind closed doors consultation between Indaver (involving at least six pre-application consultation meetings since 2012) with An Bord Pleanala, permitted under the fast-track Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006.

Toxic legacy

Toxic Legacy – slag heap from former Irish Steel plant on Haulbowline seen from Spike Island. Photo: John Jefferies.

Tuesday evening April 26th 2016 (Day 6) of the Oral Hearing was described as “electric” by Caitriona Reid in her recent book “Our Third Fight” as dozens of local residents vividly and angrily described to the Planning Inspector how their community had suffered through bad planning over the decades.

Indaver demo

Protest outside Indaver site, Ringaskiddy

Residents have now spent 60 days at oral hearings into various Indaver incinerator applications and have repeatedly stated that they have no trust whatever in the Indaver Ireland company.

To date a fourth decision deferral has been made by An Bord Pleanala (August 10th 2017 is the latest decision day!)…… and so will continue a new round of the battle in what may already be the longest running environmental battle anywhere in Europe…..the battle for environmental justice in Cork Harbour.

 

Councillor Marcia D’Alton, is an independent Cork County Councillor based in the Passage/Monkstown area. Marcia is an environmental engineer and one of the opponents of this project. She will tell the story of this saga when she talks on Thursday 3rd August at 11am at the Maldron Hotel. Her presentation will form part of the “Environment Day” on that date at the Spirit of Mother Jones 2017 summer school.  

 

By Admin.

 

Dates for Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2017 announced

The 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will be held from Tuesday 1st August (Mother Jones Day) until Saturday 5th August. The full programme of events will be announced in Spring 2017.
 
The Cork Mother Jones Committee wish to thank everyone who assisted in any way with the 2016 event. We want to thank especially our speakers, musicians and singers and we appreciate very much the huge numbers of people who attended the events. We enjoyed five wonderful days in the Shandon community. The Committee is now looking forward to the 2017 Festival and summer school and if you have any ideas or suggestions for 2017, please forward for consideration to us via motherjonescork@gmail.com   

August 1st – Mother Jones Day

Days Posters 2016_Page_5

Today, 1st August, is Mother Jones Day in Cork and it is also the final day of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2016.

There are just three events on today’s programme all of which will be held at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon.  We start at 4.00pm with a showing of Tadhg Barry Remembered – the story of trade unionist, socialist and Irish republican Alderman Tadhg Barry who was shot dead by a sentry at Ballykinlar prison camp in November 1921, just hours before he was due to be released.  The documentary was made by Cork based Frameworks Films.

At 6.00pm we show The Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals Highlights 2012-2015 which features some of the memorable moments of the first four years of the festival. Our thanks to Frameworks Films who have recorded a huge amount of material at the festival since 2012 and who have similarly created a repository of film recording Cork’s present and recent past which we are certain will become a huge resource for this city.

At 7.30pm Bandon born author and award winning journalist Justine McCarthy will deliver a lecture on “Greed is Good for Nothing”.

 

All of today’s events are at the Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street in the Shandon area of Cork and are completely free.

Some photos from the first 3 days of the festival

Laurence Fenton

Laurence Fenton who spoke about anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass who spent some time in Cork in the 1840s

 

Richard and Jimmy

Two troubadours – singer / songwriter / historian Richard T. Cooke (left) who is also a member of the Spirit of Mother Jones committee with one of Cork’s “national treasures” Jimmy Crowley as they prepare for Jimmy’s performanceat the Maldron at lunchtime on Friday – and he did not disappoint!

 

Luke Dineen

Historian Luke Dineen who gave a fascinating lecture on Saturday on the Irish Post Office strike of 1922

 

Lord Mayor with Jack O'Connor

Cork’s Lord Mayor Des Cahill with SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor at the Mother Jones plaque on the opening day last Thursday (Photo: William Hammond)

 

Pat Egan, Dave Hopper, Durham, miners, Mother Jones, Cork

Pat Egan from Unite, the Union, Scotland accepts the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2016 on behalf of the late Dave Hopper and the Durham Miner’s Association. Pat will be forwarding the Children of Lír inspired award to the association. Making the presentation was Ger O’Mahony of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

 

Tish Gbbons and Ann Piggott

Tish Gibbons from SIPTU’s Strategic Organising Department (right) receives a presentation from committee member Ann Piggott

 

Dr Sean Pettit

Widely respected veteran Cork historian Dr. Sean Pettit gave a most interesting talk and slide show presentation on “The Cork City of Mother Jones”. Dr. Pettit enthralled the capacity crowd with his lecture and some very rare old photos of Cork city were shown.

 

Crowd photo

Shot of the crowd who packed in for Dr. Sean Pettit’s talk.

 

Anne Twomey

Anne Twomey of Shandon Area History Group who gave lots of new information on the story of the little-known but very important sisters Sheila and Nora Wallace and their role in the struggle for Irish independence

 

Bernadette Wallace (right)

We were delighted to have in the audience Bernadette Wallace (right) who is the niece of the sisters Sheila and Nora Wallace. Her presence gave a sense that the links between the past and present are much closer than we sometimes realise.

 

Day 3 at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Days Posters 2016_Page_3

Today is the 3rd day of the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones festival in Cork.  The first two days have been most interesting and have attracted large crowds including a number of international guests.

Today’s events begin at 11.30am with local historian Luke Dineen who will talk about the 1922 Post Office strike which was the first major industrial dispute in the history of the state.

At 2.30pm we have Anne Twomey of Blackpool Historical Society who will tell the story of the Wallace Sisters.

At 4.00pm we will show Yvette Vanson’s documentary The Battle for Orgreave which deals with the disturbing events at Orgreave during the UK Miner’s Strike. Pat Egan of Unite, the Union, himself a former miner will talk about the events.  We will include here a tribute to Dave Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miner’s Association who was due to speak again at this year’s festival but died suddenly earlier this month.

At 7.00pm Randall MacLowry’s film The Mine Wars will be shown. This tells the story of the West Virginia mine wars of the early years of the 20th century in which Mother Jones herself championed the rights of the miners and their.

To finish off the day, at 9.00pm a musical treat is in store with John Nyhan, Mick Treacy and Friends who will perform and sing “Songs of the Mining Tradition.

The festival continues until Monday evening, 1st August – Mother Jones Day.