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Sweet Treats for all this Easter?

easteregg_2868022bMost of us look forward to chocolate at this time of year, however, before we all get cracking on Easter celebrations, let’s consider the global supply chain – from  cocoa farming to the Easter eggs we buy for our loved ones, and choose to enjoy chocolate which is produced fairly without exploitation of others.

Chocolate and Human trafficking

Most of the chocolate we buy is produced from cocoa grown in West Africa where farmers can earn less than $2 a day. This in turn can result in farmers resorting to child labour and slavery to keep their prices competitive in the global market. This drive to keep cocoa prices low is fuelled by multinational companies and consumer’s desire and expectation of low cost chocolate. In the West, chocolate has become a low cost everyday item, often produced at the expense of other humans.

Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is a crime which violates human rights. Thousands of children are trafficked to harvest cocoa beans. Children as young as 5 are forced to work long hours, in dangerous conditions with no pay and no access to education. Impoverished families in Ivory Coast, West Africa can be duped by traffickers into believing their children will earn money and receive education if they work on cocoa farms, some children are abducted from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali- two of the poorest countries in the world. Some children will never see their families again.

What is being done to combat child labour and human trafficking in chocolate production?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) works in partnerships with multinational companies aiming to combat the worst forms of child labour. Whilst many of the major chocolate manufactures are working towards combating trafficking and child labour in the supply chain, only a small percentage of products have a guarantee that the chocolate is fairly produced without human trafficking and child labour.

What we can do here in Donegal ?

Join the campaign to put pressure on chocolate manufacturers to guarantee all chocolate is fairly produced, and find out where in Donegal you can buy chocolate such as “Fair trade”- visit WWW.stopthetraffik.org

Human Trafficking is a crime which can take place anywhere, including areas such as Donegal, where recent arrests were made following reports of human trafficking and labour exploitation here Letterkenny.

We all have a role to play in being alert to the possibility of trafficking crimes and to report any concerns to Crimestoppers:  Tel: 1800 25 00 25, E-mail: Blueblindfold@garda.ie, www.blueblindfold.gov.ie.

The most common forms of trafficking are for: sexual exploitation and  forced labour.

Some of the barriers to potential victims of trafficking escaping :

  • Not knowing how to access help
  • Fear of retaliation by the traffickers to the victim or their family back in their home country.
  • Fear of deportation due to undocumented migrant status or passports/documents being withheld from the victims by traffickers or others.
  • No English- victims may have little or no knowledge of the local language.

Some of the signs of human trafficking- (for further info. see www.blueblindfold.gov.ie):

  • Women or men living in groups in poor conditions and working very long hours.
  • Women or men dependent on their employer for all their basic needs such as food, accommodation and transport.
  • Women or men living in the same place as they are working.

In The Long Run :- Ending human trafficking ‘one step at a time’

“In the Long run” is a Belgian based Oasis project, where a  team of runners, who have travelled over 1,000km along a major international human trafficking route, aim to  raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, and provide information to communities about the issue of human trafficking.

The Donegal Anti Human Trafficking Group is welcoming the “In the Long Run” team to Letterkenny on 30th March 2016. Donegal YouthCouncil will be hosting an event and have invited the “In the Long Run” team to highlight the human trafficking issue.

 For more information see: ‘Donegal Anti-Human Trafficking Group’ on Facebook and ‘In The Long Run‘.

This feature was written by Catherine Brown as part of our Women’s Lives series to raise awareness to the local and global crime that is human trafficking. 

Happy Nollaig na mBán

This blog first featured in the Women’s Lives section of the Donegal Democrat in January 2015, By Samantha O’R

While waiting to be served in a shop I overheard two young women talking about how they had survived Christmas.

One woman had a young child in a buggy. He was smiling and happy with the attention being given to him by his mother and her friend.

In the discussions about managing over Christmas, I heard that both women spent Christmas at their mothers’, with one of the women saying “Sure where else would you go.”

This statement got me thinking. I was immediately struck by the thought /feeling/question: do mothers in particular get put upon at Christmas time without being asked?

Is there an assumption that mothers will automatically accept all-comers without prior arrangements or request. I know it is the season of goodwill and giving hospitality to visitors and family is a noble thing/gesture to do. But somehow the expectation is there; food, drink, accommodation, presents, babysitting, etc.

Perhaps young women would consider asking their mothers before Christmas “would it be okay to spend Christmas with them” as a courtesy and a consideration rather than as a given.

Little Christmas exemplifies the need for all women to get together for their own celebration after the sometimes burden and mayhem of big Christmas.

In celebration of the feast of the Epiphany in Ireland, January 6th is marked by Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Little Christmas. It is the tradition in Ireland that on this day for the women to get together and enjoy their own Christmas, while the men folk stay at home and handle all the chores. It is also common for children to buy their mothers and grandmothers presents on this day, though this custom is gradually being overtaken by Mother’s Day.

Although Nollaig na mBan is slowly dying out in many parts of Ireland, in Co. Cork, the tradition is still very strong. Many bars and restaurants in Cork City report a near 100% female clientele on this day, as the Corkonian women meet up with girl friends, sisters, aunts and mothers to celebrate their own little Christmas with Nollaig na mBan.

In Sligo, women got together in Osta Café and Wine Bar for the celebration and proceeds from fundraising on the night donated to Domestic Violence Service Sligo. Women in Ballyshannon also took the opportunity to mark this occasion and leave the menfolk at home.

In Donegal Town, Anne Leonard, who is part of the Walking Women of Donegal and The Mountcharles Heritage Group decided ‘to the take the bull by the horns’ this year and organise one.

“It was only last year when the Walking Women’s group first heard about it and agreed we must do something for 2014,” she said.

“So when nothing was happening I decided to get the ball rolling. I texted women I knew ‘I’m going if anyone wants to join me, let me know’.”

Over 35 women attended a sit down meal in the Abbey Hotel. A raffle was also organised and the €220 raised has been donated to Childline.

Little Christmas Donegal Town

Some of the Ladies who attended the Women’s Little Christmas Donegal Event in 2015

Eileen McGonigle said: “It was great fun and great to connect with women you hadn’t met for a long time as well as getting to know others better.” So good was the night that the Abbey Hotel already has a booking for 6th January 2015. Anne said: “It was a marvellous night, we had women travel from Ballyshannon and Glencolmcille. I hope we will have more women to celebrate with us next year.”

What a lovely way to start the year celebrating with other women and appreciating each other’s company.

We know that Christmas can be a stressful time but perhaps mothers at Christmas need a little bit of consideration before everyone descends on the home with a view that everything will be done and an attitude of “Sure where else would you go”. Alternatives on a postcard please!

Rock the boat

imageThis blog feature was  first published in the NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network ‘Women’s Lives’ section in the Donegal Democrat News Paper on 17th December 2015

By Nuala Redmond

For more than a month now, there have been half a dozen foreign super trawlers fishing off the west coast of Ireland. The two biggest trawlers in the world are still here. Nuala Redmond hopes to rock the boat.

When life seems out of control, the big beautiful ocean can bring a unique perspective. For me, all becomes clear – whether I’m getting beaten up by a huge Atlantic swell, or whether the sea is calm and quiet. In Donegal Bay, I’ve seen dolphins, sharks, whales, seals, tuna and over 40 species of fish while working aboard Prospector 1.

My work involves bringing groups out sea-angling. The people who come aboard to fish are very often fishing for their freezer – some are fishing for leisure (these fish go back to the ocean) – but most of the catch is gutted and brought home to feed the families of our customers.

There are many of us who make a living from the sea here around Donegal Bay. And it’s a delicate balance – the sea, like a boat, will not be kind to those that are not kind to her. The sea, like a boat (or a woman), responds well to a little tender loving care.

We all depend on there being a reasonable chance of catching some decent fish, so when we see a posse of super trawlers fishing off our west coast for weeks at a time, we get a little worried. A super-trawler has a factory onboard and can stay fishing in the same place for far longer than any other vessel, enabling it to practically empty the fishing ground.

Our valuable fisheries are in danger of being depleted, affecting coastal communities in far-reaching ways: we have small trawlers fishing locally and supplying locally in areas like Killybegsand Rathmullan (these, by the way, are severely restricted in their quotas and species, and are boarded and inspected regularly). We have charter sea-angling boats filled with tourists expecting to catch fish. We have sight-seeing tour boats expecting to see dolphins, whales and seals – oceanic life is some of the most beautiful on earth. And we have hotels, pubs and restaurants catering for the people who come to do these things.

Super trawlers (pelagic freezer trawlers) have a quota for scad and horse mackerel on our west coast. They are allowed fish off our shorelines up to 12 miles offshore. When the fishing ground yields no more, the ships move on – but all the other fish and mammals (including dolphins, whales, sharks and tuna) that depend on scad and mackerel as a food source will also move on. My fear is then that supporting businesses built around a healthy oceanwill eventually collapse.

The by-catch on these vessels is cruel – seals, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and many fish for which they have no quota ­– die and are damaged in their nets. Recently, an Irish fisherman’s gear has been caught up and destroyed in a super trawler net. EU regulation 812/2004 refers to the need for an onboard observer to be present to monitor the by-catch, but it is unclear, and this week Simon Coveney has agreed to ‘explore’ putting observers on these vessels. The Irish Wildlife Trust is seeking clarity on this matter from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority. Don’t forget, in 1991 Charlie Haughey declared all Irish waters to be a whale and dolphin sanctuary.

Perhaps it is impossible to get a total ban any time soon, it seems to be out of Irish politician’s hands, or so they say. Simon Coveney has refused to meet us to accept our petition (now almost 35,000 strong). It looks like our fight is to be with the EU. It may be prudent to limit our campaign to a few key points: extend the 12-mile zone to 40 or 50 miles; clarify the position and time-frame of the requirement for onboard observers; lower the quota for foreign boats in our waters; restrict the number of super trawlers to be allowed to fish in the one area at the one time; and open up some (currently banned) fisheries for our own small Irish trawlers.

For me, a fisherwoman in Donegal Bay, I feel privileged to be able to work with the sea and work among sea-creatures. I love my fish, I catch them and I help others to catch them, I kill them and I eat them. I always put the babies back and I never waste a fish. I support sustainable fishing industries that give regional jobs in coastal communities. I support life at sea.

Nuala Redmond works with her partner Peter Power onboard the charter angling boat Prospector 1 operating out of Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, and is part of the campaign ‘Stop Super Trawler on Irish Waters’.