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EventsParticipatory Democracy

Hundreds attend Winter School events over three days exploring issues around Irish Unity and solidarity with Palestine

‘New participatory structures need to be built across society’ to give people a voice over the direction of the country

Scoil Gheimhridh Uí Chadhain, (Ó Cadhain Winter political education school) concluded on Saturday evening (27.01.24) with a concert in Aid of Palestine after a hugely successful three day programme of debates and discussions. The school, in its second year, seeks to ensure deeper participation of working class communities in the ongoing discussion around Irish unity and social justice. This year there was also huge significance placed on the ongoing genocide in Palestine, with concerts, debates and film screenings dedicated to this issue.

Eoghan Ó Garmaile, a member of the organising committee, said:

“We are overwhelmed and thrilled at the resounding success of our second winter school, building on the success of last year’s events. The levels of participation and engagement around the key issues facing our society was heartening and inspiring in equal measure. We covered issues from mental health to housing; the climate crisis as well as the future and emancipatory potential of the Irish language; the importance of preserving Irish neutrality and how issues of class need to inform the current debate around Irish unity. We plan to build on these important discussions in the time ahead and found a significant hunger for such participatory forums amongst the hundreds of activists who took part in the winter school these past few days.”

“We also provided platforms to express our collective indignation at the ongoing genocide in Palestine. To this end, we are delighted to have raised over £2000 for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNWRA) which recently had its funding removed from many western nations following an outrageous attack on them from Israel. Any discussion around unity must be rooted in our committed internationalism which shapes our solidarity with other oppressed peoples and nations. We are extremely grateful to the amazingly talented musicians who performed for us free of charge to help raise these funds in our night for Palestine, which brought the Winter School to a close.”

Prof John Barry, who spoke on a panel as part of the school said:

“I am extremely grateful to the West Belfast organisers of this wonderful winter school for giving me the opportunity to participate in such important community discussions. It was an incredibly inspiring event and the engagement from both speakers and audience members alike reaffirmed my belief that there is a pressing need for new participatory structures to be built from the bottom-up, across our society to allow broader sections of society, particularly those on the margins, the opportunity to help shape and inform how we meet some of the most pressing and existential problems facing us.

Scoil Gheimridh Uí Chadhain is an important step in right direction and I look forward to further engagements in the future.”

Information about the Ó Cadhain School

Named after the radical Irish language and socialist republican, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, the Ó Cadhain Winter School is in its second year. Our goal is to provide a democratic and inclusive platform for activists from various fields of public campaigns for a New Ireland based on the guiding principles of ‘Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity.’ Last year, Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis was the guest speaker at the first Ó Cadhain School.

This year, the School was launched in the Lon Dubh Café (Raidió Fáilte) on Thursday, 25th January at 7pm with guest speaker from Palestine, Khalid El-Astal, and the film ‘Palestine is Still the Issue’ by the late John Pilger.

On Friday, there was a panel discussing the important campaign ‘A New Script for Mental Health’ in Cultúrlann at 12.30pm.

There was a full day of discussions Saturday beginning with lunch at 12pm and a book launch from Dr Eliz de Young, and Mansoor Adayfi, a Guantanamo Bay veteran, was in conversation with Clare Daly at 7:30pm. To finish, there was an incredible night of solidarity with Palestine with a concert which raised over £2000 for UNWRA.

The full program can be found here

For more information, contact:

Eoghan Ó Garmaile



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