by Steven Dinnie
Two sets of protesters targeted Alistair Darling during his appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 24 August.
Citizens United Against Cuts made their stand within earshot of ex-Chancellor Darling while he was in public conversation with journalist James Naughtie about his latest book. The other protest, by pro-Scottish national campaigners was staged outside the venue in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
Police and site security were jumpy, but did not intervene in either case. Alistair Darling’s new book describes his time as Labour Chancellor during the financial meltdown. He is also the face of the Better Together pro-union campaign.
In a politically-charged evening, Citizens United Against Cuts, who have previously occupied various banks, including RBS and Band of England’s offices in Glasgow, disrupted the second half of Alistair Darling’s question and answer session. While the group’s leader, Sean Clerkin, loudly stated their case in the festival’s main courtyard, other members of the group held banners with slogans saying: “Close tax avoidance loopholes” and “Banksters must be prosecuted”.
Citizens United were thwarted in their original plan to gain entry to the session to challenge Alistair Darling directly. However, people exiting the event said the noise could be heard by Mr Darling inside. Despite repeated invitations to talk with the protestors, Mr. Darling did not do so. Bemused members of the public watched the protest, some cheering encouragement. others shouting retorts.
The other protest group had an ‘Abominable NO man’, as well as a very long banner. Mr. Darling declined to comment on either protest.
Members of Citizens United Against the Cuts said they were fighting for justice for ordinary people, who have been wronged by the bankers. They commented that “a casino banking culture is being propagated with a loss of benefits for working class people and bonuses only to rich bankers and politicians.” Members claimed they wanted to bring banks to justice by being charged with fraud.
Alistair Darling was at Festival to promote his book ‘Back From the Brink – 1,000 days at Number 11.’ The discussion with James Naughtie was in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sponsored tent. Several high-profile political guests were in attendance, including ministers of the Scottish Parliament. Sean Clerkin criticised the event for being sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. He pointed out that RBS is likely to be taken to court in the US in a continuation of the Libor interest fixing scandal. He also lambasted Alistair Darling’s book in which the former Chancellor describes saving Britain from economic collapse. The protesters wanted to alert Mr. Darling to the suffering of citizens because of cuts implemented on his watch in government and continued by the current Coalition administration.
Crow Road Pharmacy in the West End, has won a professional award for its outstanding travel clinic. The chemists – J. A. Hogarths – like to wish their customers a ‘healthy holiday’ and offer specialised clinical services such as yellow fever vaccinations and malaria treatment.
The judges in the Scottish Pharmacist Awards praised pharmacist Mhairi Speirs and her team for their walk-in style travel clinic and their dedication to the community by helping people make ‘informed and professionally guided decisions about their own health.’
Collecting the prestigious Business Initiative Award at a ceremony in Edinburgh, Mhairi said: ‘I feel so honoured and absolutely delighted to have received this. I am just thrilled. We have had really positive feedback in the clinic. We have a wide-ranging demographic among our customers so it is great to be able to offer the service to everyone.’ She added: ‘local schools seem to be going further afield for long trips. So we’d love to work with them to develop the clinic.’
Lentfest continues with exciting music and drama.
Don’t miss the only performance of the hauntingly beautiful Stabat Mater by Pergolesi in Glasgow this year. It will be sung on FRIDAY 16 March at 7.30pm, by two soloists from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who are giving their last performance in the city before going to London to join London Opera companies. Both alumni of the Conservatoire and having graduated with distinction, Soprano Maria Kozlova and Mezzo soprano Beth Baxter will be with the St Patrick’s Ensemble in the glorious acoustic of St Mungo’s Church in Townhead.
This will be the premier of a new Stabat Mater setting by young Scottish composer George Tongchai Duthie and was commissioned by St Patrick’s Ensemble for Lentfest this year. In 2009, the group made its sold-out debut in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars’ Kirk. They were subsequently invited to perform the Vivaldi Four Seasons at the Usher Hall in May 2010. In November 2011, the ensemble returned there to perform works by Vivaldi, Dvořák and Hans Gál.
Tickets £8 (£5 concessions) available from 0141 554 1333 or email@example.com
The interest in Lentfest events this year has been an exhilarating experience for the organisers. Said Stephen Callaghan, Lentfest Director: ‘The growth and demand has been almost overwhelming. There has been response from almost every dioceses in Scotland and interest from Venezuela, Russia and Italy. For some people the event they attend this Lentfest may be their only experience of Church for a year. I believe the Holy Spirit is at work.’
Among the drama events is the absorbing production of the Martyrdom of St John Ogilvie. Written and produced by Lentfest director Stephen Callaghan
himself, it is based on the dramatic events that surrounded the death of Scotland’s martyr, John Ogilvie, who died at Glasgow Cross in 1615. Because the actor rehearsing to play the part of Ogilvie, had to move to another part of the country at the last minute – the understudy Stephen Callaghan – had to step in by default. Performed by AGAP Community Theatre which includes many people who are acting for the first time, the touring production can be found on the following dates and locations among others: Saturday 17 March at 7.30pm St Gregory’s, Wyndford; Sunday 18 March at 2.00pm (Matinee) St Martin’s, Renton; Friday 23 March at 7.30pm St Helen’s, Langside; Saturday 24 March at 7.30pm St Lucy’s, Abronhill. For full details and for the entire programme for Lentfest check the website: www.agap.org.uk/lentfest
Saturday 3 March – Sunday 4 March 2012
Peace and Quiet
Stillness of Body, Mind and Spirit in the Busy World:
Inspired by the Lives and Teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the Middle Eastern Spiritual Traditions.
Facilitator: Rev Prof Stephen G Wright RN RCNT RNT DipN DANS RPTT MSc FRCN MBE, University of Cumbria, Carlisle. Founding Editor: “Spirituality and Health International,” Chairman: The Sacred Space Foundation.
Venue:Mull Room, Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB.
Dates: Saturday 3 – Sunday 4 March 2012.
Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Retreat Days: 10am-4.30pm.
Cost: £80 (both days), £40 (per day).
Registration Form: http://www.eicsp.org/downloads-org/category/192-mesp-2012-registration-forms
On-Line Booking: http://www.eicsp.org/mesp-2012-retreatworkshop-events-
Contact: Neill Walker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0131 331 4469.
This two-day retreat will take us deeper into what it is to experience inner peace and how to sustain this in a world where so many demands are placed upon us that take us off centre. Drawing inspiration from the Middle Eastern Spiritual Traditions of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, we will explore ways to become more still in body and mind, how to keep our hearts open amidst the challenges of life that would otherwise make us close down, how to listen more deeply to ourselves and each other and to the “still small voice” within. Over the two days we will have an opportunity to draw upon the teachings of our own experiences, the wisdom of the contemplative tradition, and many different reflective and meditative practices from different spiritualities that can heal those parts of us which are broken, come to inner stillness, and draw closer to the “peace that passes all understanding.” Bringing peace to our work, relationships and to the world begins first with knowing inner peace; our weekend together will take us deeper into that peaceful place. Ideally, it would be best if participants could commit to attending both days as the weekend will have a retreat-like quality to it, helped in part by the opportunity to get to know one another, but the weekend will be structured to allow those who can only attend for one day to participate as well.
Stephen works as a spiritual director for the Sacred Space Foundation (see www.sacredspace.org.uk) helping those in spiritual crisis (including burnout) and guiding spiritual seekers. Before this he had a long and distinguished history in academia and in the British National Health Service, gathering lots of glittering prizes along the way. He has co-authored two books exploring the nature of healing relationships – “Therapeutic Touch” and “Sacred Space – right relationship and spirituality in health care” (both co-written with Jean Sayre-Adams). “Reflections on spirituality and health” published in 2005, by Wiley, received outstanding reviews. “Coming Home” was published in 2009, a personal and scholarly account of spiritual awakening rooted in the experience of his work as a spiritual director, for which he received significant training in the presence of several renowned teachers and at the Interfaith Seminary (www.theinterfaithfoundation.com). He is an active Trustee of several charities and an Associate Member of the Iona Community. He works with others to develop the practice of healing, spiritual care, conflict resolution and staff support. He is an ordained interfaith minister and spiritual director and brings a rich experience of spiritual practice from many faiths to his work. Recent published works (“Beloved,” “Contemplation,” “Song and Dance for the Way Home”) include songs, chants, dances, poetry and prose influenced by his primary spiritual practice of the Contemplative Way.
At the end of a film presentation of life today in Palestine, the invited audience at the Citizens’ Theatre sat in silence. Almost in tears, organiser, Sahira Dar spoke for everyone when she said: ‘It is very emotional. This short film tells us more than an long talk. We can see for ourselves how apartheid destroys living and takes lives.’
The event was the launch of a thought provoking exhibition by Friends of Al-Aqsa showing photographs and art works highlighting how apartheid is operated by the state of Israel in its dealings with Palestine and people in Palestine.
Those who use apartheid in this context are witnesses to the inhumane way Israel treats Palestine and Palestinians.
One of the exhibitors was Edinburgh based Phil Chetwynd who has spent several weeks in different small Palestinian towns in recent summers giving photographic and camera workshops: ‘I’ve become aware that Israel is a rogue state. It is doing things which are in flagrant breach of international laws. It is stealing Palestinian land. Effectively this is ethnic cleansing.’
He spoke to the film which was shown. Made by his host Bilal Tamimi in collaboration with an Israeli film-maker is shows how Israeli troops shot tear gas at a small crowd of youths, how the troops manhandled children and women and it showed some of the wounds caused by rubber bullets. The attack on the villagers appeared to go on for most of a day. Said Phil: ‘skunk water is also power-hosed over people and some of the land. This is an obnoxious, poisonous water which rendered one house that was doused, uninhabitable for more than two months.’
The exhibition runs till Friday 24 February and is in the foyer of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. It shows some of the photographs resulting from Phil’s workshop in October last year in Nabi Saleh where he worked with local man Ahmad Al-Bazz to give a group of young people aged from 11 to 17 photography skills.
Their collage in the exhibition shows the portrait of an earlier workshop attendee from 2010. The 17-year-old boy, Youssef Ikhlayl was shot dead in January 2011 by a bullet from an Israeli settler colony while he was working beside his father in the family field. ‘This exhibition is dedicated to him,’ says his picture caption. ‘No one has ever been arrested for his death.’
Artists and photographers from around the UK and beyond were invited to submit work for the exhibition on the theme – ‘This is Apartheid.’ Said Friends of Al-Aqsa spokeswoman, Sahira Dar: ‘This took months to organise. We selected those we felt represented the theme best. Artists include some from Glasgow, one from Cambridge and a drawing by a school boy in Gaza. They cover all ages and include professional photographers and artists as well as amateurs.’ She said the Friends would like to have the exhibition tour different venues.
Added Sahira: ‘I would like people outside of the pro-Palestine groups to come and view these images and be moved by them and go home and talk about what they’ve seen.’
By Alex Mackay
While most people were enjoying their Christmas holidays Shettleston Harrier athletes tested their fitness over a variety of events.
Highlights at the Kelvin Hall Yuletide meeting included a 3m 47cm clearance for Ian Paget in the pole vault and an easy victory for Nicola Mackay in the shot with 8m 77cm. In the endurance events, Euan Penrice recorded 2.26.33 over 800m and his older sister Laura recorded 11.18.21 for 3000m.Veteren athlete Denis Williams, running indoors for the first time, ran 10.07.94 in the 3000m. The sprinters and jumpers were also busy, with John Ruddy running a swift 7.45secs over 60m and Ava McLean recording 9.66. The Glasgow School of Sport jumpers also posted some impressive distances in the long jump through Mahad Ahmed (5.73), Joseph Amonzo ( 5.55) and Ingles Lumfuankenda (5.16).
Daniel Bradford, running the Ribble Valley 10km on Boxing Day, recorded a new personal best of 31.40 to follow up his run of 17th in the North Eastern Counties Championships a few weeks ago.
Matthew Gillespie and Lachlan Oates have been rewarded for their good form with selection for Scotland at the Celtic International Event in Edinburgh next week. An Inter-area event is also included and a number of Shettleston athletes have been selected for the West District or for the Scottish Universities team. Unfortunately a number of senior men had to turn down selection, including Matt Sullivan,Tewolde Mengisteab, Jethro Lennox and Tom Owens, but those who are running include:
Senior Ladies – Lindsay MacNeill and Shona Robertson
Senior Men – Paul Sorrie
Under 17 Ladies – Stella Winters and Laura Penrice
Under 15 Girls – Myrtle Breckenridge
Under 15 Boys – Ryan Flannagan
Universities – Michael Gillespie and Adam Peters
Russian Orthodox church styled singers – Russkaya Cappella – will have a concert in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery on Sunday 18 March next year. Before then, they will perform in Edinburgh on Thursday 23 February under the auspices of the Princess Dashkova Centre.
But their first concert of 2012 will be on Saturday 7 January at 10.25am in the Chapel of St Andrew in Meadow Lane, Edinburgh EH8 9 NR to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas. The following day – Sunday 8 January – they will sing in Glasgow Cathedral at Castle Street. G4 as part of the St Mungo Celebrations. The events around that time will mark the 1400th anniversary of the founding of Glasgow by its patron saint who is also known as St Kentigern.
For more information see Russkaya Cappella’s website: http://russkayacappella.yolasite.com/news-and-concerts.php
Pic by ’FasterStrongerDeader’
The harsh experience of living in tents in sub zero temperatures has been shared by Occupy Glasgow people with others from the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement. The weather conditions forced the group to move off the site at Kelvin Way which they’d occupied for several weeks.
Called ‘Winterisation’ the details of what that entailed were discussed this month at a national conference in Edinburgh of more than ten ‘Occupy’ groups from around the UK.
The Occupy Glasgow camp set up in Glasgow’s George Square in October. Soon they had negotiated with Glasgow City Council to leave the Square to allow the November Remembrance Service and the commercial Christmas entertainments to take place uncluttered. The site at Kelvin Way had been provided with toilets and electricity.
Their aim was to seek a more egalitarian and fair society and to confirm their commitment to campaigning for changes to enable society to cater for the needs of the 99% of people instead of being geared to supporting the top 1%.
In their conference statement the Occupy Movement declared: ‘We seek a twenty first century Enlightenment.’ And they say they haven’t gone away but are ‘ready to forge ahead in 2012, with resources in place to enable new members and occupations no matter where they are in the UK.’
MSP Johann Lamont is the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, She takes over from Iain Gray and has a wider remit.
She was elected from three tiers of Labour Party voters by a substantial majority of 51.77% over MSP Ken Macintosh who polled 40.28% and Westminster MP Tom Harris who polled 7.95%.
Her deputy is Anas Sarwar Westminster MP. He won his post by 51.10% against MP Ian Davidson who polled 33.28% and MSP Lewis Macdonald who polled 15.62%.
The results of the leadership campaigns were announced on Saturday 17 December in Edinburgh.
Both the new leader and her deputy are Glasgow based. Representing Pollok, former teacher Johann was brought up in Anderston of Gaelic speaking parents from Tiree. Former dentist Anas, whose seat is Glasgow Central, is a Southsider whose father was the first Muslim MP at Westminster.
Said Johann: ‘While I am delighted and honoured to be elected leader of Scottish Labour Party, I believe the real work starts now. In May, we fell short of people’s expectations and they turned away from us, unable to find a reason to give us their support. If we are to earn the right to serve the country, our challenge is to listen, to learn lessons and to demonstrate that we can change. I am confident that once again people will recognise that Scottish Labour is the party which understands their lives, can deliver their hopes and will stand up for Scotland.’
Added Anas: ‘It is a tremendous honour and privilege to have been elected as the new deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I want to thank members from across the movement for their fantastic support. Scottish Labour will always put the interests of the people of Scotland first and work to build a more inclusive, equal and prosperous country: an ambitious Scotland, within a successful United Kingdom, not just talking about change, but leading it. I will work resolutely behind our new leader to make sure that the changes that are needed happen. This process of renewal is for one key purpose: to give the people of Scotland a Labour Party that they can trust, a Labour Party they can believe in, and a Labour Party that can win.’
Senior Labour Party figures congratulated the new leader.
Ed Miliband MP, leader of the Labour Party, said: Many congratulations to Johann, the new and the first Scottish Labour leader. It was right to create this powerful new position which carries with it the weight and authority of the whole party in Scotland. Scottish Labour needed to make this radical change to reflect the reality of the devolution that Labour delivered. Johann’s mission is to win back the trust of Scots and challenge the SNP – a party that is cutting capital spending and public sector jobs faster even than George Osborne. As the leader of the whole Scottish party, she will command the support of all the Scottish Labour Parliamentarians, and I look forward to working with her and Anas as colleagues and friends.’
Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, said: ‘I warmly congratulate Johann and Anas, who both ran excellent campaigns. This election has been fought in a comradely and good-natured fashion, not least because all the candidates know we have to change and change radically, but it has also invigorated our local parties and many of our supporters. I and the 41 Scottish Labour MPs who hold the UK government to account day in, day out, look forward to working with our new leader to make sure that Scottish Labour is back on the park doing what the people of our country expect: speaking out and doing what is right for Scotland.’
For more information on the leadership election and process see: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/leadership
A woman from Zimbabwe has been deported by UK BA to Malawi and is now held captive by police in Kenya.
Her friends and sister Zimbabwean citizens, fear for her. ‘It is inhuman what is happening to her,’ said Patience Sazangwe who is herself a political asylum seeker. ‘Is it because she is a woman and an asylum seeker that people think they can do what they want to her?’
Close friend Shelly Davidson said: ‘It is heartbreaking. I’m close to tears each time one of the men who say they are prison officers, phones. They won’t let her speak in her own language and she is crying all the time. She is in hell. The men say she needs around £1000 to be released. She tells me she’s been raped three times so far and made to sleep in a mortuary. I don’t know how the UK BA can send her to Malawi when she is from Zimbabwe.’
Both friends consider it is a way to massage the deportation figures as Britain now considers it safe for UK citizens to travel to Zimbabwe and is therefore sending back asylum seekers from Zimbabwe but doing it indirectly via Malawi. The European Union advises people not to go to Zimbabwe.
Agnes Namakonde, who lived in Edinburgh and reported regularly to the UK BA authorities, was detained on 14 October. She was on a Kenya Airways flight on 18 October to Malawi.
On arrival the Malawi authorities imprisoned Agnes. They took her from Malawi to Zimbabwe where she was refused entry in Nyamapande. The reason was because she had been refused asylum in the UK. She was taken back to Malawi and made to sleep in a mortuary where she was raped. A local woman befriended her and gave her a mobile phone. She was advised to go to Kenya . But police in Kenya caught her without any documentation except the deportation letter from Zimbabwe.
Agnes is now believed by her friends to be in prison at Kakuma Police Station in Kenya or Lumba Prison. The guards call almost daily to her friends in Scotland demanding money. Shelly believes Agnes has been raped three times, at least, while in Kenya.
Said Patience: ‘When any of us goes to sign in as we have to for UKBA, we are afraid. We could be next to disappear in the way Agnes has been made to disappear.’