Minutes of Group Meeting January 11th 2016

Attending: Leo, Paul, Paddy, Carolyn, Rowan, Beatrice, Gee, Carmel, Liz, Grainne, Lucy, Kelly, Emma, Claudia, Mrs Belloni

Apologies: Pearse

Welcome: Carolyn welcomed everyone & introduced the 2 guest speakers – Kelly & Emma from Alliance for Choice & Marie Stopes. Carolyn advised one of the areas the group would like advice on is dealing with anti choice protestors who may picket AI events.

Guest Speakers: Kelly & Emma spoke about the Alliance for Choice volunteers who escort women into & out of the Marie Stopes clinic & the harassment they face. Kelly & Emma advised it isn’t possible to rationale with the protesters  & the best course of action is to ignore them. Kelly & Emma also advised that police support was limited, partly due to cuts but also that there wasn’t a will at the higher levels to be supportive. Complaints by escorters aren’t pursued by the police.

Kelly & Emma advised 70% of people in N Ireland want a change in NI abortion law but this is not reflected in the law. The chances of changes are hampered by the DUP being the biggest party & the Attorney General  so negative towards a change in the law.

Kelly & Emma spoke how because of the conflict in NI social change was left behind. That Dawn Purvis’ victory over the protestors harassing her was overturned on a technicality was a disappointment.

Carolyn thanked Kelly & Emma for an informative & interesting talk & that it would help the group deal with potentially difficult situations eg if protesters did picket an AI event  & would help us deal with potentially difficult questions. Carolyn suggested the group discuss difficult questions, that we get asked at events, at the meetings rather than having a list of questions & answers. The group agreed with this.

Good News: Carolyn advised of current AI good news. A recap from 2015 included some very inspiring victories such as the release of Filep Karma, Moses Akatugba, Shaker Aamer, Burmese activists, Reggie Clemons conviction overturned. Marriage equality in Republic of Ireland, Shell paying compensation to people in the Niger delta.

Write for Rights report: Paul advised he’d submitted a Write for Rights feedback  report to Farshid in the AIUK office advising how the event had gone.

Upcoming Events:

NI Regional Conference 6th February 10am-4pm at QUB. Grainne advised the 3 main campaign issues relevant to May’s election, My Body, My Rights, Dealing With the Past & Marriage Equality, would be discussed. There will also be up to 4 workshops.

UNISON Conference on Human Rights is on 26th January.

AIUK AGM/Conference will be in Nottingham 9th & 10th April. The closing date for booking is 6th March. The group discussed contributing to the expenses of those attending from the group. Paul advised he’d contact AIUK – Farshid – to ask about funding & Beatrice is to email the mailing list to enquire who would like to attend.

Action: The group signed a petition calling on the President of Burundi to stop the extrajudicial executions, torture & ill treatment of protesters & local government officials

Chair for February meeting: Carolyn advised she can’t chair the next meeting. Claudia will chair.

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