Our speaker today is Lalini Veerassamy from the UN. We are celebrating the UN’s 75th anniversary today.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Oct 26th Public Holiday
Nov 2nd John Murphy - The Challenge of leading a team remotely during Covid 19.
Nov 9th Our member, Stan Mason will speak about his 200 + year old family business
Nov 16th Prisoner Liaison Project. Barry Owens of IASIO.
Nov 23rd Free, - any volunteers?
Nov 30th St. Andrew’s Day: President Alan Davidson will speak on one of his favourite subjects.
Dec 7th Special General Meeting, and also review of Dundrum Christmas Tree project.
Dec 14th The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu.
Rotary Rangers Walks
Oct 20th Dunlaoghaire Oiers West & East (2.5 hours)
Oct 27th Hill of Howth (3.5 hours)
Nov 3rd Prince Williams Seat (3.5 hours)
Please note the group is limited to 15 walkers each week, so please advise Brian if you intend to walk the following week. As always, social distancing rules will apply. More details are available from PP Brian.
Hon Sec Tony McCourt gave apologies from PP Ethna Fitzgerald, Derek Byrne, Padraig O’Fainín
There were 22 attendees. Guests included Diana Taylor (Brian’s wife) ; Eamon Allen (Delma’s husband); Bill Cleeve from Rotary Club of Trenton (New Jersey), Gabe Hau from Rotary E Club of Melbourne.
Thought for the Day
President Alan gave the thought for the day. He expressed gratitude for technology. While it doesn’t replace interaction, we are fortunate to have technology to keep us connected in these times.
Alan congratulated IPP Mariandy and her team for the Citation recently received.
Members wishing to speak
• Brian Taylor, accepting his recent nomination for Honorary Membership thanked the Club for this honour and said he looked forward to continuing his long service in this new capacity.
• IPP Mariandy reminded all of the UN 75th anniversary which we will be celebrating on Monday 19th. She also announced she had received a letter with the Citation the Club received for 2019/20 and thanked all the members that made this possible.
• Diana Taylor gave a special thanks for Brian’s Honorary membership and assured us she and Brian will be joining us for lunch as soon as we are back
• Mary O announced the St Louis interact club is up and running and the first meeting has taken place
Last Week’s Speaker
Our speaker last week was Barbara Walshe Chair of Glencree Reconciliation Centre. Barbara was introduced by Delma Sweeney. Barbara spoke passionately about the principles and rationale for Glencree. Their vision is a world where everyone lives in peace. Glencree strives to be a resource for international peace building; bringing people together across Ireland and resolving conflict to build sustainable peace.
President Michael D Higgens has recognised the contributions of Glencree. Barbara gave us moving accounts of a recent visit by Prince Charles. She offered a brief history of Glencree. It has an impressive record of helping refugees. In the 1940s it welcomed those affected by the bombing of Dresden and in the 1950s those affected by the revolution in Hungary. Many descendants of refugees have visited in recent times to see where their grandparents had been looked after. From the 1970s onward it has been concerned with bringing people together affected by the Troubles.
As Brexit affects Ireland, Glencree sees a more international role as being important. Current areas of focus include:
• Brexit, Border Poll, Constitutional Question, ROI
• Legacy of Violence
• Refugee and Intercultural Work (Changing Ireland)
• Young Political Leaders Initiative (All island)
• All island Women’s Peacebuilders Network
• International Work in Haiti
Barbara highlighted the challenges of repairing how different people see each other after a conflict has ended. There is much work that has to be done to restore the human connection between sides that have been fighting each other for so long.
Barbara also spoke about the changing face of conflict. It seems seems to be becoming more tribal as conflicts are intra country and civil wars. She noted the seeds of these conflicts could be found in a politics that is increasingly polarized, the wide spread availability of arms and the climate crisis that is driving people from their homes.
PP Paul Martin thanked Barbara for her informative and inspiring talk. He referred to the Rotary connection, as well as the work done by PP John D Carroll and the Belfast Rotary Club. He noted the importance of understanding goodwill and peace and looked forward to cooperation between Rotary and Glencree in the future.
The Glencree Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHhpO92MVvo
(Pages 13/14) The End Of Civil War Politics (Barbara Walshe)
Visit www.Glencree.ie for podcasts on our work
United Nations day is on 24th October. Rotary and the United Nations have a shared history of working toward peace and addressing humanitarian issues around the world.
The term “United Nations” was first used officially during the first world war in the 1942 “Declaration by United Nations.” The 26 nations that signed it pledged to uphold the ideals on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world. During World War II, Rotary educated and informed members about the formation of the United Nations and the importance of planning for peace. Then in 1943 officials from Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States met in Moscow and called for the creation of an international organization to maintain peace and security. The next year, representatives of those countries plus China held conferences in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to go about this monumental task. Those sessions became known as the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, where delegations from the four countries developed a proposal for the structure of the new organization. After the conference, Rotary published “What Can Rotarians Do Following Dumbarton Oaks?” It included the proposed charter, talking points and suggestions for discussion topics with club members relating to how the United Nations would relate to Rotary’s goal of advancing international understanding. It also emphasized the importance of having a plan ready for when the war ended, rather than waiting until the fighting stopped.
From April to June 1945, delegations from 50 nations attended the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco (known as the San Francisco conference). Their task was to write a charter acceptable to all of them. The delegations were assisted in this historic effort by a large number of staff, advisers, and consultants. Rotary was one of 42 organizations the United States invited to serve as consultants to its delegation at the conference. Each organization had seats for three representatives, so Rotary International’s 11 representatives served in rotation.
Telegram inviting Rotary International to serve as a consultant to the U.S. delegation for the San Francisco Conference.
The people officially representing Rotary included the general secretary, the editor of “The Rotarian”, and several past presidents. Other Rotarians from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America served as members of their own nations’ delegations. Rotarians also served as consultants to their national delegations. Just before the meetings began, Rotary International published and distributed the “Pattern for the San Francisco Conference”. This pamphlet proclaimed: “It is a splendid opportunity for the individual Rotarian to fulfil the objective of international service” …… “by taking part in the debate on this scheme of world government.”
Throughout the rest of 1945, The Rotarian and other publications kept Rotary members informed about issues and developments related to the new organization. Editorials and articles clarified issues, provided additional insights and talking points, and updated readers on what was happening and the people involved:
After the United Nations was established, the 95-page Rotarian booklet “From Here On!” contained the exact text of the UN Charter on one side of every two-page spread, with annotations and questions designed to stimulate discussion on the other. With this layout, Rotarians could use it to learn and lead club discussions. The first page read: “We the people of the united nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which in our lifetimes has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.” (From Here On! 1945).
Rotary today continues to be a powerful force. When the incoming president Holger Knack addressed the International Assembly in California in January this year, he reaffirmed the values held by Rotarians, the United Nations, and contained in the UN Charter when he said: “Of course, we do not know what the new decade will bring, but whatever it is, we must always be aware of our special responsibility. Because in Rotary, we stand for values of equality, tolerance and peace. Tolerance is a relevant concern in so many parts of the world right now. Rotary is not political and it must stay that way. But when things obviously go wrong, we cannot look away. Rotarians must not be speechless. We stand by our values and our four-way test. We are measured not only by our results, but also by our attitude.” Holger Knaack, January 24th, 2020.
The content for this article is adapted by Delma Sweeney from the websites: www.rotary.org › history-rotary-and-united-nations & https://www.rotarygbi.org/media/2020/10/Rotary_OctNov_2020_v4.pdf
Ethna Fitzgerald – A life in Rotary
Ethna joined the Dublin Rotary club in 1993, invited to do so by the late Joe McGough, a colourful character that older members will recall. She quickly became engaged in the club’s various activities and in 2000 was elected our first female president. At that time, the club had about 100 members, but only a few of these were women.
One of her early contributions was arranging a day trip to the first Rotary Club in Paris for lunch. Approximately 20 members travelled. Ethna had brushed up her school French to bring greetings from Dublin Club, but was not given any time to do so until Paul Martin stood up and demanded that the group be given time to speak and present the gift that we had brought. There was a moment’s silence; and then “we all said something”. The whole atmosphere changed and a member of the French Club stood up and made us truly welcome. In the afternoon we were guests of the Irish Ambassador at the Irish Embassy on Avenue Foch. It was a day to remember.
Ethna has long worked in the tourism and hospitality industry and over the years she had built up a remarkable network of connections which enabled her to do things that might have been more challenging for other presidents. For example, in her year, she was able to persuade the government to give us access to the State Apartments for a banquet that raised €17,000. The charity that was to benefit from the event was chosen from a list proposed by club members. Caroline Barnardo proposed Barnardo’s and the money was given to the organisation that bears her family name.
Following a very successful presidential year, Ethna turned her attention to District, initially serving in 2003-2004 on the Membership and Retention Committee. During this year, she was instrumental in setting up a new club in Youghal (her hometown). The Youghal club was chartered in 2003 with an initial membership of 28 and Ethna became its first honorary member. IN 2004, the club did its first trip abroad to Rome. This included attending a mass in the Vatican and afternoon tea in the Irish College. Ethna felt that her own enthusiasm for travel had infected the club. Youghal Rotary club is still going strong though like all clubs, its activities have been sharply curtailed by the pandemic.
In 2004-2005, Ethna was elected Assistant District Governor (ADG) – a position she was to hold for the following three years. ADG’s have responsibility for liaising with and supporting a group of clubs. In her first year, she was responsible for 13 clubs ranging from Dublin Central to Shannon. The president that year was Crawford Wilson of the Antrim club and one of the highlights of the year was the presentation by Marnette Lyons, then president of the Belfast club, of a Paul Harris sapphire to princess Anne. In her second and third years, Ethna looked after ten clubs serving under DGs Martin Moloney (Dublin Central) and Howard Caskie (Limavaddy).
In 2007, alongside members of the Youghal club, she was instrumental in setting up another club – this time in Fermoy. The club was chartered with an initial membership of 26 and its first president was Brid Quirke. Ethna continues to be an honorary member of the Fermoy club.
For 2007-2008 she was elected District Governor Nominee – a position that precedes one’s year as District Governor elect. Sadly, in 2008, she had to stand down from this position for family reasons before she could take up her year as governor – something that would have happened in 2009-2010 - though not before she had established an ad hoc committee from both sides of the border to help her in fostering the all-Ireland nature of the clubs. Had she become District Governor; she would have been the first woman to hold that role in District 1160 (Conny Oversen became our third woman DG this year). Nonetheless, Ethna continued to come up with new ideas and initiatives including organizing an event for all lady club presidents in District 1160 in Áras an Uachtaráin, an event hosted by President Mary McAleese.
Family reasons curtailed her activities over the following few years, but she took up the role of District Trainer which meant less travel and more flexibility. In the year 2010 she started working with Brian Jameson to set up the Ballycastle Club which was chartered in 2011 with Brian as its first president.
For Ethna, her years of involvement with District were happy ones. She particularly enjoyed her role as an ADG, visiting clubs and attending both full meetings and council meetings around the island. When she visited clubs, she made a point of attending their council meetings and it was great to find that they listened to their Service Chairs and to their members. This is, she feels, as it should be. She had so many happy visits, bringing to clubs the best wishes of the District Governor. She was shown club minutes and accounts as well as details of the charity work they were involved in. The Council members in all of the clubs with which she was associated with were receptive to hearing members’ initiatives and ideas for events. These were then discussed at Council and if there were no problems financial or otherwise perceived, Council would then go back to the membership to get their approval and a vote would be taken on whether to proceed or not. From there on a “leader” took on the project in the knowledge that he or she had the full backing of Council. Leaders were usually, though not always, Service Chairs. It was, she says, democracy at its best and made for great unity and inclusiveness in clubs.
One regulation that she was keen to implement was to ensure that clubs abided by the rules on how many years one can serve on Council - in particular as Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary. It is necessary to do this as new members will not stay if their opinions are constantly being rejected or ignored by the old guard. She would also emphasize to clubs the importance of training. She is a great believer in training and feels that the correct training is essential for anyone taking on a higher role in Rotary. She would also emphasise to clubs the importance of having a pipeline of future leaders to ensure their long-term vibrancy and development.
Years of being the tourism business has given Ethna strong communication and networking skills and she had used these to build up a wide range of contacts and friendships, not just in District 1160, but across RIBI and RI. Over the years, she had come to know quite a number of the RIBI Presidents, RI Presidents and RI Board members well. So, in 2016, Ethna, DG Gerry Kierans (Newbridge) and a number of others prepared a proposal that Ireland host the RI Convention in the year 2023 – an event that had the potential to bring about 25,000 people into the country. Members of the RI Board and the RI President at the time (K.V. Ravi Ravindran of Sri Lanka) gave her their support.
Unfortunately, one of the rules for hosting an RI convention is that the Government of the host country must be prepared to support the convention financially, in this case to the tune of €250,000. Despite her persistent efforts she was unable to get a definite commitment from the Government and RI eventually withdrew the request. It was only the following year that she found out at that the Government had invested considerable funding in a bid to host the World Rugby in 2023 - a bid that eventually failed. At the time, she could not resist a wistful smile. She had established that we were high on the list to host the convention in 2023. However, it may have been a lucky escape. If COVID-19 is not gone by 2023 it is hard to envisage the impact of 25,000 people at the one time on Zoom. We will find out if this works in 2021!
Ethna’s immense contribution to Rotary, both at club and district level, is something that many of us have benefitted from in different ways over many years.