Group Impact Award for CAG

Clonakilty Amnesty Group was honoured with the 2012 group award presented by Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland.   Featuring a poem by Seamus Heaney (below) the Southern Star reported about the award that:

"At the March meeting of the Clonakilty group of Amnesty Ireland the group was awarded the Amnesty International Ireland annual ‘Group Impact Award 2012’. The award, a framed copy of the Seamus Heaney poem, ‘From the Republic of Conscience’ was presented to Co-ordinator Don Pollard by Pina Attansio from the Amnesty Ireland head office.

Pina and Don
In announcing the award at the Annual Conference, Executive Director Colm O’Gorman stated that
‘the organisation was delighted to pay tribute to one of the longest serving local groups.’
He congratulated them on their campaigning on a wide range of human rights issues, such as supporting human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories, and especially, in dedicated work on mental health issues. He also mentioned the group’s pioneering role in the establishment of the Clonakilty Human Rights Week, which is now an annual event celebratiang the work of human rights campaigners around the world.

Finally, he paid tribute to the late Joan McGrath, who founded the Clonakilty group in Amnesty over 25 years ago, and despite all the other demands on her time, ensured it kept going through good and bad times. As he put it, ‘she is still remembered with pride and affection, both by the group and by everyone in Sean MacBride House (the Amnesty head office) who was lucky enough to work with her’.

The local group is very grateful to the community for their huge support over the years. It meets on the second Wednesday of every month, at 8pm, in O’Donovan’s Hotel, Clonakilty. For further information contact group co-ordinator Don Pollard, 023 40010".

The poem by Seamus Heaney featured on the award.
From the Republic of Conscience

 When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.

At immigration the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

No porter. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried what you had to and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office -

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.

The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.

He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

Seamus Heaney

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