Author: David Alton

Roscoe Lectures – Forthcoming Lectures June 2014

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The 120th Roscoe Lecture will take place in Liverpool on Monday June 9th. It will be delivered by the Mexican Ambassador.

 

As part of series of encounters with Ambassadors accredited to the Court of St.James we will be staging some “Meet the Ambassadors” Roscoe Lecture lunchtime events.

These are in collaboration with the Liverpool Consular Corps, who sponsor our Liverpool John Moores University Good Citizenship award for international initiatives.
The first of these will be on Monday June 9th when the new Mexican Ambassador Diego Gómez Pickering, who recently presented his credentials to her Majesty the Queen, will speak. Details of the time and venue available from Mrs.Barbara Mace at b.mace@ljmu.ac.uk <a href=” b.mace@ljmu.ac.uk”></a>&nbsp;

 

Mexican Ambassador Diego Gómez Pickering presents his credentials to H.M.The Queen
Mexican Ambassador Diego Gómez Pickering presents his credentials to H.M.The Queen

20114 is the eightieth anniversary of the creation of UK and Mexican diplomatic relations, in 1934, and 2015 has officially been designated as BritMex “The year of Mexico in the United Kingdom” and “The year of the United Kingdom in Mexico”, where the theme of innovation will be at the foreground of planned events. Commercial and business ties have significantly increased in recent years with trade generating revenues of around £4 billion – double the 2008 figure.

 

Liverpool’s own links with Mexico can be traced back over 200 years. In 1795 , a contemporary of William Roscoe, William Bullock , founded a Museum of Natural Curiosities at 24 Lord Street and later travelled to Mexico. Some of the artefacts he collected are listed in “ Companion to the Liverpool Museum, containing a brief description of … natural & foreign curiosities, antiquities & productions of the fine arts, open for public inspection … at the house of William Bullock”
More recently, Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum hosted a disturbing exhibition highlighting one of the most challenging questions facing modern Mexico. The exhibition, “Remember Them’ featured work by a group of international artists drawing attention to the huge amount of mainly female disappearances and murders committed in Ciudad Juárez in Northern Mexico, a city described as one of the most violent in the world.
The exhibition, premiered in Liverpool, featured work by Mexican photographer, Julián Cardona, Irish painter, Brian Maguire, Norwegian artist, Lise Bjørne Linnert and Mexican artist, Teresa Margolles.
Ambassador Diego Gómez Pickering will talk about life in Mexico and be in conversation with David Alton – followed by questions from the audience.

Later in the week, on Thursday June 12th, the Rt.Hon Charles Kennedy MP, Member of Parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and former leader of his Party, will speak on The Case Against Scottish Independence.

rt.Hon Charles Kennedy MP will put the case against a Yes vote in the Scottish Referendum
rt.Hon Charles Kennedy MP will put the case against a Yes vote in the Scottish Referendum

 

This follows the earlier Roscoe Lecture by the Rt.Hon Alex Salmond MSP, who put the case for a Yes vote in September’s independence referendum.
Mr.Kennedy represents the UK’s largest constituency – stretching coast to coast, from Cromarty to Ardnamurchan – and was elected to Parliament as its youngest member in 1983.
As a student he was elected as President of the Glasgow University Union and won the Observer Mace debating competition. In 2008 and 2011 he was elected as Rector of Glasgow University. He is author of The Future of Politics (2000) and has been a prominent member of Scotland’s “Better Together” campaign for a No vote in the 2014 referendum. The Lecture will take place at the Adelphi Hotel. Details and tickets available from Mrs.Barbara <Mace at b.mace@ljmu.ac.uk

 

 

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Among recent Roscoe lectures have been those of Vasily Petrenko (119), Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Baroness (Sheila) Hollins (118).

Vasily Petrenko
Vasily Petrenko
Baroness Sheila
Baroness Sheila

 

To hear them go to:

http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/101110.htm

Wednesday 14 May 2014 – Mr Vasily Petrenko, Chief Conductor, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – in conversation with Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM | download audio | Stream video

Thursday 27 March 2014 – Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins – Talking about Mental Health | download audio | PowerPoint presentation

 

Previously, the Liverpool John Moores Roscoe Foundation for Citizenship staged the a Roscoe Lecture by Vava Tampa, founder of Save The Congo, spoke on the history of conflict and human rights abuses in the DRC and about the role of the early twentieth century human rights campaigned, E.D.Morel and Morel’s Liverpool connections:http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/NewsUpdate/viewarticle/1097/Audio Link to Vava Tampa’s Lecture

http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/101110.htm

Visit Vava Tampa’s Save The Congo web site:

http://www.savethecongo.org.uk/#

E.D.Morel
E.D.Morel
Vava Tampa
Vava Tampa

sAVE THE CONGO

Link to an article on Morel from Nerve Magazine issue 7, Winter 2005:

http://www.catalystmedia.org.uk/issues/nerve7/edmund_morel.htm

Link to E D Morel’s Maiden speech of 1922 (featured in Hansard’s Centenary anthology of historic and memorable speeches) warning of the punitive reparations imposed on Germany:
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1922/nov/24/foreign-affairsAll Parliamentary contributions from E D Morel can be found here:
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/people/mr-edmund-morel/

http://lordalton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/congos-holocaust-120708-by-khalil-bendib.jpg”&gt;congos-holocaust-120708-by-khalil-bendibCongo2jpg

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…and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, Paralympic athlete, spoke on Overcoming Disability and Adversity.

Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE
Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE

<a href

On Thursday November 28th, Ms.Diane Lees, Director General of the Imperial War Museum  spoke on 1914: Why Remembering the Great War Matters. The lecture will be held at the Philharmonic Hall at 6.oopm.

Monday 11 November 2013 – Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE – Overcoming Disability and Adversity | download audio (please note: the beginning of this talk is missing due to a technical issue) http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe

/101110.htm

Tickets are free and available from Mrs.Barbara Mace at b.mace@ljmu.ac.uk

Queens Speech Debate at Westminster – the fate of Meriam Ibrahim the Sudanese pregnant woman sentenced to death and 100 lashes is raised along with the violence which continues in Darfur and South Kordofan

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Meriam Ibrahim
Question 25 Jun 2014 : Column WA164

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will answer the question asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool on 10 June (HL Deb, col 236), and on 11 June (HL Deb, col 418), about whether asylum in the United Kingdom will be offered to Meriam Ibrahim, who has been imprisoned and given a death sentence in Sudan.[HL317]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The UK has a proud record of offering sanctuary to those who need it. Each claim for asylum is carefully considered and where we find individuals are in need of our protection, asylum is given. However, to be eligible for international protection, a person must be located outside of their country of origin.

Meriam Ibrahim
Meriam Ibrahim

South Sudan
Question 25 Jun 2014 : Column WA171

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to commit to ensuring that diplomatic engagement with South Sudan continues beyond the signing of and re-commitment to a ceasefire, in order to support an inclusive national dialogue process.[HL315]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Recommitting to a ceasefire is an important step, but it is only the first step in a long process towards national reconciliation in South Sudan. We welcome the agreement reached between President Salva Kir and Riek Machar to work towards the formation of a transitional government of national unity. This is a further positive step. But both parties must continue to engage constructively in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-mediated peace talks in Addis. The UK, along with our troika (UK, US and Norway) and EU partners, continues to support IGAD efforts to resolve the crisis with both financial assistance and expertise. The UK Special Envoy to the South Sudan peace talks has attended each session of the talks in an advisory capacity since his appointment in January this year, including when the latest agreement on transitional government was reached on 10 June. The Special Envoy has also
met with both parties in South Sudan and has engaged regional leaders whose influence is vital to the peace process. We are exploring with troika partners further ways in which we can support the national dialogue process, both financially and administratively.

Wednesday June 11th Queens Speech Debate
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/lords/todays-lords-debates/#m738

5.15 pm
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB):

My Lords, the Government and the Foreign Secretary deserve to be congratulated for the commitment that they have made to combating violence against women. The House can take real pride in the role that the Minister of State, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, has taken in demonstrating that gender, talent and faith can be great assets while holding high office.

How very different the situation is in Nigeria, where Boko Haram—which means “eradicate western education”—can abduct and kill with impunity. How very different the situation is in Sudan, which incarcerates a woman and sentences her to death on trumped-up charges of adultery and apostasy. How very different the situation is in Pakistan, where a brave and courageous schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, was shot for defying the Taliban’s opposition to education for girls; a country disfigured by honour killings, blasphemy laws and impunity in the face of the assassination of its courageous Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose killers have still not been brought to justice.
The jihadists, from Boko Haram to Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, hold a common, distorted ideology, which festers in poverty, hates difference and exploits grievance. For majorities, such as women, or for followers of minority faiths, life is often a living hell. Last week, the charity Open Doors said that, today, one Christian is martyred every three hours. On 31 May, the Times, in a powerful leading article, said:

“Western politicians until now have been reluctant to speak out … We cannot be spectators at this carnage”.

When they are not being murdered, they are being forced to pay extortionate jizya tax—protection money—to leave or to die, like the two men who were recently crucified by ISIS in Syria. I was given an account only today from Syrian refugees who are in Jordan, unable to pay a ransom. The head of the family was kidnapped and executed.

Last night, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord King, and my noble and gallant friend Lord Stirrup, Mosul fell to ISIS. Not surprisingly, overnight, 120,000 people, many Christians, were reported to have fled from Mosul to the plains of Nineveh. When he comes to reply, I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, will tell us what is being done to protect those people who are fleeing from the depredations of ISIS.

I also hope that the noble and learned Lord will update us on the plight of the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April in north-east Nigeria, along with 20 more women abducted this week.

Meriam ibrahim2

I hope that he will also answer the question left partially unanswered yesterday when I raised the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to 100 lashes and execution, and forced to give birth while shackled in her prison cell. I asked if we would unambiguously offer Meriam Ibrahim and her two little ones asylum and refugee status in this country, demonstrating our values against the values of those who have perpetrated what, for me, is the real crime.

Sudan’s archaic, cruel and medieval laws have also led to Intisar Sharif Abdallah being sentenced to death by stoning and to Lubna Hussein being sentenced to lashing for dressing indecently—that is, for wearing trousers. According to Al-Jazeera, in Sudan in one recent year, 43,000 women were publicly flogged. As we have seen in Darfur, where an additional 600,000 IDPs in the past year have brought the number of displaced people to more than 2.2 million, and in the genocidal campaign in South Kordofan, this is a corrupt Government which uses Sharia to prey on the weak and to kill its own people.

Three months ago, Sudan suspended the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In April, it expelled a senior official of the United Nations. When did we last raise these questions in the Security Council? This, after all, is a country which signed up to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not worth the paper on which it is written as far as Sudan is concerned. We have to be clear about the implications when a radicalised view of Islam comes to prevail and when democracy, modernity and secularism are seen as spectres—the implications are there of course for the United Kingdom too.

The noble Baroness represents an alternative approach, based on plurality, tolerance, decency and common humanity.

I have previously argued in your Lordships’ House that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be at the heart of such an approach and, indeed, of our foreign policy, and should inform every aspect of the positions that we strike. The implementation of the declaration should be the goal of our foreign policy and a condition of both aid and support.

I will end with one final example. I have chaired the All-Party Group on North Korea for 10 years. Earlier this year, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Kirby, said of North Korea:

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”.

If that is so, and if we are committed to the upholding of human rights, why have we done nothing so far to ensure that the findings in that Commission of Inquiry Report have been laid before the Security Council?
5.20 pm

Meriam ibrahim3

Pregnant Christian Woman Sentenced to Death in Sudan.

http://www.copts.eu/articles/6596-first-picture-and-video-of-the-baby-born-in-a-sudan-jail-to-mother-sentenced-to-hang-for-marrying-a-christian.html

Also see http://t.co/EXbM8T05Y7 – the view of Muslims who oppose this barbarism in Sudan.

To help Meriam Yahia Ibrahim sign this petition:

President of Sudan , Omar Al-Bashir: Save Mariam Yahya
To: President of Sudan , Omar Al-Bashir:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/President_of_Sudan_Omar_AlBashir_Save_Mariam_Yahya/?keUkhab

Also see this article by Nina Shea

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/17/in-sudan-a-pregnant-woman-may-be-hanged-for-marrying-a-christian.html# 

 

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Christian woman from a Muslim background, was arrested on 17th February 2014 and charged on 4th March with adultery and apostasy. She is married to a Christian of South Sudanese origin. The couple have a young son (who is with Meriam in prison) and are expecting their second child later this month. The Government of Omar al Bshir (indicted by the International Criminal Court for Crimes against Humanity) does not recognise the couple’s marriage, hence the adultery charge.


Heavily pregnant and in a Sudanese prison - sentenced to 100 lashes and execution by hanging.
Heavily pregnant and in a Sudanese prison – sentenced to 100 lashes and execution by hanging.

A further court hearing was held today (15th May). Meriam had been given three days to recant. However, at today’s hearing she calmly confirmed to the judge that she remains a Christian. The judge accordingly confirmed the sentence for apostasy of death by hanging. He also sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery. The death sentence is to be imposed two years after she gives birth to their second child.

The lawyer acting for Meriam is preparing an appeal which must be submitted within 15 days. Meriam’s husband was not permitted to attend the court hearing today, and has been denied access to Meriam and their son in the prison.

Representations may be made to Sudan’s Misiter of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dousa at moj@moj.gov.sd

The telephone number of the Sudan Embassy in London is 0207 839 8080
info@sudan-embassy.co.uk or tweet the UK embassy in Khartoum @SudanUnit

Promise to Pray, Protest, Pressurise, and Provide
Promise to Pray, Protest, Pressurise, and Provide

Meanwhile, in South Kordofan the killing continues as the Government of Sudan bomb the region’s only hospital. It is condemned as a war crime.

The hospital, funded by Irish donors in the Nuba mountains region of South Sudan, is back up and running having suffered aerial attacks over two days at the beginning of May.

The Catholic Mother of Mercy hospital, which is funded by donations via Trócaire, is the only functioning hospital for the area of South Kordofan and caters for some 150,000 people amid the conflict between rival forces first sparked in 2011, ostensibly over the disputed oil-rich Abyei region.

There are currently 1,000 patients at the facility.

Bombing of the hospital is "a war crime" by Khartoum's Government
Bombing of the hospital is “a war crime” by Khartoum’s Government

Despite being located away from military installations and strategic interests, the hospital became the target of an aerial bombardment on May 1, and again the following day. Five of some 11 bombs dropped found their target, and though no fatalities were reported, staff and patients were injured as hospital buildings were blasted.

The European Union delegation to Khartoum said in a statement that it “noted with concern” reports of the bombing, stressing that hospitals are protected civilian facilities under international law.

Failure to distinguish between the military and civilians “represents an indiscriminate attack and is a war crime,” the statement said.

- See more at: http://www.irishcatholic.ie/article/irish-backed-hospital-south-sudan-bombed#sthash.cxBwpQPu.dpuf

Speech on the situation in South Sudan, 6.58 pm 24 Mar 2014 : Column 414

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, the whole House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for tabling this Question for Short Debate. I am sure that we all thank him for the eloquent way in which he set the scene for this debate.

Following the fighting that broke out in Juba last December, we have seen the violence spread like a plague to Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, where fresh clashes only last week have rendered those areas inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. As we have heard, unverified reports suggest more than 10,000 fatalities. The key message of our debate to all sides should surely be that there should be an immediate cessation of hostilities with no delay.

Both President Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, must understand that anything which further exacerbates the existing ethnic tensions, particularly between the Dinka and Nuer, risks the very future of South Sudan and plays into the hands of those who wanted the world’s newest state to fail from the very outset. They should also take careful note of the statement of the special envoys of the European Union, the United States and Norway in which the troika warned them that, if they fail to engage constructively with the IGAD-led talks, “they will face consequences” and that:

“The people of South Sudan expect renewal, they expect their voices to be heard in forging a more sustainable peace. Business as usual is not a viable way forward”.

The suffering of the people of South Sudan is being further compounded by the collateral effects on humanitarian relief and those who work so selflessly to provide it. Since January there have been three fatalities among aid workers, more than 100 were prevented from relocating from Yirol in Lakes state to Juba for safety, and more than 75 humanitarian vehicles have been commandeered or stolen. It is impossible to feel anything but deep admiration for those aid workers still in the field, risking their lives to bring relief and help to the destitute. Surely there is more that we could do to give them practical help and support.

With 3.7 million people now experiencing acute food insecurity and 7 million facing some degree of food insecurity, according to figures provided by the food security and livelihoods cluster, does the Minister

24 Mar 2014 : Column 414

agree that if, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has just mentioned, pastoralists and farmers prove unable to move with their livestock or to plant their seeds at the outset of this rainy season, it is becoming increasingly possible that this crisis of food insecurity will freefall into outright famine? I hope that the Minister will update us on the Government’s own assessment. Perhaps she can also tell us whether, with the reallocation of funds from development projects in other parts of the country to emergency food relief, she would concur that this poses a threat to the country’s long-term recovery. Is it the case that the crisis response plan for humanitarian activities until June 2014 is around only 23% funded, with a shortfall of £592 million? How can that gap be filled?

Over these weeks we have seen former allies become enemies, old grievances re-ignited, and tribalism and factions threatening the cohesion of South Sudan. The failure to address many of these underlying issues and challenges—many of which were well known but ignored in the framing of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement—has played its part in the genesis of this new eruption of violence. Any political agreement crafted between power brokers and warlords that does not address grievances and fails to reach out to affected communities will be a poor basis on which to build a peace. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that politics is practised in South Sudan. It cannot be based on deals between a couple of competing leaders. Sudan’s churches have always had a historic and important role as peacemakers, and groups such as Citizens for Peace and Justice—a coalition of 30 civil society organisations—should be given direct and independent participation at the IGAD negotiating table. They at least, in contrast to some of the political leaders, have had an enduring interest in the humanitarian needs of the people.

As is always the case when violence replaces negotiated political solutions, powerless, vulnerable people, especially women and children, are caught in the cross-fire and are the ones who suffer the most. From December to mid-January, almost 500,000 people were displaced. It is predicted that total displacement may reach more than 900,000 and that 40% of those will be children. The impact is also spreading to neighbouring countries. As we have heard, there are now around 222,000 refugees. As of 12 March, 70,000 South Sudanese had crossed into Ethiopia seeking asylum, with the number expected to reach more than 150,000 by the end of this year. Perhaps the Minister can update us on the Government’s own assessment of the numbers and of those who have been responsible for these events. Is there not an argument for the United Kingdom to have in place a full-time special envoy to Sudan?

We have seen attacks on civilians by government forces, attacks on civilians by opposition forces, ethnic targeting by government forces, and widespread destruction and looting. Perhaps the noble Baroness can tell us what is being done to hold those responsible to account and particularly to tackle the recruitment and arming of children and young people into their militias. Can she also tell us whether she thinks that the commission of inquiry, which has been referred to, is sufficiently well resourced? Will it have unimpeded access to the affected areas? As well as bringing

24 Mar 2014 : Column 415

perpetrators to justice, does it have within its terms of reference the creation of mechanisms for settling grievances which might pre-empt future eruptions of violence, while fostering a climate in which reconciliation might occur? Reconciliation is not a soft issue—an add-on which might be nice to have—but a hard-edged security requirement.

Will the Minister say what child protection specialists are in the field and whether we have formally requested the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to travel to South Sudan and report to the Security Council, so that due weight can be attached to addressing the appalling plight of the children whose lives have been shattered by these events? Perhaps I may also ask whether the British Government will be bankrolling the elections next year. How can we possibly imagine that an accurate census can be taken when 1 million people are displaced? What genuine choices will be able to be made?

As I conclude, I should be grateful if the Government would tell us what intelligence they have on the role and influence of South Sudan’s neighbours in the conflict. The harsh reality is that events in South Sudan have enabled Khartoum to continue its systematic war of attrition against the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The reality is that events in South Sudan have taken the spotlight off the 18 states affected by armed conflict in the north—not least in Darfur, where violence continues unabated and largely unreported.

7.06 pm
David Alton ( Lord Alton of Liverpool).

 

South Sudan
Questions
4 Feb 2014 : Column WA47

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recruitment of child soldiers by the White Army in South Sudan; what are the command structures of the Army; who they consider controls it; and what they consider can be done to disarm it.[HL4973]

Baroness Warsi: The so-called White Army is an amalgamation of disparate community-based forces with wide-ranging motivations including ethnic rivalry and political grievances. It does not have a command structure in the conventional military sense and has no clear single commander. Various claims have been made during the recent conflict about the political affiliation and command of groups of Nuer youth, described as the White Army by some commentators and political leaders, but evidence to support these claims is limited.
We do not currently have direct evidence of active recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups, but we judge that it is highly likely to have taken place. It will take some time following the cessation of hostilities to assess the humanitarian impact on South Sudan’s children, and whether any resurgence of child recruitment may have taken place.
The Cessation of Hostilities agreement signed on 23 January should apply to all those groups involved in the recent conflict, including those groups who have been described as the White Army. We expect the demobilisation and disarmament of irregular forces will be important questions for the political negotiations that are expected to resume on 7 February. It is vital that the needs of any children recruited during the conflict are specifically addressed as part of any disarmament and demobilisation process.

Boko Haram – and the abduction of

Posted on Updated on

Boko Haram say they want to destroy all westerrn ideas, including democracy, and replace Ngieria's federal constitution with Sharia law.
Boko Haram say they want to destroy all westerrn ideas, including democracy, and replace Ngieria’s federal constitution with Sharia law.

Boko Haram protest

Boko Haram, the Nigerian radical Islamist group, has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 276 schoolgirls during a raid in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria last month. Boko Haram means “eradicate western education/influence.”The group’s leader Abubakar Shekau has publically boasted: “I abducted your girls” – referring to the hundreds of students kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14.

“By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace,” he said in the video that starts with fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great”.

Boko Haram stormed the all-girl secondary school, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon. They have previously attacked students, children, churches and other targets.

On May 7th 2014 it was further reported that suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants have abducted eight more girls in north-eastern Nigeria.

The latest kidnapping happened on Sunday night in the village of Warabe, in Borno state. The girls taken were aged between 12 and 15
.

Boko Haram's leader has threatened to "sell" more than 230 girls seized from their school,  in Borno, on 14 April 2014.
Boko Haram’s leader has threatened to “sell” more than 230 girls seized from their school, in Borno, on 14 April 2014.

In recent months these have been some of the questions to the British government about the role which Boko Haram has been playing in spreading violence and intimidation, destabilising previously tolerant relationships of co-existence.

Boke Haram have murdered more than 600 Nigerians during the first six months of this year
Boke Haram have murdered more than 600 Nigerians during the first six months of this year

Cameroon: Boko HaramQuestion – May 2014
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of the kidnapping of two Italian priests and a Canadian nun by unidentified gunmen in the Maroua district of Cameroon, and of the identity of the perpetrators; and what information they have of the spread of Boko Haram’s influence and activity in Cameroon.[HL6642]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): We are very concerned about kidnappings in Cameroon, which follow two similar incidents in 2013. We are aware of the growing evidence of Boko Haram having a presence in Cameroon, and discuss this regularly with the Government of Cameroon and other partners in the region. Our Travel Advice reflects the threat from kidnapping in Cameroon and other countries in the region. We have advised against all travel to the Far North Province of Cameroon since March 2013.

March 27th 2014:

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have had discussions with the government of Turkey concerning reports that Turkish Airlines was used to ship weapons to the Nigerian terrorist organisation Boko Haram.
• Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 27 March 2014, c146W)

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
We are aware of allegations by some media outlets and certain members of the Turkish opposition suggesting that Turkish Airlines shipped lethal material to Nigeria. We have not discussed the allegations with the Turkish government, but our officials regularly meet their Turkish counterparts to discuss counter terrorism issues.

January 16th 2014
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
My Lords, can the Minister reflect on the role that outside insurgents are playing in the Central African Republic? Can she tell us what the Security Council is doing to ensure that the western borders of the republic are secured, so that organisations such as Boko Haram are not able to influence events inside the CAR, where jihadists are already present?
• • Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 16 January 2014, c350)

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
The information that I have from my brief—although I stand to be corrected by the noble Lord, who is greatly experienced in the area—is that the situation has at this stage been contained within the borders of the Central African Republic. There are some concerns about external elements and a potential religious element to this developing, and we are of course keeping an eye on that.

Feb 4th 2013
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 21 January (Official Report, col. 970) that Ansaru was proscribed by Her Majesty’s Government as a terrorist organisation in November 2012, how many attacks and fatalities have been attributed to Ansaru; how many attacks and fatalities have been attributed to Boko Haram; and what factors have led to the proscribing of Ansaru but not Boko Haram.
• Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 4 February 2013, c1W)

Baroness Warsi (Conservative)
There are no reliable statistics available on the division of responsibility for attacks in Nigeria.
I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs, my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach, on 22 November (Hansard, col. 2020) for the circumstances which led to the proscription of Ansaru. Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation, based in Nigeria, which publicly emerged in January 2012. It is motivated by an anti-Nigerian Government and anti-western agenda and is broadly aligned with al-Qaeda.
Ansaru is believed to be responsible for the murder of British national Christopher McManus and his Italian co-worker, Franco Lamolinara, in March 2012, the kidnap of a French national in northern Nigeria in December 2012, the attacks on a police station in Abuja in December 2012 and also the recent attack on a Nigerian military convoy in Kogi state.
With respect to Boko Haram, the Government do not comment on whether any group is under consideration for proscription.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench) January 21st 2013.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that two of the fatalities were men from Liverpool? Paul Morgan, the head of security, originated from Aigburth, and was killed while trying to repel the attackers. Garry Barlow, from Allerton, reportedly had Semtex strapped to his chest. Their deaths left their loved ones and the local community utterly devastated. Will the Minister ensure that every practical help is given to these and the other grieving families as they try to come to terms with their loss? As this jihadist contagion threatens other countries, especially Nigeria, will he look again at the proscribing of Boko Haram, which has been responsible for hundreds of deaths, and the need to find political and economic solutions to deter the easy recruitment of the disaffected, as well as the wisdom of supporting militias in places such as Syria, which have links with Al-Qaeda, or share jihadist indifference to the slaughter of innocent people?• • Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 21 January 2013, c969)

Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative)
First, I agree very much with the noble Lord how important it is that these poor families have every support that we can give them. I know that through the police and in other ways through our embassy we have been providing as much of that support as we possibly can.
On his broader point about Nigeria, we strongly condemn the violence that there has been in northern Nigeria. We are working with the Nigerian authorities to try to find lasting solutions to that conflict and, through our High Commission in Abuja, we are supporting counterterrorism work and interfaith projects. In November, the terrorist organisation, Ansaru, was proscribed by Her Majesty’s Government, which I hope sent a clear message that we condemn its terrorist activities.

Nigeria Risks Becomming Another Sudan - where 2 million died after Khartoum declared war on its own people.
Nigeria Risks Becomming Another Sudan – where 2 million died after Khartoum declared war on its own people.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people (1) displaced, and (2) facing a humanitarian crisis, in the northern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa as a result of the insurgency by Boko Haram; and what assessment they have made of the needs of those people for aid.[HL6380]
Baroness Northover (LD): The UK Government supports the assessment of humanitarian needs in Northern Nigeria through OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Although figures are difficult to quantify, OCHA estimate 5.9 million people have been affected by the insurgency in northeast Nigeria and an estimated 350,000 people have been displaced since May 2013, both within Nigeria and across the borders into Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Most displaced people are living in host communities, although around 5,000 are in camps. OCHA has assessed the priority needs of affected people as food, water, health and shelter.

Left for dead Nigerians outside a Catholic Church - murdered by Boko Haram
Left for dead Nigerians outside a Catholic Church – murdered by Boko Haram

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA372
Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria following the recent attacks by Boko Haram at a boarding school in Yobe state, on students at St Joseph’s Seminary, Shuwa and at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Waga Chakawa, Madagali.[HL5705]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): During his visit to Nigeria the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), met President Jonathan on 27 February 2014. Mr Simmonds discussed the security situation in the north east of Nigeria including the series of horrific attacks on civilians in northern Nigeria that have taken place over recent months. During his entire visit Mr Simmonds reaffirmed our commitment to assist Nigeria in its fight against terrorism, while stressing the importance that Nigerian forces respect human rights during their operations.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the attacks on villages in Adamawa and Borno states, Nigeria, on 26 January by members of Boko Haram; and when Ministers last met the Nigerian High Commissioner and representatives of the government of Nigeria to discuss the role of Boko Haram.[HL5168]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are appalled by these attacks which resulted in the deaths of innocent Nigerians. There can be no justification for attacks which target ordinary people going about their daily business. The UK will continue to support the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to counter the terrorist threat and to help bring those responsible to justice.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), met the Nigerian President’s Special Envoy for Security, Professor Viola Onwuliri, on 5 June 2013 accompanied by the Nigerian High Commissioner to London. On 24 September 2013 Mr Simmonds again met the Envoy, who was by then also acting Foreign Minister. On both occasions Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers discussed the security situation and Boko Haram, and made clear that the UK continued to support the Nigerian government’s fight against extremism while stressing the need to ensure respect for human rights.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that 20 Nigerians in Bama and Damasak have been killed by members of Boko Haram; and what discussions they have had with the Government of Nigeria about the role of Boko Haram following the United Kingdom’s decision to proscribe that organisation.[HL2182]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Government condemn these attacks which targeted members of the Civilian Joint Task Force in Nigeria. This is the latest in a series of attacks on the Civilian Joint Task Force which is working with the Nigerian Security Forces to help protect communities from the terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram.
Following the decision to proscribe Boko Haram in the UK, the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) expressing his Government’s gratitude for our decision and confirming their appreciation for our support in tackling the challenges posed by terrorism.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 21 January (Official Report, col. 970) that “through our high commission in Abuja, we are supporting counter- terrorism work and interfaith projects”, what are those interfaith projects; and what are the details of the support which has been given.[HL4835]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Recent examples of UK interfaith work in Nigeria as a contribution to reducing conflict include:
a Department for International Development (DfID) project entitled “Enduring Peace in Jos: Arresting the Cycle of Violent Conflict”;
4 Feb 2013 : Column WA20
the Government are providing £800,000 over three years for work towards creating space for dialogue where the different communities can come together to discuss intercommunal issues in areas of tension;our high commission in Abuja has been involved in a programme to train youth peace ambassadors from both Christian and Muslim communities;our high commission has also funded a TV series to debate interfaith issues; andDfID has established a Nigeria stability and reconciliation programme, which specifically aims to address the grievances that can lead to extremism and terrorism.
The Government are considering the funding of a further interfaith project and will continue to work with the Nigerian Government and civil society to find a lasting solution to violence in Nigeria.

14 Nov 2012 : Column WA297

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in establishing whether or not there are links between Boko Haram and organisations and individuals in the United Kingdom.[HL3040]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): It is long-standing British Government policy not to comment on intelligence matters.

Nigeria
13 Nov 2012 : Column WA283
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the attack on St. Rita’s Church, Kaduna, Nigeria, on 28 October; and what is their assessment of the role played by Boko Haram in that attack.[HL3039]
Baroness Warsi: Our high commission in Abuja understands from reporting in Nigeria that a suicide bomber in a car containing explosives pulled up to the church, was refused entry, reversed and then rammed into blockers, detonating the explosive devices in the car. The Nigerian authorities have confirmed that only one suicide bomber was involved.
Responsibility for a number of attacks against places of worship has been claimed by the Islamist extremist group commonly known as Boko Haram. Although there is widespread belief that Boko Haram is responsible for this incident due to the target and nature of the attack, there has been no claim or denial of responsibility and we cannot confirm whether the group was involved.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last discussed the role of Boko Haram in Nigeria with the Government of Nigeria; and what is their assessment of alleged links and connections between Boko Haram and groups or individuals in the United Kingdom.[HL2741]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We regularly discuss the threat posed by terrorist groups including Boko Haram with the Government of Nigeria at both official and ministerial level. Most recently our acting high commissioner raised the threat posed by Boko Haram and affiliated groups with a senior Nigerian official in early October.
In relation to any presence of the organisation in the UK, it is a long-standing British Government policy not to comment on intelligence matters.

Nigeria
Question
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Human Rights Watch report Spiralling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria, published on 11 October. [HL2620]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Human Rights Watch Report highlights the threat that violence in Northern Nigeria poses to human rights. It calls on the main Islamic group, known as Boko Haram, to stop its campaign of indiscriminate violence and calls on the Government of Nigeria to investigate and hold to account all those accused of human rights abuses, including members of the security forces.
29 Oct 2012 : Column WA105
We have strongly condemned the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. We are deeply concerned about the allegations of human rights abuses being perpetrated by members of the Nigerian security services, including the ones contained in the recently published Human Rights Watch report. These are serious allegations from a respected organisation. We expect the Nigerian authorities to investigate the allegations thoroughly and independently, and to prosecute and punish anyone found guilty.
The Human Rights Watch report recognises the UK’s engagement on these issues. However, it also calls on the UK to be even more proactive. Our high commission in Abuja and visiting officials regularly call for those responsible to be brought to justice, including members of the security forces. UK policy towards Nigeria is clear. Our programmes such as the Department for International Development’s Justice 4 All and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme are designed to increase human rights awareness and ultimately protection. We will continue to explore further opportunities to tackle violence and engage on human rights in Nigeria.

See also

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?q=Boko+Haram&pid=13103

Written Answers — House of Lords: Nigeria (14 November 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in establishing whether or not there are links between Boko Haram and organisations and individuals in the United Kingdom.
Written Answers — House of Lords: Nigeria (13 November 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the attack on St. Rita’s Church, Kaduna, Nigeria, on 28 October; and what is their assessment of the role played by Boko Haram in that attack.
Written Answers — House of Lords: Nigeria (7 November 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last discussed the role of Boko Haram in Nigeria with the Government of Nigeria; and what is their assessment of alleged links and connections between Boko Haram and groups or individuals in the United Kingdom.
Written Answers — House of Lords: Nigeria (29 October 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Human Rights Watch report Spiralling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria, published on 11 October.
Nigeria — Question (24 July 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given that 600 people in Nigeria have already been murdered this year by Boko Haram, which states that it wants to extinguish all reference to western ideals, including democracy, why have we not proscribed it as a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom? Has the Minister had a chance to look at the information which I have sent to his office about the links between funding…
Written Answers — House of Lords: Political Groups: Islamist Organisations (11 June 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have designated Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation.
Niger — Question (25 January 2012)
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, has the Minister seen the reports this week that Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group in Nigeria, has been responsible for a large number of people escaping from the violence there into neighbouring areas in Niger, and that this is both leading to an exodus of refugees, compounding the existing problems in Niger, and preventing food being transported from Nigeria into Niger? Did…

Boko Haram say they want to destroy all westerrn ideas, including democracy, and replace Ngieria's federal constitution with Sharia law.
Boko Haram say they want to destroy all westerrn ideas, including democracy, and replace Nigeria’s federal constitution with Sharia law.

The Killing Of People With Down’s Syndrome: BBC Report

Posted on

Originally posted on :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-25979406

A Baby With Down’s Syndrome

Better Off Dead?

“Not content with killing Down’s Syndrome babies – 90% of whom are now hunted down and aborted before their births – we’re now seeing attempts to eliminate them and to let them die rather than treat them in our NHS Hospitals. Is this the same NHS that we were celebrating in the Olympic Stadium? What a contrast, too, with the inspirational achievements of disabled athletes, during the Paralympics celebrated in the same stadium, and who have taught us so much about courage and the overcoming of seemingly impossible odds.

“As we rush pell-mell into Nietzschean-style eugenics and ethics, we should recall those inspirational moments, remembering that people with  Down’s Syndrome are human beings – not “a drain on public finances”; that disabled people would not be “better off dead” and that by allowing the elimination of the weak it is we…

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Syria’s Suffering Continues Unabated While Minorities are Targeted – Christians forced to special pay taxes to militant Islamist group: “Today in Raqqa and tomorrow in Rome” – 75 year-old-Jesuit murdered in Homs

Posted on

Originally posted on :

Syria’s Suffering Continues Unabated while Minorities are Targeted

ACN News: Friday, 11th April 2014 – UK/INTERNATIONAL

With pictures of Lord Alton of Liverpool at the Aid to the Church in Need Lenten vigil service for the Suffering Church in Syria, at the Immaculate Conception Church, Farm Street, London (© Weenson Oo/picture-u.net)

Lord Alton speaking on the plight of Christians in Syria at Farm Street, London, the days sfter the murder of  Father Frans van der Lugt, shot dead on Monday (7th April) in the Old City of Homs.
Lord Alton speaking on the plight of Christians in Syria at Farm Street, London, the days sfter the murder of Father Frans van der Lugt, shot dead on Monday (7th April) in the Old City of Homs.

Will anyone stand up for persecuted Christians?
Peer accuses West of ‘indifference’

By John Pontifex

CHRISTIANS in the Middle East and elsewhere are suffering “systematic killing and outright persecution”, according to a leading Catholic human rights campaigner, and yet the West’s response is to ignore it “without barely a murmur of protest”.

Highlighting worsening killing and kidnapping of Christians and arson attacks…

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Mind The Gap – Keynote Speech to CSAN Conference on Poverty

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Originally posted on :

Interview on the Increasing Poverty Gap In Britain:

www.premier.org.uk/hearttoheart

See also Archbishop Vincent Nichols:

<a href=”http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=22745“>

CSAN 3

CSAN Conference, London Keynote Speech, 12 June 2013
David Alton:   Britain Should Mind The Gap

Extract: “We may live in the world’s fifth richest country but because we fail to mind the gap most people have little or no experience of the wealth which that implies.  Instead, too many people’s experience of the fifth richest country in the world is of Food Bank Britain, Sharp Elbowed Britain, Rip-Off Britain and Devil Take The Hindmost Britain.  We have seen the emergence of a new class of people who are outside society: workless, broken, lost to ambition and social improvement and with no stake in society. When you ask the question “who owns Britain?” it’s not the people who have fallen through the gap.””

mind_the_gap-logoDavid Alton delivers the 2012 Tyburn Lecture

The Catholic Response to the Poverty Crisis (CSAN…

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Susie Younger and Korea’s Never Ending Flower and links to UN Commission of Inquiry Into Human Rights Abuses in North Korea

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Links to information on UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Abuses in North Korea….

http://davidalton.net/2014/02/21/north-korea-and-the-chilling-findings-of-the-united-nations-commission-of-inquiry-and-details-of-two-forthcoming-meetings-at-westminster-where-you-can-learn-more/

Also see:

http://davidalton.net/2014/07/24/british-parliament-debates-the-united-nations-commission-of-inquiry-report-into-crimes-against-humanity-in-north-korea/
Susie Younger’s book “Never Ending Flower” was published in 1967.

Susie Younger Never Ending Flower 2

She was a young Scot who read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford. While she was a student she became a Christian and, in 1960, went to Korea, learnt the language, and decided to work among the poor for the rest of her life. Her book was published in 1967 by Collins and Harvill. It’s an inspiring account – not unlike the stories of Gladys Aylward and Jackie Pullinger, who also found their way to the Orient.

Susie Younger with some of the girls for whom she provided shelter
Susie Younger with some of the girls for whom she provided shelter

Having arrived in Korea with a young Austrian companion, Maria Heissenberger, they set up a house for young street children, bootblacks whose employers exploited the children and took most of their earnings from them. It was a tiny house and they lived with those they cared for, sleeping on the floors and living of a simple diet of rice, barley and vegetables.

They set up a house for young street children, bootblacks whose employers exploited the children and took most of their earnings from them
They set up a house for young street children, bootblacks whose employers exploited the children and took most of their earnings from them

The project was an early recipient of help from OXFAM and CAFOD and it led to a second house being created in Taegu where Susie set up a home for country girls. They had come to the city looking for work and some had been ensnared into prostitution. Susie Younger records some profoundly moving stories of girls who rediscover themselves and who find security, love, employment and, often, marriage.

In the later part of the book Susie Younger describes the creation of a 200 acre co-operative farm at Muhak.

Susie Younger describes the creation of a 200 acre co-operative farm at Muhak. It was the brain child of a Korean priest, Fr.Lee
Susie Younger describes the creation of a 200 acre co-operative farm at Muhak. It was the brain child of a Korean priest, Fr.Lee

It was the brain child of a Korean priest, Fr.Lee, and part of its purpose was to create produce and resources to support Susie’s work. This was when she also met Fr.Stephen Kim – who would, in due course become the Bishop of Masan and eventually the Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul.

Fr.Stephen Kim - who would become Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul and who would shelter democracy protesters  in his Seoul Cathedral
Fr.Stephen Kim – who would become Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul and who would shelter democracy protesters in his Seoul Cathedral

It was he who stood against the military junta and protected the student protestors who had gathered in his Seoul cathedral. It is fascinating to discover him here, in a book written twenty year earlier, giving so much encouragement to a young Scot from Oxford University.

The book takes its title from the national flower of Korea, the Syrian hibiscus – the Biblical Rose of Sharon. Susie Younger says that because it blossoms from spring until late autumn this tenacious plant is known in Korea as “the never ending flower.”

The Rose of Sharon - the Syrian Hibiscus - the national flower of Korea
The Rose of Sharon – the Syrian Hibiscus – the national flower of Korea

Although, at the height of summer, the sun scorches and destroys its blossoms, the following day it is resplendent with new flowers. In the case of Korea – whether struggling in the 1960s from the after effects of the Korean War and military dictatorship or, in the North, from decades of totalitarianism, or in the aftermath of South Korea’s heart-breaking maritime tragedy – the resilience and the ability, in adversity, to renew and restore damaged beauty seems very apt.

Susie Younger
Susie Younger
Susie Younger with Fr.Lee
Susie Younger with Fr.Lee

The book concludes with an appendix in which Susie Younger sets out her personal testimony and her hope to stay among the people she felt called to serve for the rest of her life. The book was published in 1967 and it would be intriguing to know how the story continued.

Bishop of Liverpool and David Alton Speak On The Hillsborough Disaster, the 2014 Anniversary and the story of Mossley Hill Hillsborough Survivor, Andrew Devine.

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David Alton:

Also see:

http://davidalton.net/2014/09/10/the-hillsborough-independent-panels-investigation-and-correspondence-from-1989-with-the-police-complaints-authority/

2014 – the Hillsborough Anniversary: Church and civic bells will ring 96 times across Merseyside later to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

hillsborough memorial 2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster

See: The story of Mossley Hill Hillsborough Survivor, Andrew Devine::

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/hillsborough-survivor-andrew-devine-who-6988427

Originally posted on :

Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill
Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill
8th Report from the Constitution Committee
Second Reading: December 11th 2012

 

HillsboroughHillsborough4
The full debate is at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121211-0001.htm#12121158000507

4.32 pm
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, the report published on 12 September by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, chaired by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, meticulously examined every aspect of the disaster at the Hillsborough Stadium on 15 April 1989, in which 90 men, women and children lost their lives.
The right reverend Prelate, from whom we will hear shortly, and those who worked with him deserve our gratitude and wholehearted appreciation. Their report exposed a number of significant failures and associated shortcomings in the investigation that followed the disaster. The welcome Bill before us today emerged from their findings. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, for the way in which he introduced…

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The Case For A Greater Liverpool Combined Authority

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The Case For A Greater Liverpool Combined Authority

Liverpool images 1

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Storey, not least because in the 1970 general election, what seems like a million years ago now, we were both students and friends, and I sent him out on his first election

24 Mar 2014 : Column GC132

day experience. Sad to say, he returned later that day minus the wheels of his car. I thought that that might put him off politics for the rest of his life, but it did not do so. On this occasion I am happy to be able to concur with what he has said, and I thank the Minister for the way that she introduced the orders.

Personally, I entirely approve of and agree with the decision to allow local authorities to create combined authorities. I think that they will encourage strategic cohesion and be a catalyst for economic development, notably job creation and transport, as we have just heard. It will allow the regions to speak to central government with a more united and stronger voice. It will create partnership between boroughs, in this case referring specifically to those on Merseyside, it will create cohesion and partnership between six boroughs, and it will not give disproportionate power to any of them. It is worth saying in this context that some 84% of those living within the city region work there.

I was struck by a report for Liverpool City Council produced in August 2013 by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson OBE, which he has been good enough to share with me. He states:

“A Combined Authority is not a merger or a takeover of existing local authority functions nor would be a ‘Super-Council’. Instead it would seek to complement local authority functions in economic development regeneration and transport and enhance the effectiveness of the way they are discharged”.

I was struck when reading that report and an earlier one produced in July 2013 by the reasons given by the mayor about why a combined authority would be so worth while. In the earlier report he states that,

“current governance is not helping rebalance the”—

Liverpool city region—

“economy quickly enough; the structural issues highlighted remain issues; a more collaborative approach is required for change; and there is a lack of coordinated delivery structures at present”.

In the August report I see that he points out some of the other challenges facing the Liverpool city region and talks about the opportunities that would be created if such a body was to be set up.

As a one-time member of Merseyside County Council and Liverpool City Council and as a Liverpool Member of the House of Commons for 18 years, I was saddened to see the title of the Liverpool combined authority as it appears on the order which has been laid before the Grand Committee.

The Minister said by way of a curtain raiser to her excellent speech that she thought that this was one of the issues that was most likely to be raised today. Whatever else might be said in its favour, the title, “Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority”, hardly trips off the tongue. This nine-word title is not just clumsy, it is a missed opportunity. This is not just about nomenclature or that ugly word “branding”, which has been used today.

In the early 1970s when Merseyside County Council was established, it puzzled me then that while Greater Manchester capitalised on a name that immediately told everyone in the world where it was, we were not to be known as “Greater Liverpool”, but as Merseyside.

It was a decision based on petty rivalries and parochialism rather than on what was in the best interests of the common good. That lost opportunity weakened Liverpool and actually played into the hands of some of those

24 Mar 2014 : Column GC133

who were agitating against the city and were exploiting some of the problems in the community during the 1980s, disfigured Liverpool’s reputation.

Liverpool is at the very heart of the conurbation, and if a body’s heart is not well cared for, all the other organs will fail, too. During the past two decades the regeneration of Liverpool has become a sine qua non for the regeneration of surrounding boroughs. That success story is something that everyone in the six boroughs should be proud of and celebrate.

I am always struck that wherever I have travelled, even in remote parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia, Liverpool’s name immediately elicits a response.

Liverpooo images 3

It is synonymous with sport, music and culture. Just think of the extraordinary success in which the noble Lord, Lord Storey, was involved in 2008—the Capital of Culture. I do not think that anywhere that has been designated a Capital of Culture has been able to rival the success of that year. Think of the city’s maritime legacy and its world-class universities. I declare an interest as holding a chair at Liverpool John Moores University. Liverpool’s international reputation is further enhanced by the extraordinary work of its school of tropical medicine.

I know from my time as chairman of the Merseyside Special Investment Fund that the city’s economy is in good shape, while its directly elected mayor is proving to be a good ambassador for the city and its interests.

He has also been chair of the better-named Liverpool City Region cabinet for the past three years.

That post of elected mayor was created as a result of the Liverpool Democracy Commission, which I helped to found and on which I served. It has proved to be a great success for the city of Liverpool.

In 1207, King John gave Liverpool its Royal Charter. Since then, there never has been a time in which Liverpool has not been the engine room for the region. It correctly describes itself as “the whole world in one city”. I agree with the Liverpool Echo’s assessment that the city is working,

“at a pace we’ve not seen for, arguably, the last 100 years”,

and that,

“it’s growing, it’s exciting and it’s the envy of most of its rivals”.

It is important to underline how vibrant the surrounding boroughs remain. In my professional life, I worked in two of those boroughs and, through the good citizenship award scheme that I founded at my university, I have been able to spend time in those neighbouring boroughs. The award scheme underlines what wonderful young people are emerging all over the region. It is their future that is at stake here, and it is their talent that the combined authority has to harness.

The new authority needs to be instantaneously recognisable. It needs a name that carries clout. It needs a name that exudes confidence and strength. People might mistakenly ask, “What’s in a name?”. “Everything” is the answer. A tongue-twisting piece of gobbledegook is no substitute for a name that would command immediate recognition, and I therefore hope that what the noble Baroness has said this afternoon—that it would be within the discretion of the authority to choose a name that resonates—will be heard loud and clear by the leaders of those six boroughs.

24 Mar 2014 : Column GC13
David Alton ( Lord Alton of Liverpool).

Liverpool images4