The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

It is a dangerous time to be living in Europe. As of 29 March 2020, of the ten countries with the most covid-19 related deaths in the world, seven are European, and medical experts and epidemiologists believe the continent could be as far as two weeks away from the peak. The EU has produced a €37 billion emergency fund for sectors impacted by the coronavirus. The outbreak of this virus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. Measures like social distancing, or indeed, cocooning, are necessary and have obvious and immediate implications to ‘flatten the curve’. It is understandable that citizen’s rights such as free movement and public assembly have been temporarily curtailed.

 

But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency? In China, citizens have been instructed to install an app which tracks one’s movement and proximity to others using facial recognition, while in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frozen courts, including postponing his own trial concerning three counts of corruption. Across the world, from Somalia to Lesbos to the Mexican border, those living in refugee camps await with bated breath for the potential arrival of the coronavirus. 

 

This month, concerns have been raised regarding the emergency measures introduced by some European democracies. Six European countries – Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova and Romania – have notified the Council of Europe that during this outbreak they will forgo commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) under Article 15 which allows derogation during “public emergency threatening the life of the nation.” Yet it seems unlikely that non-compliance with the ECHR will, in any case, save more lives than continuing compliance. Derogation by these countries could be seen as attempts to limit freedom of the media or freedom of information. 

 

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, of the right-wing populist Fidesz party, is straddling the line between democracy and authoritarianism after the introduction of an Emergency Powers bill was passed into law this week. It allows Orbán, individually, to rule by decree. He can single-handedly override any existing legislation. As well, the new bill states that the spreading of ‘false’ or ‘true but distorted’ information could lead to a five-year prison sentence, and that all public information concerning government actions must come through him. This clause directly targets freedom of thought and expression, namely anyone – journalist, citizen – critical of Orbán’s actions. Parliament is suspended and there will be no elections while this law is in place. Orbán has been Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010, and in that time has curtailed NGO activity and media independence in Hungary. It is likely his party is taking the ‘opportunity’ afforded by the coronavirus pandemic to implement tighter civic control in line with their populist stance. Because the law has no time period attached to it, MEPs are worried that these measures could continue past the outbreak and curb freedoms for years to come.

 

 

In France, Emmanuel Macron’s new doctrine passed on 22 March has specifically targeted workers’ rights, or “acquis sociaux”, including the right to vacation pay, delaying salary bonuses for low-paid workers, and the power for employers to force overtime work on staff. In Britain, Boris Johnson’s lockdown measures allow for the arrest and detaining of those believed to be infectious, including children, by state authorities. Those detained can be placed in custody facilities for up to 14 days. Doctors can sign death certificates without seeing the patient’s body. Measures like these are a large jump from the Prime Minister’s previous “herd immunity” tactic. For those living hand to mouth across the continent, lockdown measures directly cut through a right to livelihood, food and shelter. In recent days, as Italy enters week 3 of lockdown, a notable increase in social unrest has been reported, stemming from those living in the poorer southern regions where hunger is increasingly rampant. 

Alongside emergency powers aiming to prevent the spread of coronavirus, governments must implement social security measures to help the most vulnerable populations. Citizens can only comply with social distancing and lockdown measures should they have food, shelter, and peace of mind that they will have a livelihood to support themselves and their loved ones once this epidemic is over. We are living in an age of anxiety – and, should you follow President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, a time of war. Covid-19 is the invisible enemy. But, governments should not take this pandemic as an opportunity to over-extend power structures, or exploit humanity. 

 

 

Photo from freepik

 

 

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The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The outbreak of the coronavirus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency?

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Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Eileen Flynn has been nominated to the Labour panel for the upcoming Seanad elections, receiving nominations from Thomas Pringle TD as well as the three People Before Profit TDs. If successful, Flynn, who grew up in the Labre Park Traveller housing site in Ballyfermot, would be the first female Traveller in either House of the Oireachtas. She attended Trinity College Dublin through an access programme for disadvantaged youth, and following her undergraduate degree she trained as a community worker at Maynooth University, moving to Donegal in 2018 with her husband. Flynn has been involved in activism for over a decade, with the Irish Traveller Movement, the National Traveller Women’s Forum and Ballyfermot Traveller Action Programme. While there has been progress in recent years in terms of Traveller visibility in the Oireachtas, speaking to The Irish Times Flynn said she felt it was important to “bring a Traveller voice to the table”. 

 

In March 2017, the Irish State formally recognised Irish Travellers as an ethnicity for the first time. This was a major step for Traveller activists, who had been campaigning for recognition of their ethnicity since the Irish Traveller Movement was established in 1990. Since recognition, the ITM continues to lobby the Irish government on issues such as Traveller equality, accommodation and education. While the recognition of Traveller ethnicity in 2017 was a huge step for Traveller equality, many feel there has not been any real difference to the everyday lives of Travellers in the last three years. A Seanad report in January 2020 outlined more than 30 recommendations which aim to reduce the stigma and prejudices which Travellers face in Irish society, including a permanently reserved seat in the Seanad for Irish Travellers. Other recommendations include a paid internship scheme for Travellers in the Civil & Public Services, hate speech legislation with particular protection for Travellers, and a National Traveller Mental Health Strategy. 

 

It is clear that the strategies implemented by the Irish state across the last few decades have failed to meet the needs of Irish Travellers. The old adage comes to mind, surely familiar to anyone involved in activism; “nothing about us without us”. One of the main issues in creating a workable framework for improving conditions within the Traveller community, is that many of these decisions have been made without the consultation of members of the community. Many strategies, particularly in the realms of education and accommodation, have been rejected by those they were trying to help, simply because they did not meet the needs of the community. It is clear that Traveller children have not been able to benefit from the Irish education system in the same way as ‘settled’ children have, with less than 1% of Travellers going on to third-level education. This lack of success in education also contributes to the fact that the current unemployment rate for Travellers is more than 80%. 

 

A key part of the Traveller ethnicity has always been the ability to live together in a way that respects their nomadic culture and way of life. Many recent Traveller Accommodation Programmes have been developed without consultation of Traveller needs, and therefore they are often forced into housing which does not preserve their cultural identity. Poorly designed halting sites, often on the outskirts of towns and cities, leave Travellers isolated from their communities, making it harder to access health services, jobs or education. Living in poor accommodation has immense effects on both physical and mental health, and this lack of properly maintained sites is a big contributor to the fact that very few Travellers live into their 70s, while the life expectancy for the majority of the population is 82. Social isolation, high rates of homelessness (11% of the Traveller population are officially homeless), as well as discrimination faced in schools, jobs and the rental market; all lead to poor mental health throughout the Traveller population. Suicide accounts for over 10% of all Traveller deaths, with the rate of male Traveller suicide more than six times higher than that of the ‘settled’ male population. 

 

Previous Irish governments’ attempts to absorb the Traveller community into wider Irish culture have clearly failed, and have instead lead to widespread discrimination against members of the Traveller community who are often condemned for struggling to easily assimilate into a culture which does not allow them to express their Traveller identity. If properly implemented, the recommendations of the 2020 Seanad report could see greater representation of Travellers in all levels of Irish government, and could lead to greater opportunities for Travellers to engage with Irish society in a way that facilitates their needs as an ethnic minority to practice their cultural traditions. Candidates such as Eileen Flynn could be at the forefront of improving the relationships between Travellers and settled Irish people, and making it easier for Travellers to thrive in many different walks of life. 

 

 

Photo from Houses of the Oireachtas website

 

 

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The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The outbreak of the coronavirus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency?

Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Eileen Flynn has been nominated to the Labour panel for the upcoming Seanad elections, receiving nominations from Thomas Pringle TD as well as the three People Before Profit TDs. If successful, Flynn, who grew up in the Labre Park Traveller housing site in Ballyfermot, would be the first female Traveller in either House of the Oireachtas.

Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

On February 25th and 26th 2020, the first National Security Summit met at Dublin City University in the Helix building. The summit focused on four main branches of security to allow for a variety of keynotes, panels, and debates.

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Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

On February 25th and 26th 2020, the first National Security Summit met at Dublin City University in the Helix building. The summit focused on four main branches of security to allow for a variety of keynotes, panels, and debates. Topics like global security, cybersecurity, defence/intelligence security, and innovation/research are just some of the themes attendees were able to choose from. There were also a variety of speakers like Russell Travers, Brigadier General Rory O’Conner, Dermot Woods, Dr. Maura Conway, Special Agent Kevin Bosch, and Commandant Sharon McManus.

 

Many people may wonder why Ireland should even have a security summit, but it only takes looking at the news to understand. As the United States continues to threaten NATO with their withdrawal, many European countries have begun the process of rearmament. Germany is one such country that has budgeted billions of money to go directly into their military. In a country like Ireland, that has a history of staying formally neutral during countless wars,  these recent actions have left the country feeling conflicted.

 

Many speakers, like Minister Paul Kehoe, stated that Ireland needs to become a more secure environment. He explains, “The threat level [from a terrorist attack] is moderate”, but highlights at the same time that although it is not likely, that does not diminish the fact that it can happen. In the midst of a terrorist attack, Ireland does not have the resources to deal with the threat or the aftermath. Inadequate funding and public indifference holds the military back from achieving what many believe is a safety net for the country.

 

Ireland has allocated funds for the defence budget in 2020 to be €1.04 billion, however, a little over half of that will be going to pay the 10,400 public service employees. In a world where a terrorist attack can happen anywhere, at any time, Ireland will have to choose how involved it really wants to be.

 

Another interesting theme that seemed to carry over the two days was the idea that people matter, meaning that the summit focused on The Republic of Ireland needing to become a nation that can ensure its citizen’s safety more effectively. Ken Pennington stated, “[When] getting back to the basics, human rights matters”. Paul Gill expanded on this during his talk. Gill kept reiterating that profiling is not what it used to be. It is not just men of a certain race or economic status who commit attacks.  It is students trying to behead a soldier, retirees wanting to wreak havoc, and there are also more women now committing crimes.

 

The threat of biochemical warfare was also mentioned in many discussions.  Conor Gallagher declared, “We can hide from bullets and bombs but we can’t hide from gas”. Biochemical warfare can be a real issue and in 2018, when a Novichok agent poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England, many people were left confused and scared. When facing biochemical disasters it is also important to mention the bravery of people in the medical field who treat patients knowing they could die themselves.

 

In my opinion, this summit was amazing because of the amount of information it gave to its attendees. I was given new ways of looking at different situations or events, new interests I want to explore, and I met wonderful people through networking events as well. Having people with a variety of backgrounds, as well as both academic and experienced-based approaches gave the summit discussions more depth. People did not always agree with one another and respectfully expressed different ideas. With that said I hope this conference will be the first of many to come. For more information, you can always visit www.nssi.ie to learn more.

 

 

Photo by Meredith Salois

 

 

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The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The outbreak of the coronavirus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency?

Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Eileen Flynn has been nominated to the Labour panel for the upcoming Seanad elections, receiving nominations from Thomas Pringle TD as well as the three People Before Profit TDs. If successful, Flynn, who grew up in the Labre Park Traveller housing site in Ballyfermot, would be the first female Traveller in either House of the Oireachtas.

Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

On February 25th and 26th 2020, the first National Security Summit met at Dublin City University in the Helix building. The summit focused on four main branches of security to allow for a variety of keynotes, panels, and debates.

Coronavirus: The Lived Experience Throughout Europe

COVID-19 is dominating the news at the moment. It can be quite easy to detach from the current crisis we find ourselves in, even as the panic and restrictions that accompany the spread of COVID-19 slowly seeps into the daily lives of almost every European country. I set out to gain a better understanding of how the virus, and the accompanying measures in place, have altered the daily lives of different people living across Europe.

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors are estimated to have an impact even higher than that of CO2. Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, however, the low-cost carrier was named in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. Now, they have been granted special permission to go straight to the Supreme Court, to demand that the government do better to protect our environment.

Coronavirus: The Lived Experience Throughout Europe

Coronavirus: The Lived Experience Throughout Europe

COVID-19 is dominating the news at the moment. Logging into Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, you are immediately confronted with reminders on how to wash your hands properly, graphs showing the exponential rise in cases per country, news alerts outlining the latest travel restrictions and, of course, memes. While sitting at your computer it can be quite easy to detach from the current crisis we find ourselves in, even as the panic and restrictions that accompany the spread of COVID-19 slowly seeps into the daily lives of almost every European country. 

 

I found it easy to access information on the science behind the virus and how it would impact infrastructure and services, but I still didn’t have a real sense of how it was impacting the general public of different countries. Judging from the media, it seemed as though other countries had descended into chaos, with businesses closing and toilet roll becoming a black-market commodity. Here in Germany, there has been a generally relaxed atmosphere surrounding the virus. Sure, it is harder to find pasta but my daily life was still going on as usual. So I set out to gain a better understanding of how COVID-19, and the accompanying measures in place, have altered the daily lives of different people living in cities across Europe. The following are contributions that people kindly sent in:

 

 

France and Milan: Valentina De Consoli

I am an Italian student, currently studying on Erasmus in France. As early as January I started to feel the danger and impact of this virus: a friend of mine, also studying abroad in France, is originally from Wuhan. She described to me the situation and the conditions her family was living in there and I was shocked. Some weeks after this, my own country of Italy applied almost the same policies as China. I came back home to Milan for the Carnival celebrations and during those days the Government decided to close schools and universities in my region since the virus was spreading crazily fast. I planned to stay 8 days in Milan for the holidays, but after just 2 days, I was considering immediately coming back to France. Upon my return, my university suggested that I self-isolate in my residence for 14 days.

 

In the meantime, the situation in Italy continued to worsen until the total block applied to the national territory. My friends and I began monitoring the number of cases in France and speaking with the administration of our university pushing them to close. Indeed, aware of the deaths and the complexity of containing this virus in Italy, we were hoping that France would move fast so that the policies as harsh as the Italian ones wouldn’t have to be taken. Yesterday morning I awoke to an email from my home university suggesting that I come back to Italy, and do courses online. I waited until the official announcement from President Macron, who confirmed that starting from next Monday all universities will be closed and last Friday I came back to Italy. I decided to come back because if something happens I feel more safe being home with my family in my country and because I didn’t want to face the risk of not having the possibility to come back until the end of the emergency. I am sad that my Erasmus had to finish ahead of time, but I feel like this is what must be done from everybody: trying to contain the virus, following the rules given by the States and be careful for ourselves but for others too.

 

 

Dublin, Ireland: Conor Kelly                                                                               

Dublin has a population of just over 1.3 million people; you can feel the anxiety and how the fear of the virus is affecting your life. This can be seen when people are taking extreme measures, such as going food shopping and buying in bulk, which is causing shelves in shops to be cleared until they are emptied, or willing to spend €10 maybe €11 on a small bottle of alcohol sanitizer which would usually cost €2. We are all feeling the same sense of fear due to the serious nature of Covid-19. The city centre is completely empty, and this is very peculiar which would only make sense if it was the 25th of December while everyone is enjoying Christmas with their families. 

 

Even the Defense forces have been called out to assist the local councils if required for relief work such as helping the emergency services and travel to anywhere in the country isn’t advised. I can’t stress enough that Dublin is not in lockdown, Dublin is not under curfew and the military is not patrolling the streets arresting people. People living in Dublin are just being advised by the Health Service Executive (HSE) against activity that might cause Covid-19 to spread such as attending events or socializing in groups of 100 people or more. Above all, people living in Dublin should stay calm and not do anything that could cause harm to themselves or others. Here is a link to the official HSE website that contains information about the Covid-19 virus: https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

 

 

Denmark: Kush Raithatha

Coming from Kenya in Eastern Africa to Denmark as a student, one of the most developed countries in Europe and arguably with one of the most reliable social security systems, was truly a big step for me and an exciting one. But six months into my stay and this small nation finds itself in a pretty much total lockdown that no one saw coming, with almost 2,000 people testing positive across the Nordic region. This has prompted governments across the region in placing drastic measures in place; like shutting down all educational institutions, closing down places that normally have more than a hundred people like nightclubs, restaurants etc. and also asking a lot of people to work from home. Hospitals have also rescheduled many of their day-to-day operations in order to have the space for any patients who test positive for the Covid-19. This has led to much panic, with people overcrowding shops and pharmacies in order to stock up for the lockdown creating scarcity for basic household items like toilet paper daily food items and important cleaning material.

 

Being in Denmark and seeing all this unfold in front of me was quite a scene a lot of these measures have affected me personally. I am not sure of when I can return to the normalcy of my university life and at the same time, we are all forced to take exams from home. But on a general level, what I would like to shed light on is the fact that this panic has left many people – vulnerable people – in even more vulnerable situations. Many people, especially the sick, old and disabled, cannot prepare themselves overnight for a lockdown and this left them almost entirely helpless especially when they see empty shelves in supermarkets. As much as this period tests our endurance it is also the time where we should find ways to take action. This can be simply done by helping others around you, maybe by bringing an elderly neighbour their groceries or medication. The goal for now should be to strengthen social solidarity as well as reduce panic.

 

 

Rome, Italy: Emma Bertipaglia

Returning to Italy from Ireland, and planning on leaving again in just a month, I would have never expected to be stuck in a nationwide lockdown. On my plane back, a bunch of Italian high schoolers were worried about Coronavirus and making nervous jokes, and I vividly remember thinking that they were blowing the situation out of proportion. Fast forward two weeks, my family and I are stuck in our house. Throughout the day we are all doing our own thing, but we find the time to come together, mainly sitting around the table for warm bowls of pasta, waiting to hear the news, and to play cards and board games. 

 

Life has definitely gotten slower, and some may say even boring, but it could definitely be worse.  The general sense is that, by not leaving the house and by being careful, we are all making a sacrifice that is worthwhile. In times like these, it’s inspiring to see how resilient we are as a country. Don’t get me wrong, there have been days where you could not find anything on supermarket shelves. But people are now adapting; most of the pharmacies deliver prescription medication at your door, there are no longer problems in supermarkets, and most people are respecting the instructions. No one knows what is going to happen in the upcoming days or weeks, but talking to people, this is almost unanimously considered the best course of action. “Andrà tutto bene!”

 

 

London, United Kingdom: Clare McCarthy

 My tube to work is still crowded in the morning, but I’ve heard that some lines are empty. I’ve seen pictures of people on the underground with all types of home-made masks on their faces, from a beekeepers suit to a Tesco bag. Where I work, they have bought 150 laptops to prepare for the case that we need to work from home. I feel it’s only a matter of time before all the schools in the UK are closed and a similar lockdown to Ireland is introduced. I went to ASDA last night and the shelves were cleaned out of pasta, toilet paper, and bread. When this happened during the big snow, it was all a bit of craic. This feels very different.

 

 

Slovakia: Jakub Szepesgyorky

A week ago, everything was normal with people going to work, shops and bars. Last weekend was also normal. However, on Sunday evening, our regional government closed all schools. Then on Monday, the national government placed a ban on all public events for the upcoming 2 weeks. In the following days, new cases of COVID-19 appeared. On Thursday, the government banned all public events until the end of March, all schools are obligatorily closed, travelling in and out of the country is forbidden for tourists. Slovaks who come from abroad are obligated to be quarantined for 14 days. Some people react as they should; staying at home and not going to work, wanting to avoid public places. On the other hand, some do not seem to care at all, going to restaurants for a coffee and meeting with friends in large groups. 

 

 

Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Sadhbh Sheeran

Day to day life in Edinburgh is fairly unaffected at the moment, which seems a stark contrast to the experience of friends and family elsewhere in the world. NHS Lothian, which covers about 1500 km2, has 20 positive cases at the time of writing. Shops have run out of hand sanitiser but otherwise remain stocked and open. Most people continue to go to work and schools remain open. Although yesterday the University of Edinburgh cancelled all field work and non-essential travel, it is continuing to say it plans to remain open. Having watched universities in my home country of Ireland move to online teaching and fully close this week, Edinburgh’s approach seems somewhat lax.

 

Over 50% of my masters course are from China. They are understandably very scared, having watched COVID-19 spread through their country in the last months. They have voiced concerns about the university continuing lectures and not applying more measures to reduce chances of infection. Many have now chosen to wear face masks, and in doing so some have received racist remarks. The degree of preparation here does not seem on par with that of Ireland. In a local pharmacy yesterday, I offered to deliver medication to those in the high-risk category who will not be able to collect prescriptions themselves. I was told to come back in a couple of weeks as they had not yet thought about such a scenario. As cases are only set to increase, I really hope that preventative measures are applied and appropriate preparations made.

 

 

Bonn, Germany: Lyndsay Walsh

For me, there has been a very relaxed approach to the coronavirus in Germany. It was vaguely mentioned in my office in the UN campus last week, and I heard here and there that Germany had a lot of cases but overall it only featured as a conversation filler in the lunchroom. It wasn’t until last weekend that I decided to investigate where exactly the COVID-19 cases were in Germany. Ah, North Rhine-Westphalia – the state that Bonn is in. Oh, it’s considered a hotspot you say? Interesting. Cue panicked phone calls from my mother. Considering the response from the rest of Europe I was expecting Germany to take decisive action and close schools, and for my work to instruct that people work from home imminently.

 

Each day I scanned the news and saw an exponential rise in cases yet no substantial changes came. ‘We will just wait and see what happens…’ many of my co-workers shrugged.  I agreed but internally I was thinking ‘We have seen what happens when governments don’t take this seriously – health services become overwhelmed’. As I write this on Friday the 13th there have been very little alterations to my daily life here in Bonn. My workplace is still busy, public transport is popular as ever and schools in the region are still open. Gatherings over 1000 people are banned but as many have rightly noted – more than 1000 people go to many of the schools and universities in the area. It does seem as though serious changes will be put in place as of next week, with schools expected to close from Monday the 16th of March and more and more companies telling their staff to work from home. In light of this I was faced with two choices; work from my tiny apartment in Bonn or work from my home in Dublin. This wasn’t exactly what I had envisaged my time at the UNFCCC looking like but these are exceptional times, and ones that really highlight the importance of home. Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin. 

 

 

SloveniaMateja Kocevar

I live in the countryside, in the Southeast of Slovenia, roughly 5km away from the town of Metlika, where one of the first cases of COVID19 and the most scandalous one in the country was confirmed. We wrongly thought that the virus could not reach us as we are far from the city centre, but our local doctor brought it back from his holidays in Italy. The whole town was on edge due to misinformation on social media even before there was an epidemic officially declared. People from the municipality of Metlika are being sent home from work as a preventive measure for an undetermined time and schools, kindergartens and public buildings have been shut down. 

 

The infection spread among local people (over 15 cases confirmed in just a few days) and there have been threats made to those infected, showing a lack of empathy and unacceptable behaviour in this time of crisis. Many people in my surroundings do not care about the virus and are continuing their social life as usual, but others are extremely anxious, emptying store shelves and prepping for a complete shutdown. As a mother of a newborn, I am concerned for the health of my baby despite the virus being mild on small children. Now, instead of social interaction, I am rather spending my time going out in nature and I am daily advising my loved ones to do the same. Self-isolation is now crucial to stop the virus from spreading. #stayathome

 

 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The outbreak of the coronavirus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency?

Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Eileen Flynn has been nominated to the Labour panel for the upcoming Seanad elections, receiving nominations from Thomas Pringle TD as well as the three People Before Profit TDs. If successful, Flynn, who grew up in the Labre Park Traveller housing site in Ballyfermot, would be the first female Traveller in either House of the Oireachtas.

Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

On February 25th and 26th 2020, the first National Security Summit met at Dublin City University in the Helix building. The summit focused on four main branches of security to allow for a variety of keynotes, panels, and debates.

Coronavirus: The Lived Experience Throughout Europe

COVID-19 is dominating the news at the moment. It can be quite easy to detach from the current crisis we find ourselves in, even as the panic and restrictions that accompany the spread of COVID-19 slowly seeps into the daily lives of almost every European country. I set out to gain a better understanding of how the virus, and the accompanying measures in place, have altered the daily lives of different people living across Europe.

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors are estimated to have an impact even higher than that of CO2. Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, however, the low-cost carrier was named in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. Now, they have been granted special permission to go straight to the Supreme Court, to demand that the government do better to protect our environment.

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the European Commission, airlines contribute to about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions which doesn’t seem like a lot. However, air transport generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors of air travel, such as nitrogen oxides and water vapour in high atmospheric layers are estimated to have an impact even two to five times higher than that of CO2.

 

In October last year, Extinction Rebellion protested at London City Airport to raise awareness of the problem. One of the protesters, former Paralympic cyclist James Brown, glued himself to the top of a British Airways plane. Another protester managed to ground a flight to Dublin as he got up from his seat and started giving a lecture on climate change just as the Aer Lingus plane was on the runway and about to take off. The pilot had to taxi back to the gate where a throng of police escorted the man off the plane and completed a full security check of the aircraft before it could depart.

 

In order to reduce the large amount of emissions in the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association have a cap on CO2 emissions from this year and aim to have a 50% reduction by 2050. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation requires all airlines to report their CO2 emissions annually.

 

Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, stating that their current CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometre are 23% lower than the average of Europe’s other four major airlines, Lufthansa, IAG, Air France-KLM and EasyJet. When booking flights, customers can also make a donation to Ryanair’s climate charity partners, including First Climate and the Native Woodland Trust. However, the EU’s Transport & Environment group named Ryanair in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters, seeing that the airline’s CO2 emissions increased by nearly half from 2013 to 2018. Earlier in February, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency banned advertisements from Ryanair that depicted it as Europe’s lowest emissions airline and ordered the low-cost carrier to withdraw their misleading claims.

 

In reaction to aviation’s vast impact on climate change, some people have given up flying in order to offset their carbon footprint. In Sweden, the phenomenon is known as “flygskam”, or flight shame. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg refuses to fly, often travelling by rail or boat instead and over the course of last year, she has inspired many others to be more active themselves. As environmental awareness is on the rise, it comes as little surprise that Ryanair is trying to win this new kind of consumers’ favour. And they are not alone: In October last year, IAG, a multinational airline holding company which owns Aer Lingus, shared their plans to have zero net carbon emissions by 2050. In the United States, Delta Air Lines plans to invest $1 billion to lessen its environmental impact and aims to become the first-ever carbon-neutral airline.

 

Although giving up flying altogether is the most effective way to travel environmentally friendly, there are a few things for individuals to consider if air travel is necessary. According to the Guardian, day-time flights have a less negative impact on the climate than night-time flights, which is connected to the contrails caused by planes. Researchers believe that they add to the greenhouse effect by stopping heat escaping from the Earth. During the day-time, those contrails will at least reflect incoming sunlight away from the Earth, whereas in the night, that’s not possible. Another important factor is the amount of luggage brought on a flight. The more it weighs, the more energy will be used. Therefore, individuals can make an impact by simply packing just the most important things.

 

According to an Ipsos MRBI exit poll during the general election, only 6% of people said that climate change was a deciding factor in who they voted for. However, this global crisis  needs to be taken seriously by everyone and must be a priority for the new government, as it will greatly affect our future.

 

 

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

 

 

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The Intersection of Human Rights And Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe

The outbreak of the coronavirus requires increased involvement by individual governments to protect their populations and ensure procedures are in place to help the most vulnerable. But what happens when governments overextend their executive power during a state of emergency?

Seanad Candidate Could Be the First Traveller Woman in the Oireachtas

Eileen Flynn has been nominated to the Labour panel for the upcoming Seanad elections, receiving nominations from Thomas Pringle TD as well as the three People Before Profit TDs. If successful, Flynn, who grew up in the Labre Park Traveller housing site in Ballyfermot, would be the first female Traveller in either House of the Oireachtas.

Ireland’s First Security Summit Addresses the Need for Increased Safety Measures

On February 25th and 26th 2020, the first National Security Summit met at Dublin City University in the Helix building. The summit focused on four main branches of security to allow for a variety of keynotes, panels, and debates.

Coronavirus: The Lived Experience Throughout Europe

COVID-19 is dominating the news at the moment. It can be quite easy to detach from the current crisis we find ourselves in, even as the panic and restrictions that accompany the spread of COVID-19 slowly seeps into the daily lives of almost every European country. I set out to gain a better understanding of how the virus, and the accompanying measures in place, have altered the daily lives of different people living across Europe.

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors are estimated to have an impact even higher than that of CO2. Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, however, the low-cost carrier was named in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. Now, they have been granted special permission to go straight to the Supreme Court, to demand that the government do better to protect our environment.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

As the climate emergency continues to escalate at dizzying speed, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by shocking statistics and doomsday warnings. All over the world, governments are failing to take adequate action to stop the warming of our planet. Climate litigation is the growing global trend of people turning to the courts to force their governments to do better.

 

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. In 2017, they took a landmark case against the state over the proposed construction of a third runway in Dublin airport. Although they lost the case, the judgment recognised the existence of a constitutional right to an environment, and even went so far as to say an environment is “an essential condition for the fulfilment of all human rights”. 

 

Fast forward to today, and FIE are back in court, as the driving force behind Climate Case Ireland. FIE are arguing that the unsatisfactory level of climate action currently being taken by the government is breaching the established constitutional right of Irish citizens to an environment, as well as many other constitutional and fundamental human rights. In an exciting development, they have recently been granted special permission for a “leap-frog” appeal. This means that the case will be permitted to go straight to the Supreme Court, as a matter of exceptional public and legal significance. A definitive Supreme Court judgment in favour of FIE would be hugely significant, and would compel the legislature to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

We are not the only ones waking up to the potential power of climate litigation. A case was recently won by an environmental NGO in the Netherlands, resulting in a court order mandating the Dutch State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the end of 2020. In the USA, a group of 21 young people filed a case in 2015 against the US government for knowingly contributing to climate change and violating their constitutional rights to liberty, life, and property. The country, whose withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation was announced by President Trump in 2017, is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. The 21 climate activists are facing huge opposition from the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry, but are continuing to fight their way through the court system. At a European level, ten families from different countries are bringing the People’s Climate Case before the Court of Justice of the European Union, asserting that the EU are also contributing to climate change and therefore violating fundamental rights to life, health, occupation and property. 

 

According to latest analysis, nearly 30 countries all over the world have engaged with climate litigation. It is one of the newest and most powerful tools available to climate activists in order to demand change from national government. Due to come before the Supreme Court in June, Climate Case Ireland will be the third case of its kind in the world to reach the highest court of national law (other cases being the Dejustica case in Columbia and the Urgenda case in the Netherlands). A judgment in favour of FIE would result in a mandatory plan of action for the government, and would make Ireland a pioneering jurisdiction in vindicating the right to an environment. It is hoped that such a result would send a strong message to government, and inspire other climate litigants globally to bring similar actions. 

 

Find out more about the case, receive updates on progress, and show your support by visiting the official website.

 

 

Photo by Kieran Lynam on Flickr

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

Airlines’ Responsibility on Climate Change

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It generates 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year and other factors are estimated to have an impact even higher than that of CO2. Ryanair claims to be Europe’s “greenest” airline, however, the low-cost carrier was named in a list of Europe’s top 10 CO2 emitters.

The Irish Environment to Have its Day in Court

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), an Irish charity committed to tackling climate change, have become significant players in Irish climate litigation. Now, they have been granted special permission to go straight to the Supreme Court, to demand that the government do better to protect our environment.

Ecosia – the Search Engine that Plants Trees

Ecosia is a search engine founded by Christian Kroll, which gained popularity because of its promise to put 80% or more of its profits towards nonprofit organisations that focus on reforestation. Promising to maintain full financial transparency, it publishes monthly financial reports to build trust with its users.

A Student’s Call to Action on Climate Change

Climate change and environment issues, in general, are the most talked about topics these days, and for good reason. With all this news of despair and disaster regarding climate change it is easy to think that no matter what we do, nothing is enough. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2020: The Way to Sustainable Chocoholism

Have you ever wondered what our life would be like without chocolate? For Ireland, such a scenario would mean an especially great deal. After all, Irish people are the third-largest chocolate consumers in the world. But even though chocolate is generally associated with feeling good, there is a side to it that speaks a different truth.

Environmentally Friendly Menstrual Products – An Exciting Step in Period Destigmatisation

As consumers choose to educate themselves and source products that are easy on the environment (and easier on the pocket in the long-term), reusable, eco-friendly and biodegradable sanitary products are on the rise. There is ample opportunity to reduce your period footprint and decrease the environmental impact of a natural bodily cycle.