April 24th – Ireland Food Sovereignty Proclamation Day

On April 24th, Ireland marks the actual date its independence movement started in earnest. Irish citizens have come together to make April 24th 2016 –  the real date that marks the Easter Rising –  Ireland’s food sovereignty proclamation day. And they plan to eat and tweet about it. Here’s the why and how.
Photo (c) William Hederman
Food Sovereignty Proclamation being pasted onto the walls of Ag House – where the Irish government’s agri-food department resides. This occurred after a climate change march in 2015. Photo (c) William Hederman
April 24th 2016 is the actual 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising. On that date a century ago, a visionary proclamation (see below) was read out to unsuspecting  passers by. A brief week long battle for the centre of Dublin ensure, hundreds died and the leaders of the uprising – a mixture of nationalists and socialists, were executed by the occupying British forces. This round of executions, as well as the mass arrest of sympathisers and various other acts (citizen slaughter and pacifist executions, the unlikelihood of a partial devolved form of government called Home Rule) sparked a turn away from acquiescence with British Rule in Ireland. Instead, from this point on Ireland generated a separatist and, for a time, somewhat socialist momentum. A 1918 general election saw a huge vote for independence, while a war of Independence, civil war, partial independence and, eventually, full Republic Status followed.
So  within a few short years, all had changed, changed utterly. Ireland marked the Easter co-incidence of the Uprising – it was Easter Sunday 1916  – with a state-sponsored and quite anodyne, sanitised commemoration last month.
The question is: will there be more of a people’s remembering – a celebration of the ideas in that fateful document – on the 24th? And what on earth has this got to do with food sovereignty?
Ireland’s Proclamation of Independence from 1916
From national to food sovereignty
It turns out that for the last couple of years, a dedicated bunch have made their way to Mayo in the north west of Ireland, to meet when the Afri famine commemoration walk happens. Ireland suffered an appalling famine in the 1840s where about 3 million died or left on coffin ships. Mayo was one of the hardest hit places.
Afri, being as they are an organisation for workers returning from development organisations, see synergies between Ireland and famine then, and the underdeveloped world and famine now. Hence the walk of remembrance and recognition.
Just before this walk, for the last two years, these citizens – farmers, growers, eaters, organisers and more – have developed a food sovereignty proclamation for Ireland. This work has been done at the second Food Sovereignty Assembly on May 15 2015. These Assemblies connect Ireland up to a global food sovereignty movement  – including La Via Campesina and the Nyeleni Process initiated in Mali in 2007 – which seeks to  protect and promote rural small scale local food producers.
Image from the Food Sovereignty Ireland event 2015
Image from the Food Sovereignty Ireland event 2015
Food Sovereignty, at its simplest, is about people regaining control over food. It’s about people getting far more involved in the what, where, how and why of food: what is produced; where is it produced; how is it produced and distributed; why is it grown or reared the way it is? It’s about the right to food – making good food available and affordable to all. It’s about helping our local quality food producers  – and workers – make a decent living. It’s about treating the earth  – its climate, its seeds, all its resources – respectfully. It’s also something you can interpret and develop for yourself, based on these core principles.

In short, food sovereignty is about fair, eco friendly local food  – that’s food produced to agroecological principles.

foodsov proc


From the food sovereignty proclamation

We recognise that Food Sovereignty is about more than just local food  – it is about rights – our rights to access land, resources, seeds and knowledge. It is also about the welfare of the planet, about low-input farming systems that feed our people while responding to the challenge of climate change. It is about democracy, about the voices of our people and about how we organize ourselves. It is about the rights of women. It is about our societies living at peace with each other and with our planet. It is about recognising our place in the generational flow that includes our ancestors and our descendants.
The Big Idea –  meet eat and tweet a #FoodSov meal
Here’s an idea. Activists plan to make April 24th 2016 Ireland’s food sovereignty proclamation day. The idea is to make an extra special effort to eat food that really reflects the sentiment of this document of ours. And tell the world about it. So people will gather with friends, family or neighbours and get together a meal that best reflects Ireland’s food sovereignty proclamation – wherever you are. It can be simple or splendid. Even if you happen to eat alone that day – you can make a meal of it! Do up a dish that says yes to local, careful, loving food producers.

Here’s how we tell Ireland and the world about our food sovereignty proclamation:

1: Get your self a #foodsov meal together – you, your mates, a big group – whatever.
2:Take a snap of the dish and/or gathering.
3: Go onto social media – twitter, instagram  or facebook  – attach the picture, and write a short message about the dish.
4:  Hashtag the message with #foodsov and link to the food sovereignty proclamation

Wherever you are eating, whatever you feel is the most apt thing to eat’n’tweet –do it and tell the world! On this day, let’s make our food sovereignty proclamation shine. there is an opportunity to  use this day  – April 24th – to springboard food sovereignty in Ireland. April 24th is but one day – there are many more days and ways to connect with people and producers. So remember eat, snap, write a wee message, #foodsov, link to our food sovereignty proclamation and then, just tweet it!