Author Archives: Vanessa O'loughlin

The Way Forward for Irish PEN

The Way Forward: Open Meeting

Irish PEN has been in abeyance for some time and we are currently reviewing our position, and developing a strategy to take PEN forward into the coming years. With the current political climate, PEN’s role – both in Ireland and internationally – has become vital, and we know that many writers want to act but aren’t sure how. Organisation and focus are key to moving forward, and we want your help.

We are currently reviewing our position, and developing a strategy to take Irish PEN forward into the coming years. With the current political climate, Irish PEN’s role – both in Ireland and internationally – has become vital, and we know that many writers want to act but aren’t sure how. Organisation and focus are essential to moving forward, and we want your help.

In order to gauge support and forge a clear direction, we are planning an open meeting in Dublin to get YOUR feedback – to find out what you want from us, and how we can best serve your interests and the interests of free speech, and crucially how you can help achieve that. We are working with WORD – an informal association of professional writers from the Irish Writers Centre – some of whom are also anxious to ensure Irish writers are able to use their voices in the current political climate, with a specific focus on writers in prisons and writers suffering oppression. International PEN has the mechanisms in place to facilitate this and we believe this is the direction Irish PEN should move in, becoming a more politically active organisation rather than purely social.

With that in mind, we are holding an open meeting, open to any interested writer, at the Irish Writers Centre on September 23rd 2017 at 1pm, Huge thanks to the Irish Writers Centre who are generously donating the space. We will be explaining Irish PEN’s current position, our hopes to develop a significantly more active voice in the future and asking how you can help. No matter how small – the sending of one email or one letter – your contribution could be vital to a writer whose voice is being quashed, and vital to keeping Irish PEN active.

The open meeting is a free event, but if you are able to come, please register your attendance here:

https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-way-forward-irish-pen-open-meeting-tickets-37143898400

PEN’s mission is to promote and defend freedom of expression as part of a global writing community, enabling writers to actively engage with social issues in a diverse culture of respect, tolerance and supportive exchange.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne Presented with the Irish PEN Award 2015

eilis_irish_pen 140x210Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was presented with the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature 2015 at the Irish PEN Award Dinner on Friday 20th February 2015. The dinner is held each year at The Royal St George Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin and open to both members and non members of PEN, was a packed house.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne said, ‘It’s a great honour and a great delight to receive this award from Irish PEN and to find myself in such illustrious company as Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Jennifer Johnston & Frank McGuinness’

With the award presented by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Minister of State for Equality, New Communities & Culture, the evening was a true celebration of Éilís’ contribution to Irish Literature.

The 2015 award trophy is sponsored by the national online writing magazine & resources website www.writing.ie founded by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin of The Inkwell Group. Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, current Chair of Irish PEN said, “Writing.ie is delighted to be sponsoring this prestigious trophy again this year. Éilís is an extremely popular recipient and it was lovely to see such huge support for her on the night.”

Irish PEN is the Centre in Ireland for PEN, an international association of writers which promotes literature and defends freedom of expression. Anyone can sign the PEN Charter on www.irishpen.com and associate membership is open to all. Full membership is open to all qualified writers who sign the charter. PEN, which stands for poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists, is a non-political organization with special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations. Founded in 1921, it has from its earliest days in Ireland been associated with Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, and Lord Longford. The President of Irish PEN is the acclaimed playwright Brian Friel.

About the Award

In 1998 Irish PEN set up an award to honour an Irish writer who has made an outstanding contribution to Irish Literature. This Award is for a significant body of work, written and produced over a number of years, and is open to novelists, playwrights, poets, and scriptwriters. Full and associate members of Irish PEN, as well as previous winners, nominate and vote for the candidate. The writer is presented with the Award in the company of other writers at our annual dinner.

About Éilís Ní Dhuibhne 

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of UCD. She studied at UCD – studying Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a Ph D in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.

She published her first story in the New Irish Writing Page in the Irish Press, in 1974. Her first book was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including  novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English.

She has won several awards for her writing over the years including The Bisto Book of the Year Award, the Readers’ Association of Ireland Award, the Stewart Parker Award for Drama, the Butler Award for Prose from the Irish American Cultural Institute and several Oireachtas awards for novels and plays in Irish. The novel The Dancers Dancing was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her stories are widely anthologized and translated. Her latest novel for young people, Dordán, was published in autumn 2010, and the last collection of short stories, The Shelter of Neighbours, was published in 2012. She was elected to Aosdána in 2004.

Previous winners of the Irish PEN Award:

1999 John B.Keane

2000 Brian Friel

2001 Edna O’Brien

2002 William Trevor

2003 John McGahern

2004 Neil Jordan

2005 Seamus Heaney

2006 Jennifer Johnston

2007 Maeve Binchy

2008 Thomas Kilroy

2009 Roddy Doyle

2010 Brendan Kennelly

2011 Colm Tóibín

2012 Joseph O’Connor

2013 John Banville

2014 Frank McGuinness

 

Irish PEN Condemns Flogging of Saudi Blogger

Irish PEN implores the Saudi Arabian authorities and all international bodies with influence in Saudi Arabia to act immediately to prevent the whipping of blogger Raif Badawi, scheduled to take place again on Friday January 16th at Alislahia Jail, Jeddah. The imminent and potentially lethal flogging violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and maltreatment.

In November 2014, Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” and “founding a liberal website.” According to sources close to the case, he will receive 50 lashes each Friday following morning prayers for 20 weeks; this unimaginably cruel and harsh punishment began on January 9th.  The extended punishment is likely to push Badawi’s body to its outermost limits, causing severe long-term damage and possibly death.

 

Irish PEN calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release Raif Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair immediately and unconditionally as they are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression.  In the meantime, we call for both men to be granted all necessary medical treatment, as well as access to their families and lawyers of their choice.

Irish PEN urges the Irish Government to make respect for human rights and international law a requisite for the kind of close relationship it shares with Saudi Arabia and its leader, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz bin Saud. We call on our Representatives to publicly condemn this action, and call for the flogging to be halted immediately and for this profoundly unjust sentence to be rescinded, allowing Badawi to return to his family.

Irish PEN member and best selling author, journalist Martina Devlin highlighted the case in the Irish Independent:

Just days ago, Enda Kenny stood shoulder to shoulder with other leaders in Paris to champion freedom of expression. Among world representatives at the pro-democracy march was the Saudi ambassador to France, Muhammed Ismail Al-Sheikh.

Two days earlier, Saudia Arabia had flogged a blogger. Fifty blows in public. The first salvo in a barbaric sentence which condemns him to 1,000 lashes. His crime? Expressing ideas through free speech. He set up a website – now closed down – encouraging social debate about religious and political issues.

Even as the Saudi government condemned Islamic fundamentalist violence elsewhere, it was silencing a voice of peaceful dissent at home. And in the most inhumane fashion.

Tomorrow, blogger Raif Badawi is due to receive another 50 blows with a cane outside a mosque in Jeddah. The 31-year-old father-of-three will undergo this ritualised exercise in pain and humiliation for 20 consecutive Fridays. Corporal punishment is defined as torture according to international human rights law. Yet his only crime is to stimulate social debate. 

After each flogging he is returned to prison, where he has been held since June 2012. His sentence also includes a 10-year jail term and a fine of €225,000. For good measure, his lawyer was given a lengthy jail term.

Read the full article here: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/martina-devlin/ireland-should-take-a-stand-against-saudi-hypocrisy-over-flogged-writer-30909117.html

Irish PEN

Irish PEN was formed in 1935. It is an association of Irish writers, associate members and friends concerned in the written word, in freedom of expression and in the love of literature.

Irish PEN is affiliated to PEN International, who also condemn this action outright.

Irish PEN logo

CONTACT

Emer Liston, Writers in Prison Committee Secretary, Irish PEN  c/o The United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2

PEN Appalled by Savage Attack on Charlie Hebdo

Irish PEN are fully in support of the statement by PEN International about the horrific attack 7th January on French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo:

PEN International and 42 PEN Centres around the world condemn the unprecedented attack on the office of the French publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris today in which 12 people died and seven were injured.

This is not the first time that journalists, editors, writers, cartoonists  and translators have been targeted for expressing opinions that may offend, outrage or shock sections of society. But there has never been an assault on such a scale in Europe. There can be no justification for using violence to silence or intimidate those who speak out, no matter how offensive their views.

In the face of such violence, it is incumbent on all governments and religious leaders to strengthen their commitment to press freedom and to safeguard freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. This attack must be investigated promptly and impartially in accordance with international standards and the perpetrators brought to justice.

John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International said: “PEN is appalled by today’s savage attack on Charlie Hebdo. Today the entire PEN family stands in solidarity with journalists in France, and all over the world, who are increasingly subjected to violence for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

Condemning the cowardly attack on the office of the magazine, Jean-Luc Despax, President of French PEN said: “Despite this atrocious act, freedom of expression remains intact, whether expressed through art, satire or analysis.”

– See more at: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/pen-appalled-by-savage-attack-on-french-satirical-magazine-charlie-hebdo/#sthash.2S3iTcg1.dpuf

Brian Friel RIP

It is with immense sadness that members of Irish PEN learned of the death of Brian Friel, a winner of the Irish PEN Award in 2000, Brian was President of Irish PEN from 2003 onwards. He was an outstanding playwright and shed lustre on the Irish literary scene for many years. He will be greatly missed by his friends and admirers worldwide and not least by members of Irish PEN.

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (Chair)

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