Get up – Sign up! Become one in a million!

Will You take the pledge? No, I’m not suggesting you give up your pint, not at all…what I am suggesting is quite different…! You see, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) become International Human Rights Day and on December l0 this year the UDHR will turn 50. Yet, as we are all too aware, in the last five decades innumerable international wars, civil conflicts and a staggering’ range of ‘domestic’ violences perpetrated by governments and civilians alike, show how often human dignity and freedom are completely disregarded.

Some facts: Right now in 1998, 1.3 billion people have to survive on less than 70p a day; hundreds of millions of people in thirty countries – one nation in six – are exposed to armed conflict; half the world’s countries gaol people because of their beliefs, race, ethnic origin, sex or religion; one third of the wor1d’s governments practice torture; 35,000 children die every day of malnutrition and preventable diseases; and genocide, ‘disappearances’, ethnic cleansing, gang rape and the death penalty still have daily currency. All of these are horrific rights abuses but look even closer into our own community.

Here, in Ireland, are just three of the 30 articles in the UDHR which we may think are automatic. But think about it…are they always fulfilled?

Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for…health and well-being.”

Article 26: “Everyone has the right to an education.”

Article 27: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.”

The Declaration’s 50th birthday is therefore rather poignant, the celebration of an ideal and the recognition of failure to achieve it.

Amnesty International is taking this opportunity to mount its most ambitious campaign ever. It hopes to mobilise its 1.2 million members to deliver one simple, strong, message to governments everywhere: honour your commitments to the Declaration. To deliver this message, Amnesty International is assembling the wor1d’s biggest book. The aim is to collect millions of signatures from people pledging their support for the UDHR. These signatures will then be sent to Paris where they will be collated into the Big Book and presented to the United Nations on December 10th 1998, the UDHR’s 50th birthday.

So now you know what it’s all about…I bet your wondering what YOU can do to help, right?! It’s terribly simple really. You could become a member of Amnesty International yourself and join the millions of us around the world in our quest or you could just fill out this form below, cut it out and drop it to me before December, where I will ensure that it makes it into the World’s Biggest Book.

Those who have already signed up around the world include:

Mary MacAleese – President of Ireland

Séamus Heaney – Nobel Poetry Laureate

Mary Robinson – former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Nelson Mandela – President of South Africa

Bill Clinton – President of the USA

The Dalai Lama

Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Capetown

Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen – U2

Add your name to the list:

Send to: Edel Quinn, Old Church St., Athenry or just drop it in to me yourself.

A copy of the UDHR is also available from me.

The Pledge: I will do everything in my power to ensure that the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become a reality throughout the world.

Signed: ………………….

The No Name Club is a voluntary youth organisation which was founded in 1978 by Eamon Doyle, Eddie Kaher and Fr. Willie Murphy and has many clubs throughout the country.

The organisation was founded to provide an alternative to the pub culture for the young people of Ireland. It seeks to demonstrate a lifestyle in which the use of alcohol is seen to be unnecessary for the enjoyment of a good, happy, cheerful social occasions for young people.

Members of No Name Clubs learn through their experience in the clubs that they can make friends, enjoy social outings and have great fun in a warm friendly and healthy atmosphere without the use of alcohol.

The No Name Club consists of:

a) a group of adults who form the Committee

b) a core group of boys and girls who act as Hosts and Hostesses

c) other young people who avail of the services of the club.

These services are organised and provided for them by the committee and the Hosts and Hostesses working together. These services consist of running discos, table quizzes, soccer tournaments etc.

Hosts and Hostesses are recruited locally. They have a major role to play in the services which the club provides for the young people in the local community.

They are helped to develop excellent leadership skills and qualities. They develop these skills and qualities during their term as Hosts and Hostesses through their participation in the training courses and through their participation in the running of the club. This is seen as an important preparation for their future life – as citizens with a valuable contribution to make to society. Hosts and Hostesses undergo training in personal development and training in their roles within the club.

The N0 Name Club is flourishing in Co. Galway with clubs in Portumna, Gort, Mountbellew, Tuam and more recently in Athenry.

The club was opened in Dobbyn & Coffey’s Function Room on 31 October 1997, and caters for young people from Junior Cert. onwards. There are 25 Hosts and Hostesses drawn from both the Presentation College and the Vocational School. It was officially opened by Mr. Michael Browne, National President of the No Name Club. The discos commence at 10.00 p.m. and end at 12.45 p.m. The admission fee is £2.50 for members and £3.50 for non-members.

Membership of £1 is available at the door

It is hoped that with the support and encouragement of parents and teachers, the No Name Club in Athenry will be a big success.

We arrived in Dún Laoghaire, on Saturday July 6th, to the sound of roaring helicopters overhead, as sightseers tried to get an aerial view of the United States Ship, John F. Kennedy CV-67 (to be exact!).

The sailors were prominent and the variety of accents, uniforms and races all contributed to the excitement and carnival atmosphere along the pier of Dun Laoghaire.

After queuing, presenting our tickets, queuing again, and nodding and smiling at passing sailors, we got the ferry to the JFK. As we boarded, we were quickly reminded that we were entering US territory, as a stern-faced marine carrying a loaded M16 assault rifle stood scanning the crowd. We entered hanger bay l, which was festooned with colourful flags and a huge stars and stripes banner.

People floated around, bewildered at the sheer enormity of it all and formed into groups, each headed by a sailor. We wandered over to the nearest group and our guide introduced himself as Lloyd.

To begin our tour, Lloyd took us onto one of the four aircraft elevators, which measure an impressive 4000 square feet each. It swiftly raised the group up to the flight-deck, which is breath-taking to say the very least. It stretches 1025.5 feet and is 252 feet wide. To give you an idea, it would run from Swan Gate to the Jersey Bar approximately. Lining the flight-deck was a striking array of aeroplanes.

The first aircraft we saw was an F14 or a “Tomcat” as it is more commonly referred to as. These are the planes seen in the film “Top Gun”. Tomcats, we were told, are the protectors of the fleet, flying way out ahead of and around the ship. They are big fighters, carry a lot of gasoline and tote the long range Phoenix air-to-air missile.

The “Hawkeye” or E2 is distinguishable because it has a large disc over the cockpit. It provides the eyes and co-ordination of the fleet. These patrol the skies, in touch with all the ships in the Carrier Battle Group and the Air Wing.

Next up was the S3 or “Viking” and Lloyd informed us that this plane was mainly used in ASW (Anti-Submarine-Warfare).

Submarines represent a major threat to the carrier and these planes have a variety of methods available to detect and destroy enemy submarines.

The F18 or “Hornet”, is the latest addition to the JFK’s arsenal. These jets are among the most advanced in the world and are the replacement for the “Tomcat” which is expected to be phased out by the year 2000.

I know it is a cliché but the sailors pride in especially their own planes was very evident as a sailor who works on the “Hornets” subtly belittled the “Tomcats”, during our conversation, while emphasising the “Hornets” prowess as a strike aircraft.

As we walked along, Lloyd and his sidekick, Matt, explained how the planes went from 0 to l50mph in 3 seconds by means of a steam catapult. For take off with this steam catapult, the front wheel of the plane is connected to a “shuttle” which is propelled towards the edge of the deck by steam pressure. There are two blast shields, which are raised up to prevent the planes behind from being damaged by the ferocious power of the jet afterburners. Landing involves bringing the plane down from 160 to O mph on an area smaller than Carnmore Airport car park not to mind runway!!

We were also told about a procedure called “Touch and Go”, which means that the pilots keep the engines on fully while landing, in case that he misses and in which case he goes around and tries again.

Next, we were taken down to the living areas and shown the Sick Bay, the eating areas and berthing areas. Obviously, males are not allowed on female berthing areas and visa versa. After showing the males in our group the male berthing area, he took us ladies to the female area, where he knocked twice on the door, shouted “Male on deck”, waited 5 seconds and opened the door. A nice lady called Jane showed us around. In the room, where 50 women slept, the bunks were three on top of each other, stretching from the floor to the ceiling and in rows of two.

Also on the ship are a complement of marines. Although the marines are on the same carrier, they are completely separate from the rest of the crew. They have their own berthing and eating areas and are the only people on board who are allowed to carry weapons.

They gave a demonstration of these weapons (unloaded of course) in the hanger bay. We re-joined the men and began again down the long narrow corridors, which are identical to those in the movies. The walls are lined with notice board and photographs. A photograph of “Sailor of the quarter” was up and who was it but none other than “our Matt”, who smiled and blushed modestly when I pointed it out.

Lloyd showed us the officers dining area which was an unbelievable contrast to the ordinary crew members’ eating area. It resembled a hotel! 15,666 meals are served on board the ship each day.

Lastly, we met George, who took us back to the flight-deck and up to the flight control tower and bridge also known as the Island. We went into a room on the bottom level where a man was explaining how they organised and kept track of the planes by the use of a scale model of the flight-deck. In typical JFK fashion, the bridge was on not one, but three levels. On the third level, I was surprised to see a large paper map of Dublin Bay. They had thousands of these maps covering every part of the world, we were informed. There were radars and screens with coloured buttons and switches. There were telescopes galore from which I could see eager people in sailing boats swarming around for a glimpse inside. The whole flight-deck was in clear view from the bridge and what a sight it was! We were proud to see the Irish tri-colour flying in the wind on top of the island.

Like all the reports we had read each sailor was courteous and friendly and was delighted to be in Ireland. This was evident as one man said “I love this country. It is magnificent! The only place we see mountains like these (the Dublin Mts.) is on TV”. They were also sad to be leaving as their next destination, Plymouth, did not seem to appeal to them.

There were 176,000 applications for sets of 4 tickets to view the J.F.K. This more than half a million people, combined with the 80,000 people at the air-show in Salthill and the many thousands who visited the static displays at Dublin and Shannon airports, as well as the crowds that massed the piers of Dun Laoghaire to catch a mere glimpse of the carrier shows that a sizeable proportion of the population had an interest in the hardware on display. This puts the protests from political groups before the visit into perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit on board the USS JFK CV-67, and was surprised at the lasting impression it made on me. It also created for me, an interest in both aircraft and carriers, (not to mention sailors!). I will never forget the sight of the JFK as it glistened in the evening sun as we sailed back to Dun Laoghaire harbour and watched it until it disappeared from sight.

I would to thank my brother, Donal, for winning the tickets and for his assistance in writing this article.

Edel Quinn