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TUI Congress Delegates Organise Solidarity with Educationalists in Iraq
25th April 2003
There was a standing ovation for Nuria Mustafa, an Iraqi citizen, when she addressed the TUI Congress in Ennis on Tuesday 22nd April.
Nuria was invited to speak at a fringe meeting by Dublin City post primary (DCPP) delegates. Congress Standing Orders, at delegates request, changed the order of business in order that Nuria could address the whole Congress.
She spoke about the devastating effects 12 years of sanctions had on the education system, which was once one of the finest in the world. Schools are now without basic facilities – books, pencils and equipment. Nuria called on Irish teachers to send delegations to Iraq and for Irish schools and colleges to twin with schools in Iraq.
Nuria called for the Iraqis to be allowed govern themselves and for an end to US and British occupation of her country. Delegates were informed of the opportunity the Iraqis had to lead their own revolution, when on the encouragement of George Bush Snr., they rose up against Saddam. Then the US refused to assist the uprising by providing arms and flew aeroplanes over Saddam’s helicopter gun ships as he put down the uprising. Nuria explained that the US did not want an administration selected by the Iraqi’s themselves in 1991 as it might not be pro US. Nuria told the Congress that hundred of thousands of people were opposing the occupation. She called on delegates to keep themselves informed on developments, as the media were not reporting events on the ground in Iraq.
Even though press statements were issued on Nuria’s address, and they were present for this event, the press chose to report only straight educational issues and not what was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Congress.
She finished her address by thanking the Congress for the invitation and for the opposition of the Irish people to the war and to the use of Shannon airport by the US Military.
On Wednesday of the Congress, delegates Anne Conway and Marie Humphries, presented petitions to the Minister for Education calling on the Irish Government to end their political support for US foreign policy and the use of facilities at Shannon Airport by the US military. Both were wearing T-shirts with the slogan ‘Irish Neutrality RIP’ when they presented the petitions.
On Thursday numerous delegates signed a Network address list at a stall outside the main Congress centre. It is hoped to co-ordinate solidarity work with teachers, schools and colleges in Ireland and their counterparts in Iraq. Contacts were made with teachers from the Shannon Branch and throughout the country.
We were extremely pleased with the organizational work undertaken by 3 delegates during the course of the Congress and with the moral support of other delegates. This shows what can be done with consistent work. There is a lot of goodwill towards the plight of the Iraqi peoples.
There are other trade Union Conferences coming up and we would urge all who have opposed the war in Iraq and the US & British Occupation of Iraq to begin to organize now for their conference.
Our intervention was done at short notice and could not officially be done in the name of our TUI Branch, as there wasn’t a quorum at the last Branch meeting before Congress. Nonetheless we were pleased with the amount of activity that we succeeded in achieving, particularly Nuria’s address to the Congress, which was definitely the highlight of Congress.
It was a very moving address and was referred to by numerous delegates, some of whom had tears in their eyes as they spoke of it.
We must build on this activity and explore ways of developing solidarity in the coming months.