Fordham Law to Host Famine Tribunal
UPDATE: The Irish Famine Tribunal has been rescheduled for April 2013 due to overwhelming requests and limited seating capacity at the original venue. It is still to be held at Fordham. Specific dates will follow.
More than 150 years after the fact, a tribunal examining the Irish Famine will be held at Fordham Law School in New York City on October 19 and 20. The stated aim of the tribunal, the first of its kind, is to “assess the impact of the Great Irish Famine (also known as the Great Hunger) on the Irish population, and to examine its political, economic, cultural and physiological legacies, all within a legal framework.”
New York activist Owen Rodgers organized the committee, comprised mostly of experts in law, history, and sociology, and will explore the Famine through a fresh approach to scholarly analysis. According to its statement of intent, the tribunal will “investigate the nature of the catastrophe and the various steps taken to counteract its severity by the responsible institutions of governance. . . The efficacy of the Poor Laws and the workhouse system will be examined with a view to determine whether the optimum level of counter-famine protection was afforded by the Government and local authorities to those most in need of assistance.”
An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, has been the subject of study and scholarly debate for years. This tribunal will place a particular focus on John Mitchel’s claim that the English government encouraged and even aggravated the effects of the Famine for the purpose of thinning the Irish population. It will also utilize the “Nuremberg Defense,” which explores how people can be held culpable for violating laws which did not exist at the time of offense.
The tribunal will formally sit on October 19 and 20. The trial will be held on the first day, and the consequences of the Famine, in light of the findings, will be discussed on the second day. The committee is compiling a bibliography in advance, which will allow those who are interested to become better prepared to study the issues that will be addressed. On October 21, Dr. Garrett O’Connor and Thomas Keneally will present the evidence and findings to a committee of judges.
Notable supporters of the tribunal include Professor Christine Kinealy, Professor Declan Kiberd, Irish artist Robert Ballagh, playwright Brian Friel, actress Fionnula Flanagan, writer Peter Quinn, Irish politician Frank McManus, and writer and producer Martin Lynch, among many others. – C.D.
Visit www.irishfaminetribunal.com for details