This year’s Annual General Meeting is held against a backdrop of the death of two important people who contributed immensely to the making of the nation Sierra Leone in their own way. These people are Sister Hilary and Patricia, Sean’s wife. When Eddie wrote about Patricia and Sean in Kenema and Bo Teacher’s College in the 60s, I remembered my own life when I was just starting my secondary school in the late 60s. It really made me come to terms with the sacrifices you people made in education in Sierra Leone. At that time all the teachers in my school were missionaries.
When the missionaries returned home, they did not forget their past work and life in Sierra Leone, so SLIP was formed to bring life from their good work and to celebrate hope. SLIP to all of us is a place of belonging, a place to celebrate life and a place where we all cling to the promise of the future. As we conduct the business of today, we must bear in mind that SLIP is a place of belonging, a place to celebrate lives of those we stand for and a place where we all cling to the promise of the future. The promise of the future is good governance and good education in Sierra Leone.
I want to end my reflection by observing a minute silence in honour of Sister Hilary and Patricia.
On Saturday morning the 31st October 2020 the SLIP Annual General Meeting was held via Zoom. This on line facility accommodated over 25 people in joining the meeting from London and others from Belfast to Cork and many counties in between.
The Chairperson warmly welcomed the attendees, with a very special ‘cead mile fáilte’ to two students from Sierra Leone who have recently arrived in Ireland to pursue studies. The students Amy Conteh pursuing MA in International Studies in UCD and Simche Lebbie studying MSc. in Social Policy in UCC, are funded under Irish Aid Scholarships.
The following Officers were elected:
Chairperson : Elizabeth Smith
Recording secretary : Liam McGlynn
Communications secretary : Geraldine Horgan
Treasurer: Frank Roden
Webmaster: Tony Robinson
Public Relations Officer: Jim Owens
The outgoing officers Martin Rowan and Ibrahim Bah were thanked for their work and contributions to on-going advocacy work of SLIP.
The Annual Report was presented and accepted at the meeting and a link to it can be found below.
The Chairperson, Elizabeth Smith drew attention to the enormous voluntary contribution by members of the organisation without which the many activities of the year could not be accomplished. She sincerely thanked all the members of the SLIP Committee for their work. She also gratefully acknowledged the ever important financial support of the members.
Minister Simon Coveney, T.D.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
80, St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2, D02 VY53.
Re: Towards 0.7% GNI Overseas Development Assistance
10th September 2020
Dear Minister Coveney,
The Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership have advocated for Sierra Leone in Ireland for the past thirty years. We have done so since the devastating civil war during the 1990s, during the terrible Ebola epidemic 2013 to 2015 and during devastating climate catastrophes such as the Mudslide in Freetown in 2017 and we continue to be active in the midst of COVID19 pandemic. SLIP have brought together Sierra Leoneans and Irish people who have worked in Sierra Leone (missionaries and development workers/volunteers) over the past three decades on an annual basis. We have run seminars, awareness raising events and the annual Sierra Leone Independence day event. We continue to advocate for Sierra Leoneans integrating into Ireland including reaching out to those in direct provision (refer to website at www.slip.ie for more information on our work).
We welcome the commitment of the Irish Government in relation to overseas development assistance (ODA) ‘to make annual, sustainable progress, ultimately achieving the UN target of 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2030.’ (Programme for Government, Our Shared Future p.129). We are writing to you at this time to call for a specific commitment to continue and increase Ireland’s aid commitment to Sierra Leone which has an overall ‘focus on the empowerment of women and girls’ (Irish Aid, Ireland in Sierra Leone: Mission Strategy 2019-2023).
We note and welcome that Ireland secured the required number of votes (128 of 193 countries) to secure a seat at the UN Security Council for the two year term 2021-2022. Whilst the vote was secret ballot, it is likely Sierra Leone (part of the Africa caucus) supported Ireland’s bid for the seat, as a partner country for Irish Aid.
We also welcome the recent appointment of Dr. Sinead Walsh as Deputy Director General for Irish Aid and for Africa. Dr. Walsh was the first Ambassador of Ireland to Sierra Leone (2011-2016) and served in Sierra Leone during one of its most difficult periods, the Ebola epidemic. Sinead established excellent relations between the embassy in Freetown and SLIP and these valuable connections continue today. We wish her all the best in her new post.
Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership
CC: Minister Colm Brophy T.D., Minister of State for Overseas Development and the Diaspora.
Compiled by Rita K. Foday